After nearly two years of planning and construction, a Meijer pharmacy has opened its doors at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.

The pharmacy is one of the first full-service retail pharmacies to operate on site at a Michigan hospital.

The idea was to merge Spectrum Health’s expertise in health care with Meijer’s expertise in retail, said Ryan Foster, director of pharmacy services for Spectrum Health.

Spectrum closed its hospital pharmacy for good on Saturday in anticipation of the Monday morning opening of the Meijer pharmacy, located on the main floor between Butterworth Hospital and the Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center.

“More than 85 percent of patients leave the hospital needing medications,” said Tina Freese-Decker, president of Spectrum Health Hospital Group. “With this pharmacy, we are providing easy and convenient access.”

But that’s not all.

“This also is about developing a collaborative relationship to improve the health of the communities we serve,” Freese-Decker said. “We believe this partnership will improve outcomes for our patients.”

Among the first customers was Steve Freed of Hart, Michigan, who picked up a trial-size stick of deodorant for his son, a patient at Butterworth Hospital. “This is very nice and convenient. And it looks like they’ve got just about everything,” he said.

Indeed, in addition to filling prescriptions, customers may purchase over-the-counter pain relievers, vitamins, socks, makeup, diapers, nicotine gum, Meijer gift cards, shampoo, lotions  and other items typically found in a neighborhood drug store.

Pointing out that many Meijer stores and Spectrum Health medical facilities are in close proximity throughout West Michigan, Meijer president Rick Keyes, a former Meijer pharmacist, said the new pharmacy represents a growing partnership between the two organizations.

“And not only will it benefit patients here, but also the community, downtown residents and employees,” Keyes said during a Monday ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by retail chain co-chairman Hank Meijer, Spectrum Health president and CEO Richard Breon and others.

The pharmacy will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. There are five pharmacists on staff, as well as a specially-trained diabetes care pharmacist who can counsel people with diabetes, discuss medication management and offer tips and tools to eat and live healthier.