YOUNGSTOWN — The pharmacy in St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital now fills prescriptions for everyone.
Previously, the pharmacy was accessible only to hospital patients and others who see a physician in the Mercy Health system.
Mercy Health spokesman Jonathon Fauvie said that Mahoning Matters' coverage of the closure of CVS on Park Avenue and its implications sparked internal discussion to increase access to the pharmacy.
"For more than 100 years in this community, we always focused on responding to the needs of the community," said Fauvie. "This is one way we as a health system can continue to provide access."
Mahoning Matters reported Nov. 22 that the Park Avenue CVS would close Jan. 10. The closure threatens to make downtown Youngstown a pharmacy desert, or a neighborhood in which most people with access to private vehicles live more than one mile from a pharmacy.
The term was coined by Dr. Dima Qato, associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago's College of Pharmacy. Qato's research found that pharmacy closures are associated with persistent, clinically significant declines in adherence to cardiovascular medications among older adults.
The closure of CVS "is going to leave a great gap," said 1st Ward Councilman Julius Oliver, the district in which CVS is located. "To know that Mercy Health is going to help fill that gap is great. But, the convenience aspect is kind of out the window now. [CVS] was right off the freeway and next to the university."
The pharmacy inside the hospital does not sell the sundry items that a customer can find at a CVS or a Walgreens. Also, the hours are less convenient. The St. E's pharmacy is open on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and closed Sundays and on holidays.
The pharmacy hours of the CVS on Park Avenue are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Oliver told Mahoning Matters on Monday that the mayor's office is trying to bring a grocery store with a pharmacy to the soon-to-be vacant store on Park Avenue.
"I wish I could get [Sen. Michael Rulli] to put a Rulli Bros. extension down there, because Rulli Bros. started in downtown Youngstown," said Oliver. "But it's a far reach to try to get any grocery store to come."
Oliver also mentioned that he would speak with the Mercy Health CEO and Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel about starting pharmacy services at the Mercy Health clinic on YSU's campus.