Some Triangle pharmacies slashing hours during labor shortage

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some pharmacies across the Triangle are seeing long lines and swallowing the tough pill of dealing with a labor shortage. Even big retailers, such as Walgreens, are slashing pharmacy hours.

The pharmacy inside the Walgreens location on New Bern Avenue, across from WakeMed, is now closed on the weekends and hours have scaled back on weekdays.

Some patients told ABC11 that appointments were canceled for COVID-19 booster shots that were scheduled for the weekend. Folks were able to come in during the week for the vaccine.

Raleigh resident Samuel Fells recently ran into a jam at another retailer.

"They were literally closed and I said 'What the heck?' It was on a Friday and they said 'No employees,'" Fells said.

A survey from a national pharmacy association shows 80 percent of independent pharmacies are having a difficult time filling open positions and 90 percent say they can't find technicians.

Person Street Pharmacy is locally owned and pharmacist Maresa Roney said that because of the staffing problems, the pharmacy can only handle COVID-19 vaccines one day a week.

"It's really, really, really, really, really, high stress (working during this time). Even though I do feel like we're making an impact in the world right now, it's very stressful working in a retail pharmacy right now," said Roney.

Walgreens responding to the changes at its stores.

The company said in a statement during a disruption of service, "our store team will direct customers, as appropriate, to the nearest Walgreens for their prescription needs, care and support."

Walgreens noted that in an attempt to beef up staff, it's offering a signing bonus of $1,250 to new part or full-time pharmacy technicians.

Pay is being bumped up to $15 an hour.

Raleigh resident Samiydah Kearney said she feels the raise in pay is not enough.

"It's not even enough for a college student," she said. "Let's talk the cost of living. A one-bedroom apartment is $1,200. (We're) not talking lights, water, gas, food, groceries, inflation."
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