KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After receiving a tip that several Walgreens locations closed early due to staffing shortages, KSHB 41 News reached out to the company to confirm this and ask if the shortage is an issue nationwide.
KSHB 41 received a statement that didn't directly answer the questions. A spokesperson said in part:
"Walgreens continuously reviews staffing levels, as we have throughout the pandemic. In communities where staffing shortages have impacted our stores, we have adjusted continuity plans with the goal of creating minimal disruption to our customers and patients."
The statement went on to say that in instances such as this, where a local Walgreens temporarily adjusts hours, the store team will direct customers to the nearest Walgreens, and the change is also reflected on the store locator.
Local pharmacist Sarah Oprinovich said many professions are dealing with staffing shortages currently, and pharmacy is no different.
"You know, I think what this is really showing is the vital role of the pharmacy technician in the functioning of a community pharmacy," Oprinovich said.
She said the role of a pharmacy tech has expanded over the last few months with COVID-19 testing, vaccines and other vaccines such as flu shots.
"It just really highlights if you don’t have enough pharmacy technicians, then you cannot keep the pharmacy operating safely, and we have seen, anecdotally, that some stores are reducing hours or even closing for days at a time," Oprinovich said.
She also works as a pharmacy professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and does her best to prepare students for what they'll face in the real world.
"We talk a lot about well-being now, especially we’ve seen a lot of burn out, so we are incorporating that a lot more in the curriculum to recognize and address burn out before it becomes problematic," Oprinovich said.
She said the current pharmacist shortage likely just means longer wait times but not customers not being able to get their medication.
Oprinovich said it can be distressing for pharmacists not to be able to give the level of service they'd like to when they are short on help, which can lead to more burn out.
She said making appointments online when possible will help local pharmacy staff get patients in and out as quickly as possible.