Convenience compromised as NAU pharmacy closes

Illustration by Madison Cohen

Many students who live on campus find it difficult to get around without a car at their disposal. Although this might be a problem faced more often by freshmen than by other students, it is still a valid concern. Having to walk to get to places off campus can become an inconvenient burden to many, especially in the winter during heavy snowfall.

If walking is not an ideal option, knowledge of the Mountain Line transit system or taking an Uber or Lyft is going to be crucial for students who need prescriptions.

A campuswide email from Julia Ryan, the executive director for Campus Health Services, stated that the reason for the pharmacy’s closure came down to an inability to compete with the affordable prices of other competitors.

Ryan stated that factors considered included “careful analysis of the campus pharmacy business operations and the competitive retail market that provides extended hours of operation and lower prices due to high volume purchasing.”

Having cheaper prices on prescriptions is undoubtedly attractive to broke college students. However, not having the option to get prescriptions filled on campus is an accessibility issue that could negatively impact many people.

There is the potential option for some prescriptions such as birth control pills to be filled in three month increments. This could ease some of the burden on students to find frequent transportation to off-campus pharmacies. However, this is very dependent on the health insurance used and the prescription needed.

The closure will take effect Aug. 30, just days after the fall semester beings. The email notifying students was sent out on July 3 and gave proactive students time to switch pharmacies over the summer, but gave limited time to students who have to take care of this change once they are back on campus.

The decision to close the on-campus pharmacy makes sense from a business perspective, especially with budget cuts playing a factor into other facilities on campus.

Ryan’s email about the closure stated that students impacted by the closure may have concerns, and noted that the Campus Health Services staff are here to help throughout the transition.

I personally have only needed to use the on-campus pharmacy once. As a freshman with no car and a violent stomach flu, I would have had to face the possibility of vomiting on the city bus if the pharmacy were not steps away. I find it very unfortunate that the pharmacy’s closing will bring a large inconvenience for students who have always used it to fill their prescriptions.

Having a pharmacy attached to the on-campus urgent care makes sense for a lot of convenient reasons. I sympathize with the future students who will use the campus urgent care but will no longer have the ability to walk to the next room and get their prescription filled.

From my own perspective as a student, it feels as though the limited accessibility that students will be adjusting to was not fully taken into account with the decision to close the pharmacy. In the case of students who will find leaving campus for their prescriptions to be difficult, a myriad of problems may arise because of this decision.