Sailing to Bahrain
Before he ships out to Bahrain near Saudi Arabia this summer, US Coast Guard Chief Chris Cisneros and his wife Tamara vacationed in Williamsburg and took a leisurely sail along the York River on a warm spring afternoon. It was warm enough to feel like we were sailing to Bahrain. First he’ll spend a month in special ops training at a base in Moyock, North Carolina, just over the Virginia border. Chris is a medic in the Coast Guard.
Tamara is a pharmacist with Walgreens who’s working on a specialty store that will handle HIV meds training. She explained to me the effects Oxycontin (a.k.a. Oxycodone), which is used to control pain and is highly addictive. I asked if pharmacists can spot a sketchy addict who approaches the counter.
“They want to get the prescription filled right away. ‘Do I really have to wait 15 minutes?’ they’ll ask. Or the prescription will be from an out-of-state doctor. Florida is typical. Or they pay cash. We tell them they’ll have to wait so we can verify the script. ‘What do you mean? It’s from my doctor! I need it quickly.”
I learned that your meds follow you around. “Virginia has a database with your identification so that as you move from pharmacy to pharmacy, we can track your history. We can track doctors too. I had one doctor who was writing 4,000 pain prescriptions a year when suddenly it went to 400,000 a year. She lost her license and got five years in prison.”
Even though the pharmacy consumes only 10% of a given Walgreens, Tamara says it generates up to 60% of the gross revenues in each store. “It’s never less than 50%.”
Tamara ran the helm effortlessly despite fluky winds that required constant attention. We sailed over to Yorktown to see the Polynesian voyager canoe that’s here on a circumnavigation of the globe. Up close, it looked pretty rickety and hardly seaworthy for the Pacific Ocean and the other five.
Given their surname and Chris’s roots in Texas, I couldn’t resist asking him, “What ever happened to Henry Cisneros?” He was the famous mayor of San Antonio who was Secretary of Housing & Urban Development for President Clinton in the 1990s. “He’s my father’s second cousin. We don’t see much of him.”
As we headed back to port, I couldn’t help admire these two young people for serving their nation and our society in important ways.
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