SPRING GROVE, Minn. (KTTC) — A common face at the Sterling Pharmacies in Harmony, Spring Grove, Caledonia, Rushford and La Cresent is saying goodbye after more than four decades in the industry.
Pharmacist Eric Slindee is retiring at the end of the week following 43 years of service in southeast Minnesota.
Slindee had an interest for pharmacy work in high school, and over the decades, it became more of a passion and love for helping and caring for citizens in southeastern Minnesota.
Slindee started his pharmacy career in Austin, working there for two years before moving to West St. Paul. He’s called Harmony home since 1982 and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I’ve made a lot of nice relationships with people and we really made a difference in people’s lives,” Slindee said. “I think rural healthcare and small town healthcare is really important.”
Slindee graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1978 and has seen a lot of changes in the pharmacy industry, especially over the past year in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When I started, it was one clerk and a manual typewriter, but now with the pandemic it’s required a lot of creativity,” Slindee said.
Slindee and Sterling Pharmacy did their best to continue assisting customers through delivery, curbside pickup and a lot of phone calls.
Then when the vaccine became available, the hard work continued as the public health departments in Houston and Fillmore counties got the ball rolling.
“It’s a lot of logistics,” Slindee said. “It’s not just putting the vaccine in the arm. But it’s contacting people, making appointments, sometimes billing insurance if that’s required. So yeah, it’s quite an undertaking and a lot of calls and a lot of interaction for that.”
As a self-proclaimed ‘people person’ Slindee rose to the challenge to help the rural communities of southeastern Minnesota stay safe and healthy.
“Early on it was really nice that we could call our patients so they could be vaccinated in their town or very near their town,” Slindee said.
And even though his days behind the counter are numbered, the memories will stay for a lifetime.
“I will very much miss my coworkers,” Slindee said. “But most of all I’m going to miss my patients. That daily contact, you know. Unique opportunity to be involved, not just their healthcare, but in their lives.”
Slindee says it warms his heart to hear and receive all the well wishes from his customers and friends across all of the communities he’s served.
He is looking forward to spending more time with his grandkids and family during retirement.