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Community clinic pharmacy to close for lack of patients

Prescriptions transferred to Longs Drugs Main Street

The pharmacy at Malama I Ke Ola Health Center will be closing Wednesday with patients to be transferred to Longs Drugs on Main Street in Wailuku. The community clinic hopes to reopen when conditions improve. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Malama I Ke Ola Health Center, which services the poor and those without health insurance, will be closing its pharmacy Wednesday, the community clinic announced Tuesday.

“With the significant decrease in patient visits, prescription volume and revenues, pharmacy operations were no longer sustainable,” the center said in a news release. Mary Teter, executive administrative assistant for the health center, blamed the declines on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The community clinic added that the closure of the pharmacy, located at 1881 Nani St. in Wailuku, may be temporary. “We remain hopeful that we will all experience a return to normalcy soon, and our pharmacy can reopen its doors to serve our community again,” the news release said.

Existing prescriptions with refills will be transferred to Longs Drugs on Main Street in Wailuku.

The last new or refill prescription pickup at the Malama pharmacy will be Wednesday. Letters and texts are being sent to clinic patients who have outstanding refills at the pharmacy, notifying them of the transfer of their prescription to Longs Drugs on Main Street after Wednesday, said Teter.

Patients can contact Longs if they want to pick up their prescription at a different Longs location, which can be done on the same day, or to request a transfer to another pharmacy — which will require one to two weeks to complete because the pharmacy only has one pharmacist and one tech on-site, Teter said.

For new prescriptions, patients are asked to contact their Malama I Ke Ola Health Center provider to coordinate filling the prescription at a new pharmacy of their choice, she said.

If patients have problems with their prescription transfer after Wednesday, they can still reach the community clinic pharmacy at 872-4078 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. until Sept. 30, she said.

Longs Drugs on Main Street can be reached at 244-9099.

The pharmacy currently is serving around 1,800 patients, Teter said. The health center serves around 12,500 patients annually and most are uninsured, unemployed or on a managed Medicaid plan.

“We cared for many patients who qualified for a sliding fee discount,” she said. The clinic is “working on expanding existing arrangements in place with Walgreens and Longs/CVS to increase” discount offerings.

For patients who are in an insurance plan, the copays will most likely not change, Teter added.

The Wednesday public closing gives the pharmacy about a week to handle prescription transfer requests, for inventory documentation and to complete regulatory paperwork for the different government bodies involved with pharmacy regulations and contract obligations, before officially closing, said Teter.

While the pharmacy is closing, Malama I Ke Ola Health Center and its satellite clinics remain open, she said.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

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