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Intermountain Healthcare closing most retail pharmacies

Drugs line the shelves of the pharmacy at the Intermountain Healthcare Salt Lake Clinic in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Intermountain Healthcare announced Friday it is closing all but one of its 25 retail pharmacies in Utah.

Drugs line the shelves of the pharmacy at the Intermountain Healthcare Salt Lake Clinic in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Intermountain Healthcare announced Friday it is closing all but one of its 25 retail pharmacies in Utah. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)



SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare announced it is closing all but one of its 26 retail pharmacies and selling its prescriptions and inventory to CVS Pharmacy in August.

"Every effort will be made to ensure patients and employees are well cared for during this transition," Nannette Berensen, vice president and COO of Intermountain Shared Clinical Services, said in a statement released Wednesday. "We've seen changes in consumer preference in obtaining medications in retail pharmacies that offer added convenience and expanded shopping options."

Intermountain Healthcare spokesman Daron Cowley said Friday most of the pharmacies are being closed because they "aren't being used enough by the community to remain open." The closures will affect about 250 employees "and the plan is to transition them to other jobs – this is not a layoff situation," he said in an email to KSL.com.

Inpatient pharmacies will not be affected, according to the statement, and the hospital system will still offer medication management services, medication assistance and financial support services, as well as home delivery and specialty pharmacies.

The retail pharmacy at Primary Children's Hospital will also remain open.

The pharmacies that are being closed currently fill 1.2 million prescriptions, Cowley said.

The transfer of those prescriptions to CVS Pharmacy "is only for convenience and continuity of care – people can choose to transfer their prescription to their preferred pharmacy and get it filled there," he said.

"CVS Pharmacy is working closely with Intermountain to ensure the transition is seamless for patients and that their access to pharmacy care is not interrupted. Pharmacy files of each location will be securely and confidentially transferred to conveniently located retail pharmacy locations," hospital officials said in a statement, promising that CVS Pharmacy will work with new patients "to ensure that they can continue to access their medications easily and without disruption."

Patients will receive a letter informing them of the pharmacy closures and the process for their prescription transfers.

Hospital leaders said the system plans to work with impacted employees to find opportunities "that aligns with their needs and preferences" within Intermountain, and they will have the option to transfer in the company. They will also be considered for positions at local CVS Pharmacy locations, according to the statement.

Intermountain Healthcare currently employs 41,700, making it Utah's largest employer.

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