Dark Clouds. Bright Light. Ed Ullmann’s Brilliant Vision.

Dark Clouds. Bright Light. Ed Ullmann’s Brilliant Vision.

Dark Clouds. Bright Light. Ed Ullmann’s Brilliant Vision.

By A.D. Lubow

    Visionaries, especially in dark times, show us the bright contrast of the light. Ed Ullmann and his devoted staff at Wellness Rx are doing just that.

    When Chuck and Deborah Royce asked Ullmann to design a pharmacy that would serve the local mountaintop town of Tannersville, he accepted, not knowing the extent of the challenges ahead.  Corporate chains were squeezing out the few remaining local, independent pharmacies. The same thing was happening to small town physicians’ offices. It was all in the name of efficiency but it was devolving into something more like one-size-fits all, industrialized care. Young pharmacists were feeling more like clerks in a department store. The outlook for pharmacy students seemed bleak. Then came the pandemic, with health care worker shortages and hospitals stretched to the breaking point.  All the while, politicians were attacking each other rather than the problems.

    Visionaries solve problems. Politicians exploit them. Ed Ullmann had been a pioneer CEO in the advent of the Health Maintenance organization. And he was a refugee from both government and corporate politics. So, when he was approached by the Royces’ Hunter Foundation to start a local pharmacy, he reasoned: here's a chance to escape the nonsense that handcuffs creative solutions.  

    If there is a primary lesson learned from the success of Wellness Rx, it’s this: Why become embroiled in the national malaise of health care inaction when you can actually make a huge difference on the local level.  In Ed’s hands the pharmacy dispensed not just drugs, but wellness for the whole person with natural remedies, exercise and a network of personalized caregivers. You may remember something in the healthcare profession called “bedside manners.” Ed revived it, with his special talent for listening to each patient’s narrative. But, much to Ed’s chagrin, the story of too many local tradespeople was: they couldn’t afford health care. In response, Ed started fundraising and enlisting his staff’s time and expertise to help the uninsured. 

    And now, hopefully with support from foundations and other major donors at his side, Ed has embarked on taking the concept to another level by transforming Wellness Rx into a sustainable, not-for-profit pharmacy which will combine the best of public care and private organizational knowhow in a wholesome, scenic small-town environment. Combine that with a healthy dose of support for the local school and interns from the nearby Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and there you have it. Healthcare already feels better.

    That’s the next chapter of Ed’s vision. If you want to support it, do come aboard.

    The gloomy clouds at the other end of my sun-drenched driveway made me think of all the darkness we’ve been through during the pandemic. Dark clouds on the horizon are always a little scary. But look on the bright side. Dark problems make creative solutions look all the more brilliant.


Arthur Lubow, the creative director of AD Lubow, is also co-author with George H. Lewis of the award-winning book, The Boy and the Boy King. Look for the Audible version of The Boy and the Boy King on Amazon soon.