Residents and community leaders are mobilizing in Albany to save a downtown pharmacy from imminent closure.
Neighbors are rallying this evening at the Rite Aid store located at 310 South Pearl Street, which Common Councilwoman Dorcey Applyrs says serves the residents of Albany’s South End, a community of mostly low-income residents, including many seniors and people of color. "Those who made the decision to do this did not think about the community and the people who would be impacted by their decision."
Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso says the company recently purchased more than 1900 Rite-Aid stores. " I can confirm the Walgreens-owned Rite-Aid store in Albany on Pearl Street will be closing. The pharmacy's last day of business will be September 19th and the store will remain open for about two additional weeks to allow for a final sale. It's important to note that when the pharmacy closes, prescription files are gonna be available at the Walgreen's that's located about a mile away in Albany at 41 Holland Avenue.
State Assemblyman John McDonald, a pharmacist who runs a pharmacy in Cohoes, argues that's a very hard mile. "I think corporate is looking at this as concentric circles saying 'gee, a mile difference between pharmacies. I'm sure these individuals could go there.' But the reality is, they can't. It's a mile, but it's a mile up a very long hill, which many people don't have public transportation. They're gonna rely on public transportation. It's more than a major inconvenience. It's going to be a barrier."
Applyrs agrees. "The thought of having to take a bus and travel to get medication or in some cases, Pampers in the middle of night or a can of milk, this has left a lot of people devastated, and I really mean that."
McDonald, who represents the 108th district, says there has been talk of having someone come in and take over all or part of the business. Fellow Democrat Applyrs hopes the rally will raise awareness and prompt action. "We'll be sending a letter to Walgreens' leadership to request that this location stay open. To date, I have not spoken with anyone directly but I have been in communication with the mayor about her talks with the representative from Walgreens."
McDonald adds there is a pharmacy run by the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences about three blocks away, but it doesn't offer any of the non-pharmaceutical retail services like non-prescription drugs, cell-phone products and other amenities Rite-Aid does.