Picking up prescriptions on campus will no longer be an option for University of Idaho students beginning May 30, when the Student Health Pharmacy closes.
Students will have access to regular prescription services until May 16. After that date, Student Health Pharmacist Heidi Poxleitner said the pharmacy staff will work with students to transfer their prescriptions to other off-campus pharmacies.
“We are going to try our best to transfer students to pharmacies of their choice. They can give us the pharmacy name and number or have them call us during business hours,” Poxleitner said.
Assistant Vice Provost of Student Affairs Greg Tatham said the decision to cut the on-campus pharmacy was made a couple weeks ago, and the reasoning was that increased costs for running the small pharmacy were outweighing decreasing revenue.
“We felt that students would still have many pharmacies to choose from,” Tatham said. “We know there’s a convenience, but the costs would be redirected toward students.”
The proposal to close the pharmacy this summer appeared in the Focus For the Future memo sent out last month by UI Interim Provost Katherine Aiken. Aiken said the sudden decision to close the pharmacy was partly due to the upcoming remodel and repiping of the Student Health Building.
“If we were going to do it, now was the time to do so,” Aiken said.
Tatham said the cost of a pharmacy remodel permit, certain prescriptions becoming free to the public due to the Affordable Care Act and the increasing cost of purchasing other prescriptions led to the decision. Tatham also said the small pharmacy was losing clientele to the availability of many other pharmacies such as those in Walmart, Walgreens and Rite Aid.
UI Student Benefits Specialist Lori Krasselt said closing the on-campus pharmacy led to renegotiations in the Student Health Insurance Plan. Originally, students with SHIP insurance were only able to pick up prescriptions from off-campus pharmacies once, before they were referred to the Student Health Pharmacy for any other pickups or refills. After May 16, this limit will be lifted, Krasselt said, and SHIP students will be able to use any pharmacy off-campus with all of the same benefits that were offered with on-campus pharmacy transactions.
“I do recommend for SHIP students to download a copy of their insurance card on Vandal Web and then print it out … they can take it to the off-campus pharmacy they choose and they can use the card to electronically bill it to their insurance,” Poxleitner said.
Debbie Huffman, director of administrative and fiscal operations, said about 20 percent of UI students use the Students Health Pharmacy regularly. Huffman said she thinks students will be able to adapt to the loss of the pharmacy.
Nishelle Klinkhamer is a graduate student who feels the same.
“There are plenty of other pharmacies to go to, but this one is close and convenient,” Klinkhamer said.
Tatham did say that while he has no plans to reopen the pharmacy, he is open to change if enough students express desire to have it back in the future.
“Nothing’s ever permanent. If we find out the decision is impacting students really negatively and we may have made the wrong decision, we can reapply for a permit,” Tatham said.
George Wood Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org