KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some CVS pharmacy services in Kansas City’s Northland were hobbled Wednesday after another round of walkouts from pharmacists.
The action happened as members of CVS Corporate said they’re in town following last week’s walkouts at CVS locations inside Kansas Target stores.
Those pharmacists, hesitant to share their names publicly fearing retaliation, said they’re stretched too thin in their positions, potentially putting patients at risk.
Those same patients were also affected Wednesday, telling FOX4 they mainly want a smooth experience when filling prescriptions.
Customers were told to use the drive-thru at multiple Northland locations with skeleton crews of special fill-in workers, according to pharmacists who walked out.
FOX4 stopped at a few different locations, and it was mainly the same thing with the pharmacy sections caged off.
At the CVS on North Oak Trafficway customers patiently waited in a growing line, unable to get help inside.
“The gates are closed. I did notice that when I was sitting there in the drive-thru,” Nancy York said.
“I’m sure they get overwhelmed. But right now I got to wait two hours because there’s only two of them working,” York said.
“When you call, you can’t get a hold of anybody. But it’s kind of like that with all the pharmacies, I think,” Tammy Wilson, another customer, said.
The conflict leading to the walkout has been drawn out. Some pharmacists say the company has cut hours and staffing, leading to more responsibilities for fewer people.
Pile on growing demand for vaccinations — more than 100 appointments in one day in some cases — and it’s led to this action, multiple pharmacists said.
In an internal memo from CVS, company president Prem Shah — who wrote he’s in Kansas City — apologized to workers and promised to provide extra support.
“We will stay in Kansas City until the market needs are addressed. Following that, I am committed to coming back every month until we have created a sustainable plan of action for this region,” Shah said in the memo.
The conflict continued Wednesday. FOX4 connected with one patient at the CVS on N.E. Barry Road who said he saw the pharmacy shutdown midday.
“I’ve had nothing but problems with CVS,” he said.
“This just proves the fact that it’s going to get to that point where employees, even if they’re not union, they’re just going to get sick with putting up with all that stuff,” he said.
At the CVS location on N.E. Vivion Road, a cab driver said he was doing a favor for an older rider by checking on a prescription.
But finding a locked pharmacy, he’s short on time and big on concern.
“‘Cause he needs his medicine, you know? The doctors told him to pick up the medicine. We went yesterday, and they said it’s not going to be ready until tomorrow,” he said.
“The pharmacy was locked. I tried to go to the drive-thru, but it was, too. A lot of people were over there,” he said.
In the internal memo, the president of CVS made a few commitments to pharmacists, saying CVS will make schedule adjustments and hire more people.
However, the response from current pharmacists has been to continue forward with the Wednesday walkout, so the two groups have not yet found common ground.