Twelve Kansas City area CVS locations unexpectedly closed last week because the pharmacists in charge staged an organized walkout, “calling in sick to protest recent corporate decisions,” according to reporting from local news outlet The Kansas City Star.
The article reported that one of the pharmacists who spoke to The Star anonymously said the walkout was the “result of steadily declining working conditions,” with most of the affected pharmacies located inside Target stores.
“We’re committed to providing access to consistent, safe, high-quality health care to the patients and communities we serve. On Thursday and Friday of last week, a handful of Kansas City area CVS Pharmacy locations, primarily in Target, were temporarily closed, and we apologize to anyone who was inconvenienced by this,” Amy Thibault, lead director of external communications for CVS Pharmacy, told SN.
However, Thibault also said that all of those locations reopened on Saturday, except those few that do not typically have weekend hours of operation.
“We continually invest in technology and training to make sure our pharmacies are open when our patients most want them to be. We’ve also reached out directly to our pharmacy teams in the Kansas City market so that we may directly address the concerns they’ve raised that led to this brief and limited interruption in service,” said Thibault.
Some of the grievances from the anonymous pharmacist to The Star included:
- CVS has cut the number of working hours per week a pharmacist can have a technician (a pharmacist’s assistant) on hand
- Because the stores inside Target typically perform better than stand-alone “core” stores, the pharmacist said, a regional manager recently mandated that Target pharmacists be reassigned to core CVS locations to improve service there
- Pharmacists are being stretched thinner which could potentially put patients at risk due to possible mistakes
This news comes after at least eight CVS pharmacies in Ohio were accused of understaffing issues resulting in dangerous conditions for patrons in July.
Some of those incidents dated as far back as 2020 and some of the inspections were the result of patient complaints. The reports did not name specific stores, but the locations of the stores given included stores in Toledo, Canton, Dayton, and Massillon, among others.
Then, in August CVS Health’s CEO Karen Lynch revealed that the company would be laying off 5,000 corporate-level workers in the coming weeks, according to an internal memo.
In the memo, Lynch said the decisions were extremely difficult but necessary as CVS evolves to adapt to new consumer health needs and expectations. Despite its first quarter financials being better than expected, CVS had to cut its 2023 forecast following deals finalized with primary care provider Oak Street Health and home health care provider Signify Health.