Fellowship Story Showcase
Second-Generation Pharmacist Peter Caldwell Fills a Vital Role with Patient Health Care
This article was written by Noozhawk Intern Daniel Langhorne as part of Day 5 in Noozhawk's 12-day, six-week special investigative series. Related links are below.
The Noozhawk's Prescription for Abuse series is a special project exploring the misuse and abuse of prescription medications in Santa Barbara County. Our series is a result of an exciting and unique partnership with USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, which awarded Noozhawk a California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship to undertake this important work.
Through our reporting and presentation, we will establish an independent baseline of where our community is with respect to the misuse and abuse of prescription medications; how the problem is affecting health care, education, law enforcement, criminal justice, addiction and treatment, and our culture and society; what we as a community can do to educate ourselves about prevention and controls; and how we can perhaps reverse what appears to be a very troubling trend.
Noozhawk staff writers Lara Cooper and Giana Magnoli are the lead reporters on the project, and they've been assisted by managing editor Michelle Nelson; reporters Alex Kacik and Sonia Fernandez; interns Kristin Crosier, Jessica Ferguson, Tim Fucci, Kristen Gowdy, Jessica Haro, Daniel Langhorne, Alexa Shapiro, Sam Skopp, Erin Stone and Sarah Webb; photographers Garrett Geyer and Nick St.Oegger; content producer Cliff Redding; and Web development staffers Will Macfadyen and Edgar Oliveira.
Ashley Almada, Garrett Geyer, Hailey Sestak and Billy Spencer of the Santa Barbara Teen News Network filmed more than two dozen public-service videos featuring many of our story sources.
The project is sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation in partnership with KEYT, sbTNN and Zona Seca. The Annenberg School is assisted by the Renaissance Journalism Center at San Francisco State University.
» Second-Generation Pharmacist Peter Caldwell Fills a Vital Role with Patient Health Care
Name: Peter Caldwell Pharm.D.
Location: Santa Barbara
Pharmacist Peter Caldwell jokes that his career path was set as an infant when his parents used a prescription cabinet for his bassinet.
Caldwell‘s family has been in the pharmacy business since his father, Mike, married a young woman named Mary who worked the cash register at a pharmacy in Seattle during the 1940s.
Caldwell runs L.M. Caldwell Pharmacy with a sense of humor — a good trait to have, given the size of the health-care industry today from what it was when he took over the family business in 1977.
“Bureaucracy is the biggest consumer of health care at the moment,” he said.
Getting insurance companies out of the health-care business would be the best thing for everyone, Caldwell says.
It is luck that the Caldwells ended up in Santa Barbara.
Caldwell’s father was an avid golfer and grew tired of walking Seattle’s soggy courses after it rained. After hearing about a golfer’s paradise called La Jolla, he decided to move his family down the coast.
While visiting Santa Barbara on their way south, the family’s Buick broke down and they were stranded for a three-day weekend. They enjoyed the beach community so much that they never left.
He was stationed in an administrative post at a training and supply base in the Seattle area before returning to Santa Barbara.
Caldwell’s mother ran the pharmacy’s business and worked there until she was 90.
“This was my mother’s social life,” he said. “Here she had all this social activity all the time. She knew all the people, they knew her, and that’s really what kept her going all that time.”
With neither of his daughters interested in becoming pharmacists, Caldwell, 67, plans to keep working as long as he enjoys it.
Caldwell says misuse of prescription medications is becoming a major issue but pharmacists are now prevented by HIPAA privacy rules from notifying each other about forged prescriptions.
“It put a damper on our ability to do the things we want to do to protect the public and the providers,” he said.
Caldwell says the state of California also made a mistake by no longer selling standardized prescription pads to physicians. Today, he says he sees prescription pads in a variety of shapes and with different security features.
“We’re not cops,” Caldwell said. “We’re not supposed to be having to check the validity of every person who comes through the door, but we’re having to do that sort of thing.”