BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kern Medical announced they will not be closing two of their pharmacies by the end of the year as had been previously expected.
This is just a temporary delay and doesn't help some patients who have already transferred services.
“I am going to be getting out of 13 prescriptions, the final 2 after two weeks. So, it has taken about two weeks to fill about 8 scrips,” said Melissa Wolfenstein, Sagebrush Pharmacy patient.
As reported earlier this year Kern Medical announced the Sagebrush and Campus pharmacies were set to close because a change in the state’s reimbursement program for medical prescriptions puts them at an operating loss.
This left patients like Wolfenstein to transfer to a chain pharmacy.
“I called Sagebrush first, I did not want to transfer unless I absolutely had to,” said Wolfenstein.
At 63 years old, Wolfenstein has two autoimmune diseases and a slew of health problems for which she is prescribed strong medications like Morphine, Lyrica, and Norco. As a patient with Kern Medical Pharmacy for ten years, she said she never had to wait that long to get her medications.
Cheri Ancheta a pharmacy technician with Kern Medical and shop steward at local union SEIU 521 said they serve 13,000 Kern County residents and a majority are patients like Wolfenstein who have medication not usually carried by chain pharmacies and also don’t have means for transportation.
“If they want to come back to us or continue using our service, most of the people that I have spoken with are quite happy with that and they are going to stick with us for as long as we are open, and hopefully that will be for a while, I am hoping at least,” said Ancheta.
Kern Medical said them not closing on Thursday is just temporary.
Kern Medical issued a statement that said in part:
The state Board of Pharmacy requires all patient pharmacy records be transferred to a licensed pharmacy that provides ongoing services, when a retail pharmacy ceases to do business. The pharmacy Kern Medical had been working with to transfer the records, notified us that due to organizational restructuring, they have discontinued efforts to acquire our patient records. As a result, on December 15, 2021, the Kern County Hospital Authority Board of Governors authorized delaying the closure of the two Kern Medical retail pharmacies until such time as we can ensure all patient pharmacy records are transferred to a licensed outpatient pharmacy. At this time, we do not have an anticipated date of closure. However, we are working closely with a third party to expedite the process of transferring the records, and closure will commence when that process has been completed.
Meanwhile, Ancheta who had been going to the board of supervisor meetings trying to get their help in keeping them open said this helps buy time.
“I am not done; I will continue this fight for the people. Because we do need these services, for the ones that can’t transport or don’t have insurance or don’t have the funds, they are still struggling with us closing,” said Ancheta.