USA TODAY – Less than a week after a walkout disrupted the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain – and after a flurry of memos, meetings and a written apology from a company president – CVS pharmacists plan another walkout today over working conditions they say imperil patient safety.
After shuttering as many as 22 stores in the Kansas City area last week, organizers had planned a repeat this week and asked other pharmacists across the nation to join them.
CVS executives scrambled to Kansas City over the weekend in an attempt to avert that scenario. They met with pharmacists and pharmacy staff at several metro area locations. Those talks culminated in a meeting with walkout organizers late Tuesday, both sides confirmed to USA TODAY.
Hours later, Prem Shah, CVS’ chief pharmacy officer and president of pharmacy and consumer wellness, issued a memo to Kansas City staff apologizing for failing to address their concerns sooner and promising a series of measures to alleviate their concerns.
“I want to apologize to our pharmacy teams that we haven’t addressed these concerns in the region more quickly,” Shah said, according to a copy of the memo obtained by USA TODAY.
“With the currently unprecedented demand for vaccinations from our patients in mind, we are taking a series of actions effective immediately,” Shah continued.
Those steps included providing “additional resources” to stores, adjusting appointments, filling open positions and removing unnecessary tasks for pharmacists.
The memo, and an earlier one distributed to staffers, did not identify some of the specific requests made by the Kansas City pharmacists, who had asked for limits on the number of vaccines and scheduling changes, among other things.
It’s unclear how many CVS pharmacies will be affected by today’s anticipated walkout, either in Kansas City or elsewhere. The chain operates more than 9,000 locations nationwide.
The pharmacists’ walkout, and the corporation’s swift response, have brought fresh attention to years of alarms over pharmacist staffing and safety …