Pharmacies in Lucky Stores supermarkets across California, including in Petaluma, are set to close, raising concerns about the loss of easy access to prescription medications.
Pharmacy services at the Lucky grocery store at 939 Lakeville Highway in eastern Petaluma will be transferred to Walgreens, whose nearest location is in Cotati. The supermarket will remain open to customers, Modesto-based parent company Save Mart Supermarkets confirms.
The Petaluma Pharmacy will close for good on August 24 at 5pm.
“Our employees at Save Mart and Lucky Pharmacy will work closely with their patients to make this transition of services as easy and seamless as possible,” Save Mart spokesperson Victoria Castro said in an email on Thursday.
The closure comes after Save Mart, which operates nearly 100 pharmacies and more than 200 stores in California and Nevada, was acquired in March by Los Angeles-based company Kingswood Capital Management LP, and a recent acquisition of the brand’s pharmacy business by Walgreens. .
Castro did not respond to a follow-up email about the reason for the closure and how much Walgreens paid in the pharmacy buyout.
Annie Nicol, a nurse practitioner and director of homeless services at the Petaluma Health Center, runs a clinic at the Mary Isaak Center shelter that uses the Lucky location as a primary pharmacy — across the street.
With Lucky Pharmacy closing and moving its services to Walgreens, she said, many of the shelter’s residents, as well as seniors, those with mobility limitations and those without access to transportation, will face challenges in getting their medications.
“We’ve been working with that pharmacy and our underserved, homeless population for years and they’re incredible,” Nicol said. “To get a notification that they are closing on August 24 gives (it) very little time to think about alternatives to this.”
Nicol and her colleagues are looking into partnering with a local recipe delivery service, but there aren’t many options right now that would provide regular service to the Petaluma area.
“This is yet another blow to vulnerable populations and neighborhoods,” Nicol said. “It just creates a bigger gap for people who don’t have access to both food and pharmacy.”
Residents wishing to receive their prescription drugs from another pharmacy should contact Walgreens, Nicol said, which could mean longer wait times to get help.
“If I’ve tried to contact larger pharmacies, I’ll sometimes be on hold for an hour,” she said. “I’ve never had to do that (at Lucky).”
Castro said Walgreens will work to ensure a smooth transition for both patients and employees.
“We value our pharmacy staff and the service they have provided to our patients,” Castro said. “Walgreens has shown great interest in hiring and plans to hire as many of our pharmacy staff as possible so that our patients can continue to be served by our staff.”
One of the qualities that Nicol will miss most about working with Lucky pharmacy is how personal the experience was, not only for her but also for the customers.
“They’ve been very, very user-friendly and went the extra mile: they call us if there’s a problem, help with pre-authorizations, vaccinations,” Nicol said. “That is also very important for people who do not have transport.”
It is unclear if another seller will occupy the pharmacy space in the near future.
The pharmacy in the Lucky supermarket in Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa will close on September 1.
Amelia Parreira is a staff writer for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-5208.