The Plains loses its pharmacy
THE PLAINS, Ohio — After operating for decades, the Rite Aid location in The Plains closed this summer. The closure has left residents without a local pharmacy and increased the distance between many neighboring communities and the nearest pharmacy option.
“This decision has been sprung on everyone (in) the Plains who used that pharmacy, completely without regard to how this would affect people who can’t easily travel to the next closest pharmacies in Athens or Nelsonville,” said The Plains resident Sam Jones in a Facebook message.
Jones has primarily used the Rite Aid pharmacy in The Plains since 1998.
Rite Aid press office representatives said, “A decision to close a store is one we take very seriously and is based on a variety of factors—not just one—including business strategy, lease and rent considerations, local business conditions and viability, and store performance.
“We review every neighborhood to ensure our customers will have access to health services, be it at Rite Aid or a nearby pharmacy, and we work to seamlessly transfer their prescriptions so there is no disruption of services. We also strive to transfer associates to other Rite Aid locations where possible.”
Press office representatives declined to provide more detailed information about The Plains closure.
Since 1998, the site of the former Rite Aid at 93 N. Plains Road has been owned by a Buffalo, New York-based company with the same address as national property management corporation Benderson Development. Company representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
The nearest pharmacies to the former Rite Aid include the Shrivers Pharmacy location on West Union Street 4.1 miles away and the CVS locations on East State Street and Court Street in Athens, each about five miles away. Existing Rite Aid prescriptions were automatically transferred to CVS, according to the store’s voicemail.
In addition to The Plains, the closure will also impact neighboring communities such as Chauncey and Millfield, which also lack a local pharmacy option.
“Late at night if a kid spiked a fever or needed allergy medicine I could run [to the Rite Aid] instead of Athens,” said The Plains resident Josie Dupler. “I used Rite Aid to get my flu shot every year, it was just convenient.”
For residents without reliable transportation, the increased distance to a pharmacy creates an added barrier to accessing healthcare.
Shrivers offers free prescription delivery. However, delivery is not an option for emergencies and some prescriptions.
In such cases, as The Plains resident Kit Seida said, those options “may as well be on the moon when you don’t drive.”
“No one wants to spend an hour on the bus when they’re sick just to go pick up something like cold and flu meds or an anti-diarrheal,” Seida said.
In addition to concerns regarding convenience and emergency pharmacy access, many residents expressed concern about losing the comfort of a local establishment.
The Plains resident Sue Estes has used the pharmacy for 25 years and will miss the comfort of a local store with familiar faces.
“The pharmacists always made me feel very comfortable when getting immunizations there and they always answered … questions I had regarding immunizations and medications with exceptional knowledge and patience,” Estes said. “It’s so sad that Rite Aid is no longer here.”
For Tammy Conner Hogsett, whose husband worked at Rite Aid in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the store “was not just another store, it was an opportunity creator for myself and my family.”
For others, the store’s disappearance is a troubling sign about the trajectory of their community.
“To lose Rite Aid feels disheartening,” Seida said. “Because all too often, all I hear is how The Plains has gone downhill, or how it isn’t what it used to be, or that it’s slowly ‘getting worse’. And the loss of an essential business, like the pharmacy, feels like proof-positive of those assertions.”
However, Seida added, “I — and plenty of others — are racking our brains to keep those assertions from being truth.”