Dr. Tee fills her community’s prescriptions and health education needs, one person at a time
Dr. TaQuina Warren — a pharmacist known as Dr. Tee — fulfilled her dream of opening a pharmacy where she can not only fill prescriptions, but guide others toward better health.
Dr. TaQuina Warren has been sitting in consultation for nearly an hour with a woman who’s trying to manage her weight. Their 15-minute appointment leisurely stretches out as they talk about nutrition, exercise, life challenges, and even their shared religious experience. They exchange a high-five to acknowledge a one-pound weight loss. All successes are celebrated.
“We’re going to keep plugging at it until she reaches her goal. We’re in this thing together,” said Dr. Warren — or “Dr. Tee” as she’s known throughout her Smyrna, Delaware, community.
Good health first, business success second
Dr. Tee isn’t a physician; she’s a pharmacist who sees her role as much more than filling prescriptions. She has, and acts on, a burning desire to guide others toward better health.
Her specialty is helping people manage diabetes. She also provides counsel for weight management and lifestyle modification through a 26-week program called Take Charge. Although her work is officially done once the program ends, Dr. Tee — in true Dr. Tee style — willingly remains an accountability partner to ensure patients maintain their results.
Because of this focus on the patient, she aptly named her business, opened in July 2019, Focus Pharmacy with the tagline “Our focus is you.”
“When I first met her and asked about the business, she didn’t go into numbers. She went right into what was important to her as a business owner — and that clearly was helping her community,” said Collin Raysor, Wells Fargo senior small business industry relationship manager. “She cares about the success of the business, but that comes second to the health of her community.”
A dream 15 years in the making
“She is selfless, and I really like that we took time to recognize her with the Hope, USA campaign because she thinks about everybody but herself,” — Collin Raysor, Wells Fargo senior small business industry relationship manager
Dr. Tee had long wanted to be in the medical field, initially leaning toward obstetrics before settling on pharmacy.
At 25, she told her husband she wanted to open her own pharmacy. But then, “when life happens and you have kids and you’re working, sometimes your dreams get put on the back burner,” she said.
That dream came to fruition 15 years later. “It was the best year of my life,” she said. “I stepped away from my job and walked into my dream of owning a pharmacy. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is it!’ I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Yet that dream almost didn’t happen. Before turning to Wells Fargo for a business loan, she’d been denied by a couple of other banks. “You start to get discouraged when you’re going to places and you’re hearing the ‘No,’” she said. “I could have very well after the second ‘No’ just given up.”
Selflessness recognized on ‘Good Morning America’
Fortunately for the Warren family and the Smyrna community, Dr. Tee is perseverant. Raysor said Wells Fargo helped her secure a small business loan to open the business and a line of credit to survive the pandemic.
To help get some foot traffic in the store, Dr. Tee began offering COVID-19 testing in 2020 and vaccines in 2021.
Welcome to HOPE USA
She also coordinated with a local nonprofit to bring vaccines directly to people. “I vaccinate in churches; I’ve done a homeless shelter; I’ve done barbershops and beauty salons, vaccinating Black and brown communities, but also underserved communities.”
Dr. Tee’s success matches findings in a new economic report from Wells Fargo, which indicated that the pandemic hit Black-owned firms hard — nosediving by more than 40% in April 2020. Yet these companies have shown subsequent resilience, with the number of Black-owned businesses roaring back to nearly 30% above prepandemic levels.
Dr. Tee’s commitment to improving others’ health is why Raysor shared her story as part of Wells Fargo’s Hope, USA initiative, a program designed to highlight small businesses making a difference in their communities. She was recognized for her impact in her community on “Good Morning America,” where Mary Mack, CEO of Wells Fargo’s Consumer and Small Business Banking, surprised her with a $10,000 donation to the American Diabetes Association in Dr. Tee’s name. She was also whisked away for a surprise spa day while a team decorated her storefront for the holidays.
“She is selfless, and I really like that we took time to recognize her with the Hope, USA campaign because she thinks about everybody but herself,” Raysor said.
It’s little surprise that Dr. Tee, ever thinking of others, said, “The exciting part about Focus is just being able to help in even the smallest capacity. When you walk through those doors, my goal is that you are feeling a little bit better when you leave.”