Hi, it’s Dr. Curry-Winchell, aka Dr. BCW. Today, I want to discuss the consequences of pharmacy closures in underserved communities. It’s impossible to ignore the distressing trend in our health care landscape. A rising number of pharmacy closures, especially in underserved communities. I recently delved into this significant issue with Anne-Marie Green on CBS News. It’s clear that the implications of these closures go far beyond mere inconvenience.
For many years, major drugstore chains like Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens have been pillars in numerous neighborhoods, offering a vast range of essential health services. Now, as they begin to close down, the resulting implications are profound and deeply concerning, particularly for communities already struggling with limited health care access and basic services.
The Disproportionate Impact on Communities of Color
During my recent CBS interview, I highlighted that these pharmacy closures aren’t happening uniformly across regions. Disadvantaged communities of color are disproportionately affected. Deprived of access to crucial medications, essential items, and basic health screenings, these communities face a heightened risk of health disparities.
The Growing Phenomenon of “Pharmacy Deserts”
“Pharmacy Deserts” has become a common term for areas without access to a local pharmacy. This problem is eerily reminiscent of the well-known challenge of food deserts, where many communities lack grocery stores that offer healthy foods. In my experience, there’s a clear overlap between these two challenges, especially in communities of color and rural locales. When you combine the absence of healthy food with a lack of essential medications, you end up with a silent yet burgeoning health crisis. Of course that is what these pharmacy closures are doing. They are hurting health care access.
The Broad-ranging Effects on Health Services
Pharmacies offer so much more than merely prescription medications. They provide critical health services like blood pressure monitors, over the counter medicine, and vital check-ins such as COVID tests and vaccinations during the pandemic’s height. As these pharmacy closures continue, we’re watching essential health care touch points vanish, which makes achieving optimal health even more daunting for many.
Throughout my practice, I’ve always regarded the local pharmacy as a vital partner in ensuring patient care. The diminishing presence of these pharmacies, driven by an array of factors, including industry shifts and economic challenges, is directly impacting patient care in ways many might not immediately recognize.
The broader issue here is not just about pharmacy closures or businesses shutting their doors. This crisis affects the health, well-being, and very essence of entire communities. The increasing chasm of health inequities is gravely concerning. Of course tackling this challenge demands combined efforts from all stakeholders.
This topic deserves deeper scrutiny. I hope we can keep these issues at the forefront of conversation and continue to push towards actionable solutions. Of course in hopes that we can resolve these challenges with health care access.
Stay informed and prioritize your health!
– Dr. Curry-Winchell (Dr. BCW)
Check out this video from Dr. Curry-Winchell @ Dr_BCW to learn more about the consequences of pharmacy closures in underserved communities.