Is chain pharmacies in the middle of a staffing crisis ?

I know a couple of weeks ago the Walgreen store that is closet to the house, apparently all three pharmacist WALKED..   and the Rx dept in this particular store has been open very sporadic hours and I had head about another Walgreen is a small Indiana town about 15 miles are so from me and a city with only a 600 population and Walgreens is the only pharmacy in town… was having similar staffing problems and sporadic Rx dept being open. I am hearing that the two CVS pharmacies in our county seat of abt population of 85,000 … both of their Rx depts are opening sporadically. One is in a Target store and the other is one of their 24 hr stores… and they have had a sign out front “WE NEVER CLOSE”.

The independent pharmacy that we use… I am normally in/out in < 5 minutes … unless I stop to talk..  Generally, by the time that I get to the checkout register at the pharmacy either the tech or the pharmacist has pulled our waiting meds from the Rx waiting wreck… they have our charge card on file and generally, I just have to sign for the meds and I am on my way…   Here is a link to find a PATIENT FRIENDLY INDEPENDENT BY ZIP CODE  https://ncpa.org/pharmacy-locator

It would seem that Pharmacists have finally gotten fed up with how they are being more and more mistreated.  Maybe the final straw may have something to do with the upcoming – and now approved – COVID-19 booster shot, just as flu shot season approaches.  I have seen Walgreens offering first $25,000 sign on bonus for a 3 yr contract and then I saw the sign bonus was raised to $50,000… but these pharmacists are being offered $15/hr less than I was being paid the last year that I worked – 2013… and I had not had a raise in about 5-6 yrs. A $25,000 sign on bonus for 3 yrs is about $4/hr over 3 yrs…  From what I have heard from chain pharmacists… they are protecting their own mental and physical health and in turn – to a certain degree – protecting those of the pts that patronize these stores. Under the work environment that these pharmacists and their technicians are expected to preform very exacting tasks… and I am sure that there are many more near misses – medication errors – that we never heard about… but…  how many med errors have been “settled” with a non disclosure agreement and a CHECK…  Apparently the cost for the pharmacy chains to settled and “bury” all of these med errors with a check and the pt signing a non disclosure agreement… is less than the profit that the chain can generate by under staffing and overworking their staff in the Rx dept.  Do yourself a favor, find a pharmacy that your good health is more important to them than their bottom line profits.

Goshen pharmacy customers have long waits for drive-thru only service

https://www.goshennews.com/across_indiana/goshen-pharmacy-customers-have-long-waits-for-drive-thru-only-service/article_e3869e26-22ed-11ec-9409-b7bf9ed78fcd.html

GOSHEN — A shortage of pharmacy workers caused frustration this week when CVS reopened its pharmacy services as drive-thru only and long lines of vehicles quickly formed.

After being closed for four days earlier this week, the pharmacy at the CVS store at Main and Madison streets, reopened with drive-thru only service Thursday, according to customers who were waiting in a long line Friday morning.

Mark Thompson of Goshen had a story of frustration to tell.

Keeping his sense of humor and a smile on his face, Thompson recounted how he waited in line for an hour Thursday and when he reached the service window he was told his prescription, which he said was supposed to be filled Monday, was not ready yet. Thompson said he was told the medication would be ready in about an hour.

He then returned to the store about 4:30 p.m. and waited in line again.

“I got all the way up there and was about two cars away and they closed, they close at 6,” he said. “So, I am back again.”

Friday morning Thompson said he had been in line for an hour and was about half way to the window. During that time the line of vehicles varied from 20 to close to 30. The long line stretched back from the drive-up window, north around the parking lot and then out onto Madison Street and back to the traffic signal at Main Street.

Thompson has been a loyal customer at the CVS pharmacy for about 20 years and said he has never had a problem of having to wait so long to fill a prescription.

He laughed when he said he was enjoying his day off from work “learning patience.”

Thompson had already called his doctor Thursday and asked that his monthly refill of his prescription be sent to another local pharmacy.

“Looking forward, I probably won’t come here again, to be honest,” he said.

Customer Sue Wilfong, who used to work at another local chain-owned pharmacy, said she was not angry and that her former company is also experiencing a shortage of pharmacy workers.

She said there is a worker shortage, but the pharmacy staffs are also tasked with more duties during the pandemic.

“I feel for them, I really do,” Wilfong said of pharmacy workers. “They are also bombarded with having to do the testing, the vaccines and both the COVID as well as the flu shots now. It is just stretching their people too much.”

Wilfong normally has her prescriptions mailed to her, but she needed some expensive medicine and had a coupon for it, so she needed to visit the store in person.

Having waited for 40 minutes already and being still toward the end of the line, Wilfong said she had an incentive to stick with the slow creep toward the service window.

“So, I am going to wait for that coupon,” she said with a big laugh.

COMPANY RESPONDS

Asked about the situation in Goshen, a CVS spokesperson sent an email from the company that stated: “Throughout the pandemic, our employees have continued to serve as a critical resource for health care services, prescriptions, vaccinations, COVID-19 testing and other products and supplies in communities like Goshen, at a time when they’re needed most. As our employees continue to be there for our customers, we’re adding to our talent pool to provide them with even greater support and welcome interested candidates to apply.”

The company also said Goshen customers have another option to fill prescriptions at a local CVS store.

“We encourage area customers to also utilize the nearby CVS Pharmacy within the Target store located at 3938 Midway Road for an additional access to service, and where prescriptions are also seamlessly available,” the company stated.

In a Sept. 20 nationwide news release, CVS Health announced it would be recruiting qualified candidates to fill 25,000 clinical and retail jobs. The company planned to hold a national jobs event Sept. 24.

“These new and existing positions will help the company continue to respond to the needs of communities across the country during the fall and winter months when the incidence of flu is expected to increase and as COVID-19 vaccination and testing remain in high demand,” the company said in the Sept. 20 statement.

The openings mostly are for full-time, part-time and temporary licensed pharmacists, trained pharmacy technicians and nurses, the company explained.

Retail workers are also needed.

The company is administering COVID-19 booster shots, COVID-19 vaccinations, COVID-19 tests, as well as seasonal flu shots, according to the release.

“Every flu season we need additional team members,” said Neela Montgomery, executive vice president, CVS Health and president, CVS Pharmacy, “but this year we’re looking for even more. With the continued presence of COVID-19 in our communities, we’re estimating a much greater need for pharmacists, trained pharmacy technicians, nurses and retail store associates.”

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