Drugstore operator Rite Aid Corp. has opened a smaller format pharmacy in Craigsville, Va., as part of a pilot program to improve access for pharmacy services in “pharmacy deserts” and underserved communities. Philadelphia-based Rite Aid intends to open two more locations in Virginia by early 2023.
At 3,000 square feet, each outlet in the program will be significantly smaller than the average 11,000 to 15,000 square-foot standard Rite Aid location. The stores will feature a full-service pharmacy and a retail assortment of health and wellness products.
“With these new smaller format pharmacy locations, we are bringing critical pharmacy services to underserved communities,” said Andre Persaud, Rite Aid chief retail officer, in a statement. “We look forward to becoming a vital member of this community and learning from this new store model as we explore expansion to additional markets across the U.S.”
In a town of less than 1,000 residents, the Craigsville pharmacy sits in the heart of the community next to the library, post office and town hall. Prior to the opening, residents had to drive to neighboring communities for pharmacy services.
The Rite Aid location will employ a full-time pharmacist and full-time pharmacy technician. Additional part-time pharmacy technicians will float between two other area Rite Aid Pharmacy locations. Craigsville is located about 62 miles west of Charlottesville.
“The opening of this Rite Aid store is valuable for the community, especially for our senior citizens, as they’ll no longer have to travel over 20 minutes to get their medications,” Craigsville Mayor Richard Fox said.
Rite-Aid noted that such locations that provide easy access to consumers will be a major factor in helping persons adhere to their medications. A report from the National Community Pharmacists Association stated that the presence or absence of a personal connection with a pharmacist or pharmacy is a chief predictor of non-adherence, which creates health risks while helping to drive up medical costs.
Rite-Aid added that U.S. counties that lack a pharmacy tend to be home to a higher proportion of populations considered vulnerable, including the elderly, uninsured, unemployed and those with income below the federal poverty level.
“Pharmacists play a critical role in healthcare, providing education and counseling, screening for interactions between medications, encouraging prescription adherence and offering important preventive care like immunizations and health screenings,” Persaud said. “As a modern pharmacy, Rite Aid is committed to improving access and convenience to these important services and fostering relationships between community members and their local pharmacist.”
Rite Aid stated that program plans call for another Rite Aid Pharmacy to open in Greenville, Va., in December. Greenville has a population of approximately1,000 and, along with the Craigsville location, is in Augusta County.
The company added that it anticipates opening a third outlet in Scottsville, Va., early next year. Scottsville, which is about 20 miles south of Charlottesville, has a population of approximately 530.
Rite Aid Corp. employs more than 6,300 pharmacists and operates more than 2,300 retail pharmacy locations across 17 states.