From Business Insider, a story about how "hundreds of pharmacists and other employees" at Walgreens store around the country "could walk out of the job on Monday to protest what they say are increasingly miserable working conditions, according to multiple news reports … At issue is working conditions for those in the pharmacy section of Walgreens — in particular, pharmacists complain they are being asked to juggle too many responsibilities, asked not just to fill prescriptions but to provide flu shots and other vaccines."
According to the story, "The planned walkouts … are set to take place October 9-11. It comes after similar actions last month at CVS stores, where pharmacists likewise complain that staffing cuts have left them overburdened … Earlier this month, 85,000 Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers — including hundreds of pharmacists — went on strike for three days after failing to reach a contract agreement with the private healthcare company.
"One of their top concerns was short-staffing, which several workers previously told Insider left employees overwhelmed and caused long wait times for patients."
Walgreens management says that they are "engaged and listening to the concerns raised by some of our team members," and acknowledge that employees are feeling "immense pressure" right now.
- KC's View:
It is ironic that companies like Walgreens and CVS, which talk about playing a more intrinsic role in the nation's healthcare ecosystem, are facing labor troubles because they are understaffed, with working conditions that are at odds with high-quality patient care.
Frankly, few people who ever have been in a CVS or Walgreens would argue with the notion that they are understaffed. I'm personally willing to accept this as fact, not assertion.
I've been skeptical about these companies' ability to deliver on healthcare value propositions pretty much from the beginning. They're retailers, not healthcare experts, and have different priorities when it comes to expense management. For one thing, almost certainly they prioritize driving down labor costs as low as possible. But that doesn't work when delivering healthcare services. (Just ask the folks at Kaiser Permanente.)
I'm all in favor of retail businesses expanding their footprints and service offerings in a way that is organic and nuanced. But they have to make the cultural changes necessary to support their ambitions - they can't just, as I think CVS and Walgreens have in this case, see where the big pile of money is and decide that they want a share of it.
That's greed. Not ambition.