DENVER — Denver7 Investigates is hearing from some Colorado Walgreens customers who can't get their prescriptions because of short-staffed pharmacies. This comes amid national reports of a Walgreens walkout running Monday through Wednesday this week.
A steady stream of drivers outside a Loveland Walgreens drive-through found out no one was at the window Monday, reading a sign that blamed staffing issues. Inside the store, the pharmacy was shuttered with signs saying a pharmacist would be there at 2 p.m.
"No pharmacists. So my prescription is essentially being held hostage," said Vicki Pesce, who added her doctor sent her prescription there Friday afternoon. "Friday evening, no pharmacist was here. It was closed on Saturday. I came on Sunday, and no pharmacist was there. Here I am now, day four, and I can't get my medications."
We called another Walgreens location in Fort Collins, and the voicemail said the pharmacy was closed for the day there, as well.
Sources said the Colorado stores are not known to be part of the nationally reported Walgreens walkout, but the Colorado Pharmacists Society supports the measures.
"The pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are being asked to do more and more with less staff," said Lisa Nguyen, the CPS president, who added that the issues are not just with Walgreens, but industry wide. CVS strikes made headlines last month.
"At some point, something has to give," said Nguyen, who added overworked staff members could lead to dangerous situations. "And what is it going to be? Is it going to be patient safety? Is it going to be their mental well-being and their physical well-being?"
Walgreens released a statement to Denver7 Investigates:
A small number of our pharmacies are experiencing disruptions and we apologize for any inconvenience. We are working to return these pharmacies to regular operations as quickly as possible. Nearly all of our 9,000 locations continue to serve our patients and customers.
Our pharmacy teams work tirelessly to serve our communities — from administering life-saving vaccines, to helping patients receive prescriptions and health screenings — especially this time of year, during which we see some of the highest rates of respiratory illnesses and seasonal vaccinations.
The last few years have required an unprecedented effort from our team members, and we share their pride in this work — while recognizing it has been a very challenging time.
We also understand the immense pressures felt across the U.S. in retail pharmacy right now.
We are engaged and listening to the concerns raised by some of our team members. We are committed to ensuring that our entire pharmacy team has the support and resources necessary to continue to provide the best care to our patients while taking care of their own wellbeing. We are making significant investments in pharmacist wages and hiring bonuses to attract/retain talent.
Eventually Monday afternoon, Pesce's pharmacy did open, and she received her prescriptions, but the ordeal has opened her eyes to the problem.
"If I were to need this medication, I would end up in the ER. If it were my other medication, my seizure medication, it could be disastrous," she said, adding that she supports the walkouts. "There needs to be a very bright light shined on this to bring attention to the fact that these employees need help."