EAMC’s Pharmacy Director 0f 36 years steps down
By Rebekah Martin
East Alabama Medical Center said goodbye to its long-time Director of Pharmacy, Buddy Young, last week with a reception in his honor on Friday. Young, who began working at the hospital when it was known as Lee County Hospital, first joined the staff after graduating from Auburn University in 1972. It was during that time that Young worked under the guidance of the hospital’s first pharmacy director, Patty Turner, for whom Young said he has a great deal of love and respect.
Before becoming the second person to hold the position of pharmacy director, Young was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, where he was a pharmacist in the second infantry. He spent five years deployed to the demilitarized area of Korea before returning stateside. After his stint as an active duty soldier, Young was stationed at Ft. Benning, Ga. for a year before returning to Opelika and making the city his lifelong home.
Young joined the staff of the Lee County Hospital in January 1979, around the time it was being incorporated and transitioning from a county hospital into East Alabama Medical Center. His career began as a staff pharmacist, and he was quickly promoted to a management position. In 1988, when Turner retired, Young assumed his former mentor’s position and became the second person in the hospital’s history to hold the title – a role he has filled for the last 27 years.
“[During that time] the hospital was drastically changing. It was transitioning from LCH to an actual medical center, and there was a lot going on and the pharmacy needed to change with it. The department’s job was to get the drugs to the patients correctly and they did that very well,” Young said. “But as the hospital changed and the area changed, the pharmacy needed to change with it.” It was under Young’s leadership that these changes began to occur.
“We were one of the very first hospitals in the state to install automated dispensing cabinets. The way those work is the nurse goes up and puts her finger on a biometric device and it recognizes her, and then it knows which patients are hers and which drugs the doctor has cleared for the patients to be given. We put pharmacists out on the floor, and started to transition them out of the main pharmacy so they would be right out there with the doctors, nurses and patients and that works really well for everybody.”
Young said he is proud of all the department has accomplished during his tenure. In 2001, the hospital developed a post doctoral residency program in conjunction with Auburn University. “We’ve seen many good, quality pharmacists come out of this program,” Young said. “We have a very low turnover; once people are here they have a tendency to stay.”
A great deal has changed at EAMC since Young joined the staff and began working his way up the ladder. Decentralizing the pharmacy and moving to a more clinical basis to match the needs of the hospital as it grew was the approach Young said he and his staff used. He said he believes everything that has taken place over the past 37 years has been a team effort. “While I was the visionary behind many of these changes, you can’t accomplish something if you don’t have a lot of people to help you,” Young said. “There were a lot of people, a lot of very fine people, including a very supportive administration. These people had to get behind me, to give me the tools I needed and they did.”
Young said his management style is different than most and it was his approach that he credits with the success of his department. “I’m not the brightest bulb on the porch, but I know how to find bright bulbs and put them where they need to be,” Young said.
Young said he is very much a people person and he attributes his success to that and to the quality of people who made up the pharmacy department for nearly 40 years. “The people are just amazing. The quality of the people has been my greatest joy because I am a people person,” Young said. “That’s what I am missing right now, the chatter I could hear from my office of the people talking about what they did over the weekend – I’m missing that already. If you go into the pharmacy, you’ll see laughter and teasing, but you’ll see people who are totally committed to patient care.”
As far as his future is concerned, Young said he plans on spending a good part of his retirement with his family. Young married his high school sweetheart, Becky and together they have two children, Clay and Brandi who are both Auburn graduates. “At the end of the day, it all boils down to this: family is the most important and it’s all you have.”
His retirement plans include getting to work on his “honey-do list” and being out at every Auburn sporting event imaginable. “I am going to be a fixture down there, from girls soccer to softball to you-name-it. I’m also planning on picking up that fishing pole again and getting back to that,” Young said.
Young said retirement feels surreal after such a long and successful career, and he believes it will take a little time to adjust to the changes.
“I’ve been very blessed, and I think what I will struggle with the most while I try to put this new life of mine together is missing the people. It amazes me that people think about a successful person and think it’s because of them. You’re successful because of the people that surround you.”