Worker shortage impacting local pharmacies

NOW: Worker shortage impacting local pharmacies

ELKHART, Ind --- The nationwide worker shortage amid the pandemic has hit many businesses hard and pharmacies here in Michiana are no exception. The shortages have reduced hours and caused delays at stores many depend on to get their prescriptions filled.

“I have a lot of pharmacist friends and I know every pharmacist is trying to do their best it’s just unfortunate there is not enough hands to do the best,” said Ray Kadi, a Pharmacist at University Commons Pharmacy.

Kadi said they’ve been able to manage amid the worker shortage, but he said some of the larger chains have been hit much harder, with his pharmacy seeing a recent influx of patients transferring their prescriptions over because of delays.

“We transfer two to three profiles daily from other pharmacies and the main reason they tell us is they’ve been waiting for their prescriptions or nobody’s answering their phone calls or when they call with a question nobody gets back with them things like that,” explained Kadi.

According to the National Community Pharmacists Association, 80% of pharmacies nationwide have had trouble filling open positions and 60% don’t have enough employees to run registers, which have caused some pharmacies to push back customer pick-up times or operate under reduced hours.

A factor that could have impacted an Elkhart resident, whose identity we’ve kept private, who took to Facebook to express her frustration when looking to get a prescription filled for her 94-year-old mother at the CVS Pharmacy on Nappanee street.

 “When you have patient that is waiting for long time at another pharmacy because of their shortage and they come here and we want to transfer their medication over here. It sometimes takes us three days and sometimes you call those pharmacies and you’re on hold for an hour without anybody picking up the phone and that’s time consuming on our side,” said Kadi.

Kadi also said labor shortages aren’t the only thing causing problems for pharmacists. The uptick in COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and even the push for flu shots are all factors.

“To give a vaccine whether it’s COVID or flu is more time consuming than to fill an amoxicillin prescription, so there are certain spots in the pharmacy only the pharmacists can do and therefore if the pharmacists is tied up with the COVID, a COVID vaccine can consume up to let’s say 10 minutes of the pharmacists time,” added Kadi.

CVS since released a statement that said in part,

"We continue to meet the demand for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, in addition to providing our patients with trusted pharmacy care and innovative health solutions. Our teams remain flexible in meeting customers’ needs in a dynamic environment...we’ve embarked on a nationwide hiring push so we can continue to serve the health care needs of our communities. As part of the regular course of business, we periodically review operating hours to make sure that we’re open during peak customer demand. From time to time, this may result in a shift in store hours. By increasing or reducing hours, we ensure that our teams are available to serve customers when they’re most needed. In the event that a pharmacy’s adjusted hours are inconvenient, a patient can visit any open CVS Pharmacy location for assistance with their immediate prescription needs…”

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