Bob Dominguez Achievement Award Nominee
By Mike Maltais
Dutch Atchley is prepared for emergencies because he has experienced several. As the owner of Ojai Rexall in Ojai, California, Dutch has experienced flood, earthquake, and, most recently, wildfire and has learned the value of being prepared for whatever comes next.
“I have all the backup systems,” says Dutch. “Generators, supplies, a van to load everything.”
As natives of Ojai, a city of about 8,000 residents in Ventura County, Dutch and Diane Atchley purchased Ojai Rexall in 1990 from the previous owner, who Dutch calls his mentor and for whom he worked before he bought the business.
When the fire was threatening the town, Dutch and two employees stayed to keep the pharmacy doors open so people could still access needed medications.Today, Ojai Rexall, an independent Good Neighbor Pharmacy, is a key fixture in a community that is trying to recover from the ravages of the 2017 Thomas fire that nearly consumed the town on its way to burning nearly 300,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in Southern California.
During the Thomas crisis, the local hospital received so many patients and requests for medications it contacted Dutch to take the patient calls first to help triage. “That took a lot of pressure off the hospital,” Dutch says.
When the fire was threatening the town, Dutch and two employees stayed to keep the pharmacy doors open so people could still access needed medications. “We were also dealing with many out-of-area patients who could not get critical medications,” Dutch recalled.
Dutch supports the Ojai Valley Community Hospital Foundation and local health events like the American Heart Association’s Heart and Sole (named for Sole Park) 5K and 10K runs. He participates in wellness clinics and is involved with community efforts that raise money for fire victims.
Dutch donates medications to a local group of caregivers who travel to the island of Roatán in the Caribbean to provide medical services to the poor inhabitants. He has been asked to go along.
“They really need a pharmacist there,” says Dutch. “Last year I was able to supply them with medications through AmerisourceBergen that were otherwise unavailable.”
For the time being, Dutch has his hands full helping his community with the long, slow road to recovery.
“I learned from being on the Red Cross Board,” he says. “We have to depend upon ourselves.”