Tuesday, January 7, 2014

50th Anniversary of The Apothecary Pharmacy in Oakland, California

Yesterday, January 6, 2014, marked the 50th Anniversary of The Apothecary Pharmacy – which inspired Ramsell’s mission of serving the underserved.

Syl Flowers
On January 6, 1964, our founder, Sylester Flowers, started the first African-American owned community pharmacy in East Oakland, Calif. during a period when other pharmacies – independent or chain were fearful of venturing into the underserved communities. Syl eventually owned six community-based pharmacies across the Bay Area. 
The Apothecary is the last remaining pharmacy, which continues to operate in Oakland, Calif. To this day, Syl takes pride that The Apothecary remains the oldest, continuous, African-American owned pharmacy in California and a pharmacy that still resides in the community where it has directly impacted the lives of its residents for more than 50 years. Syl acknowledges the great appreciation and trust that the community has had in him to ensure that their well-being always took precedence over monetary gains. 

From his humble beginnings in High Point, N.C., Syl never forgot the values instilled in him by his mother who advised him by saying, “Son, I know you will be successful in anything you do, but promise me you will always give something back to the people that gave you your livelihood. Always give something back to the community.” Syl has never forgotten that statement made by his mother and has committed his life to honoring her guidance. 

The 1980’s marked the age of technology for Syl and Ramsell. Through his technological innovation, Syl assisted with improving access to HIV/AIDs medications by decentralizing services at San Francisco General Hospital through the development of a chain of pharmacies in the San Francisco area. This achievement was the start of many state programs turning to Ramsell to assist them with efficiency and cost-savings in the delivery of vital HIV/AIDs medications to patients enrolled in AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP). 

Syl is the recipient of many awards and honors, recognizing him for his work as a community pharmacist and the countless lives that his work has impacted. In September 2007, the California State Senate recognized Syl as a Business and Community Leader for his long time commitment to public health. Syl was honored in a Resolution Presentation Session on the California State Senate Floor. He also met with former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and discussed the possibility of building a liaison with health care practitioners to deliver health care to the medically indigent in California. 

 In the same year, Syl was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the California Pharmacists Association. The Hall of Fame is comprised of less than 15 inductees each year. Additionally, Syl was recognized by Howard University for his lifelong achievements, where the University has his name etched on the wall next to other influential African American leaders such as U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall. If you ask Syl who the biggest contributor of his success is, he’ll tell you that it’s the friends and his staff at Ramsell for whom without them, none of his accomplishments would be possible. His mother would be extremely proud of him. 

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