Retail Pharmacy

Swedish Retail Pharmacies Closing

As a cost cutting measure, as previously reported, Providence/St. Joseph’s Swedish brand is closing all of their retail pharmacies.  Cherry Hill's last day is December 30th, First Hill and the Swedish Orthopedic Institute locations will close on January 3rd.  At the Squire Park Board Meeting the first week of this month Swedish reported that they remain hopeful that a retail partner will choose to open on the First Hill campus but no agreements have been reached.  There is no such hope for a deal covering the Cherry Hill campus.
Employees at Swedish have stated that customers will be able to fill and refill prescriptions at any Walgreens location but how and when this transfer will occur is not clear.  Despite promises by Swedish to both notify customers by mail and posted signage at the pharmacies, as of this writing, they have failed to do so.  We are hearing that this delay in notifications may be to facilitate selling of customer’s information/accounts to Wallgreens.
Concerns over what this means for continuity of care, charity care and discharge prescriptions for specialty drugs also remain unaddressed.  Swedish has stated that Walgreens will honor the current Swedish pricing but pharmacy workers have stated that is only for insured customer’s co-pays and not for self-pay customers.
Retail pharmacies at other Providence/St. Joseph’s locations will remain open.
Update: Failure to Directly Notify those Impacted. (1/2/2017)
The only customer notifications that Swedish as made are signs posted at the pharmacies in late December and a single notice posted in the public notice section of the Seattle Times.  A spokesperson for Swedish committed to letters being mailed the first week of December, but that same spokesperson confirmed last week those had not been sent.  At this point their is little expectation that Swedish will make any additional efforts. 
Early in this process it became clear that Swedish was looking at this has a source of revenue.  They made the conscious decision to take what their customers and patients considered personal and private medical information and turn it into a marketable asset to be sold and turned into cash.
Update: Trust and Privacy Breaches (1/4/2017) 
Post closing, we have been hearing about issues with customer profiles being incomplete or worse corrupted and in at least one case merged.
In one case, a customer with a chronic disease requiring a dozen prescription drugs, only had four of them in his Walgreens profile.  After the issue was escalated to Swedish and reported “fixed” by them; The profile only contained two drugs!  That same customer made a single call into a Capitol Hill Walgreens for refills.  After receiving notification from Walgreens that they were ready for pickup, they went to the store only to be told there was nothing to be picked up.  Further research showed that one drug was at a Ballard location and the other was at the 23rd & Jackson store, again this from a single refill request!
Another customer, again with a chronic condition requiring careful management, only had two of their 8 prescriptions transferred.  This customer also found that their profile had been merged with another Swedish patient, they were able to view personal information about the other patient.  They contacted the other patient who was understandably upset that they had not been informed their information had been sold and even more so that their information being exposed and their privacy breached.
Perhaps most disappointingly of all is Swedish denied any responsibility for the above issues.  Instead placing 100% of the blame on Walgreens and their employees saying that they did not know how to use their computers to look up profiles and prescriptions.
Are we do assume these are yet another example of Swedish’s “Extraordinary Care.  Extraordinary Caring.” in action?  It is understandable that Providence/St. Joseph’s and Swedish have to mange their business and even make unpopular decisions from time to time but there is no excuse for a failure to do so in a respectful and responsible manner.  Their failure to inform and communicate with the community and those impacted is unacceptable.  We expect better.


Swedish Cherry Hill Retail Pharmacy Expected to Close by End of the Year

Extraordinary Care, Extraordinary Caring

Sadly, Providence’s Swedish brand is closing all of their retail pharmacies, including the pharmacy at Cherry Hill.  Both Providence and Swedish are being very tight lipped on this change.  Nothing has been posted on their website or at the locations.  They continue to accept new prescriptions and customers have not been notified.  We know that employees have been given notice that their jobs will end in November; so unless this timeline changes, customers will likely be caught off guard when they try to refill their prescriptions.  The next nearest non-specialty pharmacy is three-quarters of a mile away, causing a hardship for some of our neighbors.

During the Major Institution Mater Plan (MIMP) process Swedish repeatedly talked about community benefits, including adding additional retail to the campus so this comes as a surprise.  There are rumors of financial concerns driving this and other decisions and employees are reporting a lot of operational changes.  Hopefully, we are not seeing the results of unmanaged growth.

One possibility is that the current Swedish/Walgreens alliance could result in a Walgreens presence on Swedish campuses, but that is just speculation.  This would be a cause for concern, as Walgreens, unlike the current pharmacies, do not accept Medicaid or offer any charity care!  Additionally, it has been reported that the selection of drugs could be more limited, forcing some customers to seek out specialty pharmacies.  A Swedish spokesperson was at the last Squire Park board meeting on September 6th when this information was shared but made no statement.  Neither Providence nor Swedish has followed up on our concerns; should that change we will, of course, share the information at our October 8th meeting and post it to our website.  We wonder about, "Extraordinary Care.  Extraordinary Caring." in light of these changes.

UPDATE - 10/7: Providence and Swedish continue to be tight-lipped and have yet to make an official statement to SPCC, or apparently anyone else for that matter.  While they have failed to notify pharmacy customers, unofficially we understand the pharmacy will cease operations on November 17th.  Begging the question, with a little over 30 days to go, when are you going to provide some level of mitigation to those of us that have put our lives in your hands?  Or, at the very least tell us!  We need to make other arrangements!  Do we have to find the door locked when we come in for refills of the drugs you have told us are medically necessary?

UPDATE 10/27: It looks like the pressure may be having some effect as the closing date has now be moved to "sometime in December".  We have also learned that the reason customer and patients are not being notified is because Swedish plans to sell or otherwise provide customer data to Wallgreens.  Apparently this is not a violation of HIPPA!  It is good news to know that we may have some sort of pharmacy, the bad news remains that there will not be Medicaid or other reduced cost options that now exist.  I would point out that Wallgreens vision is to "To be America's most loved pharmacy-led health, wellbeing and beauty retailer.",  Swedish's mission is stated as ""Improve the health and well-being of each person we serve."  This move is a take away from the community and just last year under their major institution master plan, they offered additional retail as part of their community benefit promises.  Now that they have what they wanted they don't seem so concerned with what the promised.

Tony Armada
Swedish Health Services
747 Broadway
Seattle, WA 98122



Contact Us

Stay Informed