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Pharmacy closure at Lucky supermarket in Petaluma, across California, reflects expanding equity gap

Services for the pharmacy inside the Lucky supermarket at 939 Lakeville Highway in east Petaluma will be transferred to Walgreens, the closest location of which is in Cotati.|

North Bay Lucky stores with pharmacies

939 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma

Montgomery Village, 915 Village Court, Santa Rosa

1312 Trancas St., Napa

2355 California Blvd., Napa

570 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur

777 E. Monte Vista Ave., Vacaville

1979 Peabody Road, Vacaville

Source: Lucky

Pharmacies inside Lucky Stores’ supermarkets across California, including in Petaluma, are set to close, leaving some worried about the loss of easy access to prescription medications.

Services for the pharmacy inside the Lucky supermarket at 939 Lakeville Highway in east Petaluma will be transferred to Walgreens, the closest location of which is in Cotati. The grocery store will remain open for customers, Lucky’s Modesto-based parent company Save Mart Supermarkets confirmed.

The Petaluma pharmacy will close for good at 5 p.m. Aug. 24.

“Our Save Mart and Lucky Pharmacy staff will work closely with their patients to make this transition of services as convenient and seamless as possible,” Save Mart spokesperson Victoria Castro said in an email Thursday.

The closure comes after Save Mart, which operates nearly 100 pharmacies and more than 200 stores across California and Nevada, was acquired in March by the Los Angeles-based firm Kingswood Capital Management LP, and a recent buyout of the brand’s pharmacy operations by Walgreens.

Castro did not respond to a follow-up email about reasoning for the closure and how much Walgreens paid in the pharmacy buyout.

Annie Nicol, a nurse practitioner and director of homeless services with the Petaluma Health Center, runs a clinic at the Mary Isaak Center shelter that uses the Lucky location as its primary pharmacy — being right across the street.

With Lucky pharmacy’s closure and moving its services to Walgreens, she said, many of the shelter’s occupants, as well as seniors, those with mobility constraints and those without access to transportation, will face challenges when getting their medicine.

“We’ve worked with that pharmacy and our underserved, homeless population for years and they have been incredible,” Nicol said. “To get a notification that they’re closing on Aug. 24, (it) gives very little time to think about alternatives for this.”

Nicol and her colleagues are working to see if they can partner with a local prescription delivery service, but there are not currently many options that would provide regular service to the Petaluma area.

“This is just one more slam on vulnerable populations and neighborhoods,” Nicol said. “It’s just creating a greater divide for people who don’t have access to both food and pharmacy.”

Residents who wish to begin receiving their prescription medicines from another pharmacy will have to contact Walgreens, Nicol said, which may mean facing longer wait times for getting help.

“When I’ve tried contacting larger pharmacies, sometimes I’m on (hold) for an hour,” she said. “I’ve never had to do that over (at Lucky).”

Castro said Walgreens will work to ensure a smooth transition for both patients and employees.

“We value our Pharmacy staff and the service they have provided to our patients,” Castro said. “Walgreens expressed great interest in hiring and has the intention to hire as many of our Pharmacy associates as possible, which will enable our patients to continue being served by our associates.”

One of the qualities Nicol said she’ll miss most about working with the Lucky pharmacy is how personal the experience was, not only for her but also for customers.

“They’ve been very, very user-friendly, and going the extra mile — calling us if there’s a concern, helping with prior authorizations, immunizations,” Nicol said. “That’s a really big deal, too, for folks who don’t have transportation.”

It’s unclear if another vendor would occupy the pharmacy space in the near future.

The pharmacy inside Lucky supermarket in Santa Rosa’s Montgomery Village is set to close Sept. 1.

Amelia Parreira is a staff writer for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at amelia.parreira@arguscourier.com or 707-521-5208.

North Bay Lucky stores with pharmacies

939 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma

Montgomery Village, 915 Village Court, Santa Rosa

1312 Trancas St., Napa

2355 California Blvd., Napa

570 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur

777 E. Monte Vista Ave., Vacaville

1979 Peabody Road, Vacaville

Source: Lucky

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