SWANTON VILLAGE — The Northern Tier Center for Health takes ownership of Swanton Rexall on June 1.

Troy Spaulding, the Rexall’s current owner, said only so much will change for the pharmacy’s existing customers.

Pharmacy operations will continue in the same location without interruption, but the store’s retail inventory will gradually deplete as the transition in ownership nears.

Reached by the Messenger Wednesday morning, Spaulding stressed that current Swanton Rexall patients can continue as if nothing has changed. They needn’t be NOTCH patients as well to use the pharmacy after the change in ownership goes into effect.

The Spaulding family has owned the Swanton Rexall since Dexter Spaulding purchased the Merchants Row pharmacy in 1962, according to a press statement on the transition.

Troy purchased the business from Dexter and Dexter’s brother, Bruce Spaulding, in 2002.

The Swanton Rexall currently has 11 employees. Spaulding said most will continue once the business changes hands.

Five of those employees are Spauldings. There’s Troy, of course, and then Judith, Kendall, Louise and Olivia.

Spaulding said the transition to NOTCH ownership was crucial for Swanton Rexall to “continue as a community pharmacy.”

“Being an independent pharmacy is not like it used to [be],” Spaulding told the Messenger.

Swanton Rexall owner Troy Spaulding, center, stands with pharmacists Olivia Sprague and James Hakey. (Courtesy of NOTCH)

Pam Parsons, NOTCH’s executive director, expressed similar sentiments.

Parsons said the transfer in ownership accords with NOTCH’s mission, “keeping rural communities strong.”

“It’s hard for independent businesses,” Parsons said.

Patients need a pharmacy, of course, but Parsons said the proximity of that pharmacy is equally crucial for strong communities. The nearness of the pharmacy eliminates a common obstacle for many patients: transportation.

This isn’t the first time NOTCH has taken ownership of a rural pharmacy.

Parsons said the owner of Richford Rexall approached NOTCH in 2004 about transferring ownership of that pharmacy after more than 20 years in business.

The circumstances were similar, according to Parsons: the owner wanted to keep the pharmacy in the community, but couldn’t keep operating as an independent pharmacy. The owner had received an offer from a retail chain, but the chain planned to close the pharmacy.

Pharmacies aside, NOTCH is a federally qualified health center with six medical offices, in Alburgh, Enosburg Falls, Fairfax, Richford, St. Albans and Swanton. The Richford and Swanton offices also offer dental services.

NOTCH offers a sliding fee discount program to eligible patients at all its locations.

For more information, visit notchvt.org, or call 255-5560.

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