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Pharmacy’s newest employee: Lucy the robot

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Posted: November 5, 2006 4:12 p.m.
Updated: November 13, 2006 5:00 a.m.
    Technology has become an integral component of any company's infrastructure and upgrading it can be a painfully expensive task.
    Painful or not, one of the quietest, long standing members of our business community has no problem keeping up with technology where his business is concerned. In fact, he has been doing that very thing since he opened his pharmacy in 1960.
    "I have always tried to keep up with technology," said Lem Nevil, founder and partner of the Medical Center Pharmacy on Granade Street in Statesboro's historic district. "In the long run, it has always paid off for us."
    Nevil's latest technology purchase - "Lucy", the automated pharmacy robot.
    For those of us who grew up going to the Medical Center, did you ever think that they would have a robot? Well they do, and she is performing her duties very nicely.
    Jennifer Minis, a certified pharmacy technician,  has the job of overseeing the operation of Lucy. Minis is very happy with the new member of the Medical Center Pharmacy team.
    "We are able to serve many of our clients much faster than before," Minis said. "Lucy is able to dispense 252 different pharmaceuticals. She is very efficient."
    Minis said the new robot can fill the prescription from the beginning to the end.
    "The robot puts the pills in the bottle, caps the bottle, puts on the label, and then puts it in the correct bin," Minis said. "It really is pretty slick."
    Nevil said he thinks the Medical Center is the only pharmacy in Statesboro with a robot such as Lucy.
    "I haven't heard of anyone else installing one of these," Nevil said. "We put our name with McKesson to purchase a similar unit four years ago. It never came available. We were finally able to get one through a manufacturer called Parata."
    Parata is a North Carolina based manufacturing company which produces the Parata Robotic Dispensing System which the company claims to be the "fastest robotic dispensing system on earth." Imagine that, right here in Statesboro.
    I asked Nevil how much Lucy cost.  In true Lem Nevil fashion, the answer was soft and to the point. "An awful lot," he said with a knowing smile.
    This is one piece of infrastructure that was not cheap. Having been in business for over 46 years, you have to think that Nevil, and his partners, son, Jaime Nevil, and Walter Pease, think that it was an investment well worth making.
    As Lem Nevil said, "We need to be prepared for the next 46 years."  
    Until next week, I bid adieu.
    Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or e-mail her at jmoore@statesboroherald.net
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