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Aurora pharmacy technician who treats people like family retirees


Many people believe that life’s events just happen, and that moment happened Friday for 69-year-old Sandra Marcum of Yorkville.

“I’ve been working here for 48 years,” Marcum said as he stood behind the counter of the Jewel-Osco pharmacy at 1952 W. Galena Boulevard. In Aurora. “Today is my last day.”

Wearing a lab coat adorned with numerous service pins and a pink sash across the shoulders that read “I’m Retired,” Marcum, born and raised in Aurora, reflected on a career that has spanned nearly five decades and produced hundreds of loyal customers.

“People have been coming all week long to say goodbye. It’s time for me to step aside, but it’s also kind of sad,” Marcum said on his last day of work.

“I started on February 23, 1976,” he said. “I was married at the time and my husband had graduated and was applying to law school and I needed a job. I applied to many different places, especially office jobs, and received two phone calls. “Someone called and said there was an opening at Osco.”

Marcum said he “didn’t know what to do in the store,” and when he learned the job was for a pharmacy technician, he immediately told his future employer, “I don’t know anything about it.”

“’You don’t have to do what I was told on the phone,’” Marcum recalled. “They said they would train me on the job. The other place I applied to also called me the same day and offered me more money, but I had worked in an office before and thought this other thing might be fun.”

Marcum said he was hired immediately and became the pharmacy’s first full-time technician.

His duties included technically managing the work, which was started using an electric typewriter.

“We started with an electric typewriter, printed numbers on prescriptions, and people could pay for them in cash,” Marcum recalled. “Since then many computer systems have been installed that I have had to learn each time. “There have been advancements for pharmacy professionals in the tests I’ve gone through, and you have more responsibilities here, including training new technicians and running programs.”

Marcum said his day job involves “doing pretty much everything from taking prescriptions, filling them, waiting on customers and shipping things out.”

“Everything is controlled by the pharmacist first, but he also has a lot of responsibility,” he said. “COVID was very challenging because our store was going out and doing all the clinics and setting up in an empty building. I wasn’t trained to give shots, but there were other technicians who were trained to do that.”

Roald Haase, 79, of Aurora, said he was a longtime customer who knew Marcum as a trustworthy person who knew his and his family’s health history.

“This goes back at least 25 years. “She knows me by name because my name is weird enough that people know her like my wife, Laurel,” Haase said. “It’s nice to see someone you know who knows a little bit about your past medical condition and medical needs. There’s a certain sophistication to what she does and a certain intensity that goes with that. ”

Aadil Vhora, a staff pharmacist at the same Jewel-Osco, described her as “kind of a mother who takes care of all of us here.”

“This is an emotional situation for him and for me,” Vhora said Friday. “Even though I’ve been here for less than a year, it feels like much longer; It’s like the 30 years I’ve been with him.

“She is like our mother to us,” Vhora said. “Even though he is a technician, he keeps everyone under control, even the manager himself. He makes sure everything is done on time. We know things will be done the right way.”

Vhoro said Marcum had a good relationship with customers.

“The most important thing is its ability to go further,” Vhora said. “Everyone who comes to the pharmacy here knows Sandy. She built a relationship with the customers and kept them coming back.”

Marcum admits that working in a pharmacy has become more than just a paycheck.

“It turns out this is more than a job, it’s a family.” “Everyone is family. You know the customer’s family, you know what’s going on, it’s a window into a lot of people’s lives, and there are a lot of customers who were still here when I started.

“I always try to put on a happy face, and everyone gets into their own personal matters—new restaurants to try and stuff,” she said. “I worked here with a recently retired pharmacist for about 35 years, and you could finish each other’s sentences.”

Like many people approaching retirement, Marcum said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family.

“I have two grandchildren that I hope to spend more time with, and another grandmother cares for a 1-year-old five days a week, and I want to steal some of that time,” she said. “I feel like I’ve done my time. I started working when I was 15 and have been working ever since. “I’m not as fast with computers as the kids who came here, and it’s time to let another group come in.”

David Sharos is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.


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