OHIO VALLEY — Area residents are slowly getting back to their normal lives as the lights begin to come back on, and those who need prescriptions either dropped off or picked up are still able to do so.
One of the most well-known pharmacy chains in the area is Fruth Pharmacy, and even though some branches were without power this weekend, employees did their best to still serve the customers. Lynne Fruth, President of Fruth Pharmacy stated that 14 out of 25 stores were affected in some way by the recent storms, but now 24 out of 25 are now back up and functional again.
According to Fruth, during the power outages across the area, they were still able to provide customers with their prescriptions in most situations. In areas where there was a closed store, those prescriptions already filled were taken to another location reasonably close by that was able to stay open.
In the Ohio Valley, Fruth stated the store located on State Route 160 near Holzer Hospital in Gallia County was able to remain open following the storms on Friday. The Pomeroy, Ohio, location was also able to remain open almost the entire time, since power has been restored to that area for several days now. The Point Pleasant, W.Va., location was able to re-open again around 10 a.m. on Monday, soon after they had electricity, and the location in Downtown Gallipolis, Ohio, re-opened around 4 p.m. on Monday.
Fruth continued to explain how the chain of pharmacies operated during the outages, stating in cases where prescriptions couldn’t be called in or insurance companies couldn’t be contacted, customers were issued a three-day supply to hold them over until a time when the prescription could be filled. In some cases, Fruth employees were also able to deliver prescriptions to elderly and shut-in customers. Fruth said several times their main priority is to meet the needs of the customers.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure people stay healthy,” Fruth said.
Even though power is back up in most of their stores, Fruth did say for customers to expect a little longer wait. Since there were a couple days where prescriptions couldn’t be dropped off or called in, and in some cases picked up, the number of customers in some stores have slowed the response time. In addition to the number of customers, Fruth stated there are still several areas where the phones lines are still not yet working properly, and delays with called-in prescriptions are also adding to the longer wait.
Fruth also offered some advice for those customers who take medication regularly, such as blood pressure medicine. Fruth advises customers to not wait until they’re completely out of medication to refill the prescription. That way when situations like this emerges, customers do not have to panic about going without their medication and not being able to refill it right away.
Another staple in the Bend Area and portions of Meigs County, Ohio, Walmart in Mason, W.Va., has been closed for several days now, but things may be looking up. Despite the lack of electricity, as of Tuesday afternoon, Walmart was open for business by the power of a generator from AEP. A spokesperson from Walmart stated the pharmacy is also open, and the store has plenty of bottled water. It was reported the store deli remains closed, and refrigerated items are not available at the moment.
Since the store is operating on a limited source of energy, it was unclear on how long the store would remain open and whether or not it would be able to open for business on Wednesday and Thursday. Electricity is estimated to return to the area on Thursday, July 5. It was also stated that the store is not operating on a cash-only basis. The store is still able to accept credit and debit cards, as well as other methods of payment.
As with prescriptions, another major concern in the area is being able to replace spoiled food items. Local customers on Medicaid with food stamps who have lost food due to the power outage are able to contact the Department of Health and Human Resources and those customers will be given a voucher to replace the lost food. It was reported this must be done with 10 days of the power outages, which began on June 29.
Other citizens who receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, may also get a replacement of food that was purchased with SNAP benefits. In order to do this, the customer must report the loss to the local office or the change center at 1-877-716-1212 within 10 days of the loss. After completing a form describing the amount lost, the customer will receive a replacement allotment on their EBT card equal to the value of the food lost, or the amount of their monthly allotment.
Also concerning SNAP recipients, the loss must be reported within 10 days. It was reported the day of the storm doesn’t determine the date of the loss. The loss could be when a generator ran out of gas and when the food actually spoiled.