CVS pharmacists return to work

CVS pharmacists protesting challenging working conditions in Kansas City returned to work Sept. 28 after CVS leaders vowed to make numerous improvements, USA Today reported. 

CVS has agreed to provide additional staffing and paid overtime as a short-term solution to pharmacists' increasingly heavy workloads in the Kansas City market. The company is also pausing some stores' online vaccination appointment schedulers and allowing pharmacists to manually cancel vaccination appointments without repercussions, according to two pharmacists who joined a Sept. 27 call with CVS leaders. 

The changes come after nearly two dozen pharmacists called out of work Sept. 21, bringing attention to heavy workloads they claim are putting patients and pharmacists at risk. Pharmacists said the protest forced 22 stores to temporarily close, though CVS told Becker's only 10 locations were affected. An unknown number of pharmacists called out of work again Sept. 27 after a failed negotiation attempt with CVS executives who flew to Kansas City to meet with organizers, according to USA Today.

Now, pharmacists have expressed cautious optimism at CVS' response to their concerns. 

"As far as the concrete measures they promised, all that is short-term," Corey Schneider, PharmD, a CVS pharmacist in Kansas City, told USA Today. "They have given us more general promises that they'll do better on hiring and training people — that's where we need to see more details. I don't think they've had a chance to figure out exactly what that looks like, but I'm personally willing to give them a chance to show us."

Mike DeAngelis, executive director of corporate communications for CVS, said industrywide pharmacist shortages have made it difficult to staff the retail chain's more than 9,000 stores and that demand for vaccinations is further straining pharmacies this fall. 

CVS is "committed to addressing concerns that have been raised by our pharmacists" and is "developing a sustainable, scalable action plan that can be put in place in any market where support may be needed," he told USA Today.

Editor's note: Becker's has reached out to CVS for comment and will update the article as more information becomes available.

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