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East meets West at new Rocklin pharmacy

Model designed to bring back a slice of small-town America
By: Teresa O'Hanlon, Placer Herald correspondent
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H & H Integrative Pharmacy

Where: 1240 Sunset Blvd., Suite 500

Phone: 259-2558

Ask Grandma to recall her childhood pharmacist. She might remember how the man in the white coat did more than dispense prescriptions and advise patient after patient. In their heyday, pharmacies were neighborhood hangouts and the pharmacist knew children by name and stocked a soda fountain knowing a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Havy Nguyen had her grandmother in mind when she opened her new business, H & H Integrative Pharmacy, on the corner of West Oaks and Sunset in Rocklin last November. She has childhood memories of her grandmother tending to patients as one of the few female pharmacists in 1970s Nha Trang, Vietnam.

“I got to go with her everywhere, every day, because I grew up with her and not with my parents,” Nguyen remembered. “In Vietnam, after the war, families got separated because of jobs, so I didn’t get to be with my mom when I was really little, so my grandma was like my mother. She took care of me and I always followed her like a shadow.”

Nguyen remembers Grandma being tough, caring and always seeking the best treatments for her patients. When the Nguyen family immigrated to the United States in 1991 and settled in California, it was only natural for the granddaughter who spent her earliest days watching over the sick to choose a career in the medical field.

“My grandmother is everything to me, and she is everything I am today,” Nguyen said. “I’ve been a pharmacist for 10 years now and I do dispense prescription medicine, but I am also a believer of natural, homeopathic methods and I bring in the preventive approach. I feel people in Rocklin, Roseville and Lincoln are very open-minded to that approach.”

H & H Integrative Pharmacy is a Leader Pharmacy and a non-sterile compounding pharmacy, which allows Nguyen to change the form of a medication from a solid pill to a liquid or a cream to meet the individual needs of a patient.

“I do have a traditional retail where I give medications, but I also make things that are not available in the market,” Nguyen said. “A lot of medication is discontinued or not available to patients. If a patient has throat cancer and cannot swallow their medication, I can go ahead and transform that into a suppository or a cream. For cats and dogs, we can flavor their medicine. We offer another approach that other retail might not offer.”

Customers will find a dessert bar in the corner of the pharmacy where they can sit and swivel at the counter and enjoy a cupcake, slice of pie or hot beverage.

“We have fresh cupcakes from my partner and baker Dee Alamares and organic coffee from Vaneli’s,” said Nguyen’s brother and dessert bar owner Tino Nguyen. “Patients and kids can sit down at the dessert bar while they wait for a prescription.”

Roxanne James of Roseville visited the pharmacy for the vitamin B12 clinic and some advice on natural hormone therapy.

“My girlfriend told me to take extra-black cohosh, but I have no idea how much I’m supposed to take,” she said. “Everybody’s different, so you have to come to a pharmacy like this to find out the right dosage. Also, the lady giving B12 shots is a doctor, so I’m going to ask her some questions.”

A section of H & H Integrative Pharmacy is filled with alternative and preventive medications made popular by talk show host and cardiac surgeon Dr. Oz. Some of the most desired products include a Himalayan salt inhaler, vitamin D3 drops and Sambucus immune booster.

“I called Havy up before she even opened,” said Susan Silva, of Rocklin. “So many people have chronic infections from inflammations due to eating the wrong foods, living with pesticides … antibiotics are devastating to our G.I. tracts. Havy would suggest ways to counter and recolonize yourself.”

Nguyen holds monthly workshops and clinics with Dr. Shannon Wood Gallegos, a board-certified naturopathic doctor, to educate the community and make homeopathic medicines more accessible. She is also passionate about skin care.

“There is dermatology prescription medication that is really drying and strong, but I can compound it and add on a sunscreen and vitamins such as A, E and C with other antioxidant cream where it’s going to protect the patient’s skin,” she shared. “It has to be prescribed by the doctor of course, but I can work with the doctor and when I get the prescription I can compound it for the patient.”

Nguyen has brought back a neighborhood nook of sorts, providing prescriptions and natural care with every comfort you’d find at grandma’s house, even the cupcakes.