A lot of Floyd County residents found themselves without access to needed prescription medications because the pharmacy at CVS on Main Street in the town is closed for a third straight day, citing a failure to have a licensed pharmacist on the premises.
To make matters worse, those who need to save money with lower prices at the Dollar General store a few blocks north are closed as well. Unanticipated closures during normal business hours have become the norm at both stores.
An increasing number of county residents have shifted to The Pharm House, which stays open during its posted hours and provides needed prescriptions, often at better prices while honoring insurance discount cards.
Others tell us that they are now driving to Christiansburg at least once a week to obtain prescriptions at Walmart at better prices. The store is open, as is a CVS location and the pharmacy at Kroger.
“CVS is a pathetic, pitiful operation that leaves people in danger when they can’t provide needed prescriptions on time,” says one resident, who asked not to be identified. Calls to CVS’s headquarters for comment were not returned. Emails, too, were not answered.
The problem is not limited to pharmacists. Pharmacy technicians are quitting at CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and other locations around the nation, citing increased stress and an inability to keep up with an increasing backlog of prescriptions.
“It got to the point that it was just such an unsafe working environment, where you are being pulled a thousand different directions at any given time,” said technician Heidi Strehl, who worked for Rite-Aid in Pittsburgh for 16 years before quitting in disgust. “You’re far more likely to make a mistake and far less likely to catch it.”
Strehl told NBC News that low wages, few raises, and rude customers were just too much.
“I always thought I would retire from that place,” Strehl said. “But all of the parts of my job that I truly enjoyed over the years had slowly just gone away.”
She’s not alone. The more than 400,000 pharmacy technicians in America work in jobs with little training, even though they are working with serious medications where mistakes can threaten and cost lives Most are paid very little, get few if any raises and have meager benefits.
In Floyd, Dollar General is often closed early or sometimes even all day because of employee shortages, COVID-19, and other problems. Those trying to shop at Dollar General on North Main Street just outside the town limits found a hand-written sign on doors that were locked tight.
The retail chain is facing worker revolts throughout the country. One of Dollar General’s managers in Florida posted a series of Tik Toc videos
Employee hours were severely limited by the company, she said, leading to her or another employee often working alone in the store. Shipments arrived unexpectedly, and with no staff to unpack them, she was forced by company policy to leave boxes stacked up in the aisles, blocking the store shelves and leading to customer complaints.
Sound familiar? The aisles are often blocked in the Floyd Dollar General while some shelves are empty. A call to the company was not returned. Neither was an email request for comment.
Need a prescription or a loaf of bread? Best to call and see if the stores or pharmacy or other retail operation is open.
If so, play it safe. Wear a mask.