Lucky stores set to close all pharmacies, advocates worry about access for some Bay Area patients

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Thursday, August 18, 2022
Lucky stores set to close pharmacies, advocates worry about access
As pharmacies at Lucky supermarkets across the state are set to close, some worry the move may restrict access and equity to many customers.

PETALUMA, Calif. (KGO) -- Picking up prescriptions about is about to get more challenging for thousands of people in the Bay Area. Pharmacies located inside Lucky supermarkets across the state are set to close. Some community advocates worry the move may restrict access and equity to many customers.

"I'm very upset, we get our groceries here," said Melvin Belsarei.

80-year-old Belsarei just found out the pharmacy located inside his Petaluma neighborhood Lucky supermarket will permanently close at the end of the month. He's been coming here for years.

"It's more disgusting than an inconvenience," he added.

"So that's a bummer for me, I'm a senior I got all my boosters for COVID here," said Anecarla Rovetta.

RELATED: CVS to close around 900 stores, nearly 10% of its locations

This Lucky pharmacy and about 38 others across the Bay Area are set for closure. Save Mart which owns the grocery chain and operates more than 200 stores across California and Nevada was acquired by a management firm last spring. Pharmacy operations were bought out by Walgreens and prescriptions will be transferred to the nearest store.

But the closest Walgreens store in Petaluma is actually in Cotati about eight miles up Highway 101.

"Access, access, access," said Annie Nicol.

Nicol is a nurse practitioner who is worried about equity and access for her patients. She works at the Mary Issak Center serving 800 housed and unhoused clients. For them, the Petaluma Lucky Pharmacy is only two blocks away.

"I was a little shocked, I think when there are things like acquisitions, they need to look at who it's going to impact," Nicol said.

Nichol says she's looking for other solutions to help those without transportation get their medication.

"Meeting people where they're at is really important," said Nicol.

Last winter, shoppers in Marin City were upset to learn their neighborhood CVS was closing at the gateway plaza shopping center.

RELATED: 'It's just pitiful': Planned closure of Marin City CVS sparks anger, anxiety among locals

Save Mart says it wants work with patients to make the transition of pharmacy services seamless.

As for employees, a spokesperson said in a statement:

"We value our pharmacy staff and the service they have provided to our patients. Walgreens expressed great interest in hiring and has the intention to hire as many of our pharmacy associates as possible which will enable our patients to continue being served by our associates."

The Petaluma pharmacy will close August 24. All Lucky supermarkets will remain open.

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