CVS Pharmacy Staff Stage Walkout Demanding Change in Unsafe Working Conditions

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Long lines at the CVS pharmacy counters are nothing new. The staff is always busy helping many customers with questions and getting medications filled correctly. Especially during Covid when more people were getting sick. The risk to patients’ safety is at risk if the staff feels rushed due to lack of support in their jobs.

Over the past few days, a lot of pharmacies in and around the Kansas City metro area have been temporarily closed. The pharmacists are protesting by leaving their jobs because they believe they are not receiving enough staff support. Patient safety is at risk when staff support is insufficient. The workplace at CVS has allegedly turned into “a dangerous environment,” and the company’s clients deserve better, according to one employee.

A number of Target sites, including those on Ward Parkway, Stadium Parkway, and Chipman Road in Kansas City, have closed their CVS pharmacies.

Pharmacists across 22 CVS pharmacy branches situated in eastern Kansas and western Missouri have taken action by calling in sick on both Thursday and Friday. Their collective decision to protest is in response to recent corporate choices they believe endanger both the staff and patients. The majority of these walkouts had a direct impact on CVS outlets located within Target retail stores.

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The pharmacists who initiated this walkout are expressing their concerns about CVS’s recent decisions to reduce technician and pharmacy hours. They argue that these decisions are negatively affecting their capacity to adequately fill and verify prescriptions, potentially placing patients in jeopardy.

One employee cited an example, revealing that the CVS location where they were employed remained operational for 64 hours each week, but they were only permitted assistance from a technician for a mere 20 of those hours.

Another pharmacist, speaking to USA Today, disclosed their inability to handle the mounting backlog of prescriptions and the long queue of individuals awaiting prescriptions and vaccines due to the staffing and hour cuts.

This walkout in the Kansas City region occurs against the backdrop of a prolonged history of complaints by retail pharmacists regarding staffing levels and the mounting pressure to meet performance targets.

“We have communicated to corporate, and there has been zero response,” another CVS pharmacist told USA Today.2 “They have not talked to us yet.”

“The workload is so heavy and the amount of staff they allot us is so low that I’m unable to go to the bathroom during my 10-hour shift,” a pharmacist told USA Today. “I’m expected to fill all these prescriptions by myself and counsel all these patients by myself and do all the vaccines by myself so that I’m unable to go to the bathroom and I’m unable to keep my patients safe.”

The American Pharmacist Association is in support of the walkout and has made a statement. The Pharmacy Workplace and Well-Being Reporting (PWWR) data submitted by pharmacists to date indicate that employers and pharmacists are not engaging in sufficient dialogue. APhA calls upon employers to engage in better communication with pharmacists to find solutions that will accelerate innovations and improvements in the dispensing and care process.

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