It’s been almost a month since Walgreens announced their acquisition of all Bi-Mart pharmacy operations.
Sisters Beckie Wilson and Camie Carlson, who live several miles outside Redmond, have been loyal Walgreens customers for years.
“We go four or five times a month,” Wilson said.
They’ve witnessed a change in service over the past few months, even before the merger with Bi-Mart took place.
“There were longer lines, but it just continually got worse,” Carlson said. “Losing pharmacists, losing front desk staff. Their hours then, that was the issue. You never knew what their hours were.”
Throwing Bi-Mart customers into the mix has made wait times even longer.
“It took me a week to get that medication…that worried me so badly. I thought, what if I didn’t have enough?” Carlson said.
Bi-Mart has cited a number of reasons for the merger in recent commercials.
“With reimbursement from insurance providers shrinking, millions of dollars in added fees, combined with the Oregon corporate activity tax on gross receipts, makes it unfeasible to continue to operate our pharmacies moving forward,” one commercial said.
Walgreens Media Relations representative Phil Caruso said signage in Bi-Mart stores will explain the changes at each location.
He also spoke about efforts to recruit new employees to deal with staffing shortages across their 9,000 locations nationwide.
“To support this recruitment effort, we have launched several initiatives, including a sign-on bonus of $1,250.00 for full-or-part-time pharmacy technicians hired now through the end of October,” Caruso said.
“To further invest in our current hourly team members who provide trusted care and services, we’re providing new incentives and have recently announced an increase of the starting hourly wage to $15.00 an hour.
“Our team members know that working at Walgreens is about fulfilling our purpose to make our neighborhoods healthier and therefore happier.”
Caruso said patients can continue using their Bi-Mart pharmacy locations until prescriptions are transferred to Walgreens.
Walgreens will continue operating pharmacies in certain select Bi-Mart locations, but Caruso did not know yet where those locations would be.
The sisters feel they have no option but to stick it out for now.
“I don’t want to leave Walgreens, because I can get my prescriptions filled in any state because I’m a Walgreens customer. But I do believe that the management can do a little bit better job,” Wilson said.
“I know we have problems with getting people to work, perhaps there are so many people that don’t qualify,” she added. “I’m not sure what it is. Figure it out.”
“Walgreens as a corporation should be worried about their customers,” Carlson said. “Why aren’t they concerned about us? That’s what hurts. They provide a service, we rely on them, and there’s no support there.”