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Employees express concerns about Kern Medical closing two outpatient pharmacies

Kern Medical
Posted at 5:02 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 21:03:55-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kern Medical’s two outpatient pharmacies, Medical Campus Pharmacy, and Sagebrush Medical Plaza are set to close their doors this December.

But employees are fighting to keep them open and said their services are unique to the population they serve.

Around 13,000 Kern County residents rely on the services at these pharmacies. Many of them do not have transportation so not having to find a way to get to the pharmacy after their medical appointments is very helpful.

One group of people bound to be impacted are the homeless who often suffer from mental health issues, also depends on programs the pharmacy is a part of to get their medication for free.

“There is a lot of homes that some of them are in, if they are not homeless, that won’t allow them in without their medications. So, if they are not able to get their medications, they won’t be able to be housed in these places and it has to be given to them or they are homeless and then you have a bigger problem,” said Cheri Ancheta, a pharmacy technician at Kern Medical Outpatient.

She added that chain pharmacies like CVS or Rite Aid are not part of these programs and are not looking to serve these communities, which is why is it so important for these county pharmacies to continue to be funded.

Nurse practitioner, Gabriel Garcia, said it is already a source of concern for patients.

“I am starting to refill medications for them long-term and unfortunately, they are telling me that they don’t know what other pharmacy they are going to pick, so it is becoming a conversation I am having on a daily basis,” said Garcia.

Kern medical said through a statement that they are closing because the state’s reimbursements program for Medi-Cal Pharmacy prescriptions is changing and will put the pharmacies at an operating loss.

They also said there are about 15 jobs that will be lost but mentioned some of those employees will be transferred.

However, Ancheta said they have heard differently.

“They said that we can look at the posted positions and we may apply and interview and if we get the job then we get the job. There is no say of transferring these employees, absorbing them in the hospital,” said Ancheta.

The union employees said pharmacies in other parts of the state in the same positions have received funding from their county to stay open and hope Kern County will step in and do the same.

Meanwhile, Kern Medical will have a public meeting regarding this issue.

The meeting will be, Wednesday, November 17 at 11:30 a.m. in Room 1058 located at Kern Medical Center, the Kern County Hospital Authority Board of Governors will hold a hearing on the proposed closure of the Kern Medical Center Campus Pharmacy located, and the Sagebrush Medical Plaza Pharmacy. The expected date of these closures is no later than December 31.