SMYRNA — In 2019, Dr. TaQuina “Dr. Tee” Warren opened Focus Pharmacy in Smyrna with the desire to help those affected by diabetes — but eight months into her new business venture, she decided to pivot to help everyone fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Diabetes is a large part of Dr. Warren’s life. Before opening her pharmacy, her husband was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and then her daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Though scary, she knew she had to use her skills and the resources of her new business to help fight against COVID-19.
“Originally, I was a little nervous, because I have my two diabetic patients at home, my husband and my daughter. I was nervous about bringing COVID home to them, but with some prayer and talking it over with the family and taking the necessary precautions, we started doing COVID-19 testing here. And then once the vaccine became available, we started administering the vaccine,” Dr. Warren said.
Not only did she have to worry about potentially bringing home a virus that has been proven to be potentially deadly to immunocompromised people — like those living with diabetes — she was worried about her new business.
“I cried in the beginning of the pandemic when everything was shut down. I was like, ‘Oh, no, this was not a good decision. Or God did I not hear you, right? Was I really supposed to be opening eight months before a pandemic?’ You’ve got to be kidding me. So, in the beginning it was very rough, very rough,” Dr. Warren said.
Dr. Warren didn’t let fear or doubt get in her way. She knew she could make a difference and she did.
“COVID did open my eyes. I realized that people really do need help. Not just with the experience of COVID-19 but making healthier choices,” Dr. Warren said.
“I know I am needed here. Let me just help my people, help my community because we’ve lost a lot of folks to COVID and it’s really sad.”
Her community is based in Smyrna — the town where she grew up, met her husband and chose to come back to raise her family and start her business.
Dr. Warren said she’s felt the impact of the virus with the loss of family members and friends.
Though she kept her doors open to serve her customers and patients, her business was hurting.
“The misconception was it’s health care, so she should do well, but people weren’t going to the doctor, (hospitals) weren’t doing surgeries and everything was kind of put on hold,” she said.
When asked how many people she’s tested or given vaccines to, she said, “it’s got to be thousands now.”
To help keep her lights on, she has received grants from the government and other aid to help with testing and vaccinations.
But she needed to try and reach more customers so she took to social media and started to tell her story.
One group which heard her story was her financial service provider, Wells Fargo.
Last week, Dr. Warren came to work to find a television crew from ABC’s “Good Morning America” was at her store.
Wells Fargo partnered with GMA to recognize Dr. Warren for her work during the pandemic. Beyond being featured on the nationally televised show, she was treated to a spa day and while she was being pampered, friends, family and volunteers swarmed her store and helped redecorate and prepare the store for the holiday season.
Winter scenes were painted on the windows, garland was hung and shrubs were placed in front of the store.
The recognition came as part of Wells Fargo’s Hope USA initiative.
“Hope USA is Wells Fargo’s campaign to bring hope back to the streets,” said Mary Mack, CEO of consumer and small-business banking for Wells Fargo.
The surprise didn’t end at decorations. Ms. Mack announced that Wells Fargo was donating $10,000 to the American Diabetes Association in her honor.
“This is so amazing,” Dr. Warren said.
The segment aired on GMA on Nov. 19 and can be seen at fb.watch/9nsELyXqOU/
Dr. Warren said she hopes her patients feel the same way she felt during the surprise when she focuses on them.
Her focus on patients is why she named her business Focus Pharmacy.
“I came up with the name because my focus is my patient. So, my focus is you.”
Despite all the challenges, she still calls her business a dream come true.
“This was a dream and to be able to live it and experience it has been amazing even in the midst of this and starting eight months before the pandemic,” Dr. Warren said.
For more information about Focus Pharmacy call 302-471-3046 or visit here.
Focus Pharmacy, at 117 E. Glenwood Ave., Smyrna, is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; from 1 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays; and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.