By Guy Page
State regulators want the Vermont Pharmacy Board to discipline Walgreens Pharmacy for its alleged staffing-related poor performance during the pandemic, according to a complaint filed June 15.
The board should revoke, suspend, reprimand, condition or otherwise discipline” Walgreens, the complaint filed by state prosecuting attorney Jennifer Conlin said.
During the pandemic, staffing shortages at many Vermont Walgreens pharmacies caused many unscheduled closures, patient safety problems, an inability to deliver scheduled Covid-19 vaccinations, and at times chaotic and unsanitary conditions, the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) of the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office alleges in a recently filed complaint.
OPR oversees most licensed occupations and licensees – including pharmacists.
- Walgreens operated multiple retail pharmacies without the required Pharmacist-Manager, contrary to Vermont law.
- Instate retail pharmacies experienced significant staffing shortages resulting in unanticipated store closures and disorganized and dirty pharmacies.
- A substantial cause of reported patient safety issues at Vermont Walgreens locations was insufficient staffing for the pharmacy workload, which includes filling prescriptions, verifications, patient consultations, administering vaccinations, and conducting Covid tests.
- An online vaccine scheduler which enabling patients to schedule vaccine appointments scheduled appointments “without regard for or consideration of available staffing.”
- Lack of adequate pharmacy staff resulted in over three hundred and twenty-five days in which unexpected and unscheduled retail pharmacy closures occurred throughout the State between July 2020 and April 2022, leaving thousands of patients without access to prescription medications.
- In mid-July of 2020, staffing shortages were especially widespread and acute, causing unscheduled pharmacy closures in Bennington, Brandon, Hardwick, Lyndonivlle, West Rutland, Morrisville, and Burlington.
- On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, when a re-assigned pharmacist arrived to work for three days at the Brattleboro store, the pharmacy was in a state of significant disorganization, with prescription vials and pills on the floor, two unlabeled vials on shelves with a variety of pills in them, cluttered counter space and generally unclean conditions.
Walgreens has 32 pharmacies in Vermont. The problems occurred as Walgreens sales and cash flow were strong nationally, the complaint alleges.
Categories: Health Care