24-hour pharmacies are returning to Delaware (National Cancer Institute photo from Unsplash)

24-hour pharmacies on way back to Delaware

Ken MammarellaBusiness, Headlines

24-hour pharmacies are returning to Delaware (National Cancer Institute photo from Unsplash)

24-hour pharmacies are returning to Delaware (National Cancer Institute photo from Unsplash)

Pharmacies trying to surmount national staffing shortages and burnout are buying robots to sort meds, using remote pharmacists, offering bonuses as high as $75,000 and changing how pharmacists are evaluated.

They’re also cutting store hours.

That’s why it appears that Delaware no longer has any 24-hour bricks-and-mortar retail pharmacies.

For now.

But there’s hope.

Walgreens, the No. 2 pharmacy chain nationwide, once had four Delaware stores with 24-hour pharmacies, according to Julie Miro Wenger, executive director of the Delaware Association of Chain Drug Stores.

They’re now in the process of resuming around-the-clock service in Bear, Lewes and Seaford, she said.

Efforts were not successful to reach a Walgreens representative or local pharmacists for comment.

24-hour pharmacies in PA

A Walgreens page shows that the closest 24-hour Walgreens pharmacy to Wilmington is now in Brookhaven, Pennsylvania. There are no 24-hour Walgreens within 50 miles of Dover or Georgetown.

Rite Aid has 37 Delaware pharmacies. The earliest any is open is 8 a.m., the latest 10 p.m. (on Marsh Road in North Wilmington and New Castle Avenue in New Castle). There’s a 24-hour Rite Aid pharmacy at 260 W. Lehigh Ave., Philadelphia.

Rite Aid has not had any 24-hour pharmacies since 2014 in Delaware, according to spokeswoman Catherine Carter.

“Overall, we have seen pharmacist and pharmacy technician staffing levels improve across the 17 states we serve,” Carter said, “but like the rest of the industry, we continue to manage through shortages in some areas.”

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CVS, the nation’s largest bricks-and-mortar chain, has 22 drugstores in Delaware. Its store finder finds no 24-hour CVS pharmacies in Delaware.

Ditto for Walmart and Acme, also among the nation’s largest chains, ranked by pharmacy revenue.

At ChristianaCare, “the retail pharmacies have not been open 24 hours, and we do not have plans to expand hours beyond where they currently are,” spokesman Michael Chesney said.

More than three-quarters of community pharmacists are having a tough time filling open positions, a National Community Pharmacists survey reported in August, and one result is longer wait times for patients seeking to fill prescriptions.

Research on 24-hour pharmacies was based upon extensive searching online and queries to groups in Delaware (the Delaware Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Delaware Healthcare Association, the Delaware Pharmacists Society and the Medical Society of Delaware) and big chains (CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens).

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