Pharmacy woes continue with long wait times

An expert at OSU explains why some are seeing delays in getting medications.

Posted: Oct 27, 2021 7:00 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- People are experiencing longer wait times than ever for prescriptions at their local pharmacies. 

Places like Walgreens on River Road in Eugene have seen long wait times before.

RELATED: Some customers report long wait times and reduced hours at local pharmacies

Eugene resident Jan Heaton-Norton, who has ovarian cancer, told KEZI she is undergoing chemotherapy, which causes her to feel nauseated, but she's down to her last few pills and she'll start feeling very sick if she doesn't get her medicine soon. 

"And I'm not even supposed to leave the house, but I got so mad I got in my car and drove to the [Walgreens] drive-thru. And I was going to drive through but there were cars lined up around the building and into the side street," said Heaton-Norton.

She said she is in the process of changing pharmacies so she can get her medication on time. 

In a statement, Walgreens said in part: "Walgreens continuously reviews staffing levels, as we have throughout the pandemic. In communities where staffing shortages have impacted our stores, we have adjusted continuity plans with the goal of creating minimal disruption to our customers and patients."

MORE: Walgreens buying all of Bi-Mart's pharmacy locations

The interim dean of the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University, David Bearden, explained why people are seeing such long wait times. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a whole new set of responsibilities. 

"Kind of the scope and scale of the pandemic response and the uptake of pharmacies of providing vaccines really changed how much work the folks in those individual locations need to do," said Bearden. 

He also said at the College of Pharmacy, students are continuously taught new developments in the world of medicine, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing with it new things to learn. 

But what about smaller, more local pharmacies?

Steve Hirons, the owner of Hirons drug stores in Eugene, said he and his staff are doing quite well. He said he is on the lookout for even more pharmacists. 

"We're a little different here from the chains. We really try to know our customers by name when they come in, know what's going on in their lives. I think that they tend to feel loyal to a locally-owned business such as ourselves," said Hirons. 

As far as how to handle these long wait times, Bearden at OSU said being patient is the best way and that pharmacists continue to work hard. 

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