Raoul Contreras has lived in Little Village for 25 years and like many of his neighbors, he fills prescriptions at the local CVS pharmacy on South Pulaski Road.
But last week, Contreras heard the store would close June 7. Dismayed, Contreras and members of Mi Villita Neighbors stood with Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd) to express their concerns at a news conference Friday outside the CVS, 2634 S. Pulaski Road.
“It’s here, at this pharmacy, that I received two of my three COVID vaccines,” Contreras said. “It’s here that I get all the little things all of us should have in our cabinet for health, safety, accidents.”
The Little Village pharmacy is among 900 stores CVS plans to close over the next three years as part of a new “retail footprint strategy” announced last November.
“Maintaining access to pharmacy services in historically underserved communities is an important factor we consider when making store closure decisions,” the company said in a statement to the Sun-Times.
The company included a map showing four other CVS locations within three miles of the store being closed. Three of the pharmacies are inside Target stores.
CVS said all prescriptions will be transferred to the CVS pharmacy at 5524 W. Cermak Road in Cicero, which is about 1.5 miles away. Members of Mi Villita said residents will need to take two buses to get there.
Rodriguez said he’s asked CVS to reconsider closing the store. Meanwhile, he said he will work to bring more pharmacy resources to the community, starting with a new pharmacy on 31st Street and Harding Avenue.
In a May 18 letter signed by about 20 officials and organizations and sent to the company, Rodriguez said CVS Health is the preferred pharmacy for many insurances including Aetna, which CVS acquired in 2018, and Medicare. The pharmacy fills nearly 1,800 prescriptions each week from more than 1,000 patients, the letter said.
The letter also stated the pharmacy played a “crucial” role in fighting COVID-19 in the community, which experienced high levels of COVID-19.
“We don’t want to see another blighted business in our community,” the alderman said. “People in the neighborhood are scared.”