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Carle Foundation Hospital welcomes the return of CarleRx, and with it, a collection of ducks

Carle Foundation Hospital welcomes the return of CarleRx, and with it, a collection of ducks
The return of CarleRx to Carle Foundation Hospital provides a locally owned option for the community that offers added support for our patients and brings more access to the region. And with the return of CarleRx comes the return of a collection of toy rubber ducks.

This collection has its accidental origins thanks to Jeanine Black, a former CarleRx pharmacy technician.
In the 1980’s, a little boy would visit the original CarleRx pharmacy at the hospital to pick up his prescriptions with his mother. “He was very sick, but he always had this plastic duck,” said Black. “I always said hi and would say something about his little duck. His mother told me he never went anywhere without it.”

One day Black came around the counter and saw that his duck was on the floor. “I was heartbroken,” Black said. “I called his mom and left a message about finding the duck. I put it on the pharmacy ledge, so they’d still be able to pick it up if I wasn’t there.”

The duck spent a few days on that ledge, and pharmacy visitors thought it was the beginning of a new collection. Soon, they and Carle Health team members began adding their own ducks to the ledge.

“It started taking off and I had to take the little boy’s duck off the ledge so that it wouldn’t get lost in the collection,” Black said. She recalls that people would stop by the pharmacy even if they didn’t have a prescription to pick up to see and add to the collection.

Ducks came from all over, representing sports teams, travel locations, and more. Some donated ducks they felt represented them. "We were filling about 600 prescriptions a day, so the ducks were a nice distraction from the long lines,” Black said.

The mayor of Urbana at the time and former Carle Health President and CEO Mike Fritz stopped by to donate to the collection. Black recalls that Fritz's golf-themed duck and the duck she brought back from her daughter’s wedding in Kansas, which is still on display today. When they received duplicate ducks, those were set aside to give to children visiting the pharmacy.

“And that’s how it started,” Black said. “It was about a little boy who dropped his duck.”

In 2011, Walgreens took ownership of the pharmacy at Carle Foundation Hospital. The duck collection moved to the pediatrics unit of the hospital in a glass case for protection. By then, there were over 200 ducks in the collection.

In early 2024, pharmacy services were restored at Carle Health bringing CarleRx back to the hospital, following the Carle Champaign on Curtis location change to a CarleRx pharmacy as well. And with it, the duck collection returned to its original home on the pharmacy ledge.

“Having this location back is another way we’re supporting our patients' needs at every step of their healthcare journey,” Linda Fred, Vice President, Pharmacy Services said. “We’re proud to provide CarleRx’s services at Carle Foundation Hospital,” Fred said. “Patients who receive care at the hospital now have an on-site pick-up location and can ask questions about their prescriptions at the time of discharge.”

By the time of the opening, Black had retired from her position as a pharmacy technician, transitioning to a volunteer. She attended the opening and was overjoyed to see the ducks return to CarleRx. She is still able to identify which ducks are originals to the collection and by who donated them.

“The doctors are happy that Carle can better support patients with local pharmacy services again and that the ducks are back,” Black said. “I’ve never been happier to see that they’re back, and the team members who remember them are also so happy they’re back.”

To learn more about CarleRx and pharmacy services, visit

Categories: Culture of Quality

Tags: Carle, CarleRx, Champaign, Ducks, Foundation, Hospital, Pharmacy, Services, Tradition, Urbana, Volunteer