MILWAUKEE — A large pharmacy has been closed in recent days, both in Shorewood and Racine. The problem is a shortage of pharmacists.
Pharmacist Kyle Beyer usually has a steady stream of customers at the North Shore Pharmacy on Capitol Drive in Shorewood. But on Friday, August 26, he saw some new faces. They were people who normally go to Walgreens in Shorewood.
“We had several patients who wanted their prescriptions filled but they couldn’t get it because their pharmacy was closed. So we tried our best, called neighboring stores, we were on hold for a while, so it caused a bit of chaos, ‘ said Beyer.
Walgreens told TMJ4 that the Shorewood location was closed from 8 a.m. to noon Friday. It also said its store in Racine and Durand and Lathrop was closed after 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26 and all day Saturday, Aug. 27.
A Walgreens spokesperson said in a statement: “Overall, what we’ve seen in some areas is consistent with what many other healthcare facilities have experienced: staffing challenges due to ongoing labor shortages and continued demand for COVID-related services. As a result, there are some instances where we have had to adjust or shorten pharmacy hours as we work to balance staff and resources in the market to best meet customer demand.”
University of Wisconsin pharmacy professor David Krelig says pharmacist burnout is real. Universities have increased their programs to combat staff shortages before the pandemic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics had forecast a four to six percent growth for pharmacists between 2019-2021. But that was pre-COVID.
“The new phenomenon is that Covid has sent an extra shock to the system, making some work environments, and perhaps many work environments, challenging. Staffing issues, customer complaints, additional tasks,” Knelling said.
Kreling says this has caused some people to leave the profession and fewer people to choose to do it. Now, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a two percent drop in pharmacists in this decade. The owner of Hayat pharmacy Hashim Zaibak says he is dealing with the matter.
“We are looking for eight pharmacists today,” Zaibak says.
He says he knows burnout is a big deal and he’s trying to hire more people so everyone can take a break.
“I haven’t had a day off in a few months. Honestly, just working all the time. Weekends forget it. Weekends, if I’m not there, we should close one of the stores,” Zaibak said.
The issue of burnout is one of the reasons Maureen McGuire gave up her retail job for an independent pharmacy. Monday was her first day of work at her new job at Ye Olde Pharmacy in Cedarburg.
“In retail or community pharmacies, most of us work 11 or 12 hour shifts as the sole pharmacist and every two weeks. After doing that for so many years, I’m just tired and tired of it,” McGuire said.
Independent pharmacies like Hayat try to recruit people through word of mouth and job postings. Walgreens says it depends on bonuses, and that amount varies. though sources tell CNN that amount is a whopping $75,000.
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