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51-year-old Pharmacy in Beaver Dam Buffered against Staff Shortages Due to Long-term Employees

Brian Mayes is a pharmacist at Rice's Pharmacy in Beaver Dam, Kentucky.
Rice's Pharmacy
Brian Mayes is a pharmacist at Rice's Pharmacy in Beaver Dam, Kentucky.

Arecent surveyby the National Community Pharmacists Association found that the national shortage of workers across most sectors is impacting pharmacies.However, a pharmacy with more than 50 years in a small Ohio County community is only experiencing a minor impact on staffing because of many long-time employees.

Rice’s Pharmacy in Beaver Dam usually has a staff of 50 storewide and currently has 45.

CEO David Figg said about 30 to 35 employees work directly in the pharmacy, where the demand for services has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think you’re also seeing that we’re sitting in an uptick time of the year, with COVID vaccinations, and now we’re offering the COVID boosters," said Figg. 

Rice’s Pharmacy is busier than usual because it has been administering the J&J COVID vaccine and has just begun offering the J&J booster.

"You’ve got flu season, so you’ve got flu vaccines," said Figg. "All of that’s creating a larger demand.”

Figg said the pharmacy is fortunate to have a team of dedicated employees, many of them long-term, including one woman has been with the 51-year-old business for 45 years and several employees have been there for 20 years.

“It’s a time when we would typically make sure that we have more staff than normal anyway," said Figg. "So I think you see that not just in our business, but you’re going to see that across all pharmacies, and I think that has created a shortage.”

Some large pharmacy chains are facing substantial worker shortages. The Wall Street Journalrecenlty reported that CVS, one of the nation's largest pharmacy chains, is making an effort to hire 25,000 employees for its locations across the U.S.

The survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association done in May found that 80 percent said they are having a difficult time filling vacancies. Nearly 80 percent said they couldn't find enough pharmacy technicians, a critical position.

And 60 percent of respondents said they have staff shortages for front-end positions such as running the cash register and tracking inventory. 

Another challenge revealed in the survey is a shortage of delivery drivers, a service that increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Copyright 2021 WKU Public Radio. To see more, visit WKU Public Radio.

Rhonda Miller began as reporter and host for All Things Considered on WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans.
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