Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories first published in the Chronicle’s annual Health and Wellness special section of the March 1 print edition, sponsored for the second year by Franciscan Health.
If you’ve lived in the Homewood-Flossmoor area for many years, you may remember Johnson’s Pharmacy in downtown Homewood, across the street from the post office.
The business name has remained the same, but customers don’t go to the store at 1916 Ridge Road to get a prescription filled. Today, the stock in Johnson’s has everything to do with wellness – of a different kind.
Johnson’s has a wide variety of durable medical equipment and supplies for home medical care. The stock includes canes, compression stockings, diabetic shoes, wheelchairs, walkers, back supports for office chairs or for patients in bed, health products for incontinence, a variety of gauzes and pads, and so much more.
Pharmacist Timothy Brady bought Johnson’s in the 1980s from Dave Johnson and ran it as a pharmacy until about 2000. Johnson and his wife Kay, who was a nurse, had already started carrying some home health equipment, mostly glucose monitors.
When Brady took over the store with his wife, Deb, they converted to home health needs. Deb, a nurse and former nurse educator, said it wasn’t hard for her to stock the store. She remembers being excited by new items, compared to what she would see come off a cart at a hospital.
“It was kind of fun to see that I could get an amber roll-aider, I could get a blue something, and I thought: ‘Wow!’ I was like the kid in the candy shop — this is so cool,’” Deb recalled.
She’s worked in intensive care units, and her background is in cardiovascular care and wound treatment, so compression stockings are a store specialty, as are ice/heat packs.
Walking into Johnson’s, the first thing that catches your eye is the line of walkers, but Deb said the store has a wide age range of clientele.
“It’s interesting, we see a lot of the younger people for compression. We get a lot of younger people with the sports injuries, orthopedic-type, like sprained ankles. We’re seeing mostly older people like they need a seat-lift chair or bedside commode, so it just depends,” she said.
Johnson’s is staffed by Karen Buchanan and Deb Brady.
They share responsibilities between the Homewood store and Brady’s in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood, another former pharmacy converted to home medical needs. Deb said hours are by appointment at the Chicago store due to COVID-19 restrictions and staff availability. The stores do share stock, so if it’s not in Homewood, a product may be available from the Chicago store.
Depending on what your needs are, Buchanan and Brady may ask questions and do quick measurements to make certain the customer is getting a proper fit and a correct tool.
“I want to make sure we’re teaching and training and that people know how to use something,” Deb said. “If you buy something and you don’t know how to use it or it doesn’t work for you, it’s not appropriate.”
Doctors, nurses, physical therapists and others often refer patients to Johnson’s. Deb said she appreciates the good words. Johnson’s is accredited by the national Community Health Accreditation Partners network for home medical equipment needs.
“We have to put together what our core values are, and one of our top core values is ‘Treat others like Christ would treat someone,’ so we really focus on us treating people with respect,” Deb said. “I know everybody always says their mission in life is to give good service, but I guess I always wanted to be better than good service.”
Johnson’s is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.