Lucas Smith

Lucas Smith enjoys working in the Buena Vista Drug pharmacy.

A bike-versus-car accident in September nearly took a man’s life had it not been for three people in the right place at the right time. Lucas Smith was one of those people.

After making sure they were all out of danger, Smith and the others made sure the injured man, Josh Fohner, had a pulse as they waited for an ambulance to arrive.

“I’m just glad that God put us in the right place to be there and that all three of us had training in emergency CPR, so we knew what to do,” says Smith. “We were put in the right place at the right time to help him.”

Fohner is currently on the road to recovery in a hospital in Texas.

On Nov. 16, the Buena Vista Police Department hosted an award ceremony for Fohner’s saviors.

Each received a Certificate of Honor – the highest honor awarded to a citizen – from the Colorado State Patrol and the BVPD, as well as a Lifesaver award from the town of Buena Vista.

“The police department awarded us for being there and knowing what to do and help with that,” says Smith. “It was a good honor to have.”

Smith has more than just training in CPR. He currently works as a pharmacist at Buena Vista Drug, a job he’s held for 2-plus years.

Growing up in Colorado Springs, he attended Western State University for his undergraduate program. As in high school, he spent his first couple of college years playing football as an offensive lineman. Little did he know this choice would later lead to a completely different career path.

“I got hurt my sophomore year and developed a DVT (deep vein thrombosis) in my leg,” he says. “I had to do some blood therapy monitoring with the pharmacist in the hospital in Gunnison.”

During that time, Smith became interested in medicine and picked up on everything he could at the hospital. He decided during his sophomore year that pharmacy school would be his next destination. So he attended Colorado University Denver after completing his undergraduate program.

While in school, Smith worked at a compounding pharmacy. He also had more unique work with a nuclear pharmacy, where radioactive drugs for imaging purposes were made. This job kept him busy from 2 a.m. to 7 or 8 a.m., and then he’d be off to his classes.

“We had to wear some protective garb and had a lot of lead plating to protect ourselves from radiation,” says Smith. “It was a lot of drying off the doses in syringes and making sure they’re packaged safely to transport to the hospital. We’d fill them all in one place in Denver and then transport them to all the hospitals in the surrounding area. It was definitely an interesting experience.”

Smith really liked the small mountain towns of Colorado, which he experienced during his time in Gunnison. While in school, he saw the opportunity to come to Buena Vista and begin buying the local pharmacy. The timing worked out perfectly with his graduation, and he arrived in Buena Vista in July 2014.

“The way the ownership works is a group of seven people bought the pharmacy from Tom Smallwood and I’m buying it from them,” he explains. “So right now, I’m 2-1/2 years into a 5-year transition from those other owners, and in another 2-1/2 years, I’ll be the full owner.”

Though it comes with its stresses, Smith remains happy and passionate about his job. Working with this independent pharmacy allows him to grow closer to the patients who come to see him.

Because of this, he is “able to come in and provide or dispense some medication for somebody when we’re actually closed, or an antibiotic for a kid who needed it when we’re closed on the weekend. That’s just something you don’t get to do if you worked at a chain drug store, because I can come in and help people that way when they really need it.”

Smith is also happy to be able to compound medicine for patients.

When certain manufactured drugs don’t match a person’s needs, he can adjust the medication to make it better work for them.

Smith is pleased to see the pharmacy grow and get busier every month. He even saw to the addition of the pharmacy’s drive-thru and its new sign.

“That was a big accomplishment,” he says, “just kind of updating things in the building. The drive-thru provides a little more convenience for people.”

Plenty of optimism remains for the future innovations at Buena Vista Drug. “Soon we’re going to be able to do rapid strep tests in the pharmacy,” says Smith. “Then we can test for that and dispense an antibiotic if the person is positive.”

The pharmacy is also working on medication synchronization, allowing patients to get their medications all at the same time, saving them multiple trips.

Smith looks forward to the pharmacy’s continued growth and possible expansion to nearby communities. He also looks forward to having a family someday.

“We love this place and we love the town,” he says. “We’ve gotten to know a lot of younger people who have families, too.”

(1) comment

Austin Baker

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