Wednesday, May 2, 2012

CVS vs ?

2012 April 30

Letting Circumstances Get the Better of You

The last day of the month brought with it the reminder that I had two prescriptions that needed to be filled. If I had realized the scarcity of CVS pharmacies in the northern New Mexico - southern Colorado area, I might have opted to refill when we passed a day in Santa Fe. Woulda, coulda, shoulda! 

We were loving our time in northern New Mexico at Lake Heron State Park. It was especially peaceful after all the other campers, except for two, left the area on Sunday. When we arrived there, I knew that I would soon be needing to refill my prescriptions, and began searching both my CVS app and the CVS website for a pharmacy either nearby, or on the way to Arizona. There are very few frustrations for me in this nomadic life. However this was to become one.

Since we were so close to Mesa Verde National Park, we considered heading there from Lake Heron. The thought process was, that we might be able to see this park AND get my drugs in, say, Durango, CO. Well, first, there is no CVS anywhere near Durango. Second, there was no availability at the Mesa Verde campground until May 12, at which time we already have reservations elsewhere.

After many futile searches for CVS stores in assorted towns in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, I gave up and called the CVS in Texas where I last got a refill. What I hoped was that they had access to a list off towns, by state, where their pharmacies are located. On both the app and the CVS website, you must input the name of a town, or its zip code in order to search and that was becoming time consuming as well as frustrating. The woman in Texas did try to help, God bless her. Unfortunately, she was accessing the exact data base I was, which was equally time consuming and frustrating for her. In addition, I could hear her boss asking her what she was doing, which led me to think that he was less than pleased with her use of time, even though she was trying to provide customer service. I thanked her and opted for a Google search of NEW MEXICO CVS STORES. That actually worked, but showed that the only stores were in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. A similar Google search for COLORADO CVS STORES turned up nothing even remotely close to the New Mexico border. Oh bother! 

Now a decision would have to be made. Do we head back south the road which we've just travelled north several days ago, or do I try to muddle through about a week without any prescribed drugs by waiting till we get to Flagstaff to get the refills? (Oh, yes, I'd already done the Google search for ARIZONA CVS STORES). I'm all for waiting till Flagstaff. But, Raymond is concerned more about how this absence of meds will affect my health. He really is a good husband and friend. He decides that we should travel from Lake Heron to Chama, where we can do our laundry and call one of the CVS pharmacies, of which there are three, in Santa Fe. His reasoning is that NM 84 was a lovely road for scenery and for driving and we could stop at Echo Amphitheater along the way, since we didn't stop on our way north. Sounded very reasonable and I did like driving on NM 84. We had a plan.

While the clothes were washing at the Chama Laundromat, I looked up the number for the CVS Pharmacy closest to 84. Low and behold, there is one on Paseo de Peralta, directly off 84. O.K.,things are looking up.

The woman who answered the phone at the CVS on Paseo de Peralta sounded old. Hey, I'm old and I recognize those similar to me. I explained, as I have done for the past five months, that I am traveling and in need of refills for my prescriptions. Generally, the person on the other end asks for my name and vital information, which they verify with the information in their computer system, ask when I would like to pick the refills up and that's it. Not this time! After I explained what I needed, pharmacy tech said that I would have to come in, with my prescription bottles, and they "would see what they could do."  Because the woman sounded old, I didn't want to press her and tell her that I've never had to do that before. I also didn't want to insult by implying that she wasn't doing her job, so I simply hung up,  extremely dissatisfied.

Raymond, my very own Pollyanna, said "No big deal. We'll just go there and they'll refill them, no problem." I wasn't so sure. And, in hindsight, I should've called back, or at least called one of the other CVS stores in Santa Fe. Like I said, "Woulda, coulda, shoulda!" 

We did enjoy the drive back toward Santa Fe. Even if the sights were the same ones we had seen on our way north, we were seeing them from a different perspective. And we loved our stop at the Echo Amphitheater. We missed it on our way north because it was on the other side of the road and by the time we saw the pull off, there were too many cars behind us for us to safely turn, on the two lane road. We spent a lovely time there and both mentioned how glad we were that we had decided to come this way again. We were both feeling very pleased with the way things were turning out.

So, we head toward Santa Fe, about 45 miles farther south. It is approximately 12:30. We arrive at the CVS on Paseo de Peralta around 2:00, because we were taking our time and enjoying the drive. We found a place to park and while Ray took Greyla for a walk, I went to CVS, prescription bottles in hand. I went up to the window for "drop off" and waited for a young man to come wait on me. After a couple of minutes, he did come over, at which time I explained that I had called in the morning. I also reported what I said and what the woman on the phone said, and then explained that I have never had to do bring my prescription bottles into the store before. I also mentioned, that in the past, the person at CVS simply pulls up my information on their computer, and if there are refills, asks when I want to pick them up. Mr Pharmacy Man seemed to look at me like I had grown an additional head. He took my bottles, looked at them, and then at me, as if I were attempting to perpetrate a fraud. Then he typed into his computer. 

After looking at his computer screen, he said, "Well there are active refills available"; 

me: "Yes, I know"; 

Pharman,"Well…I suppose we could transfer them here and refill them"; 

me:"Yes, that's what has always been done before, only over the phone, so that they were ready when I came in." 

Pharman:"When do you want these?"  

Me: "Now." 

Pharman: (seeming shocked), "Well, we can have them in about 30 minutes."  

Me: "OK, I'll grab something to eat. Thanks." (albeit sarcastically)  

As I turned to walk toward the door, I realize that there was now a line of 8 people behind me. And yet, I still thought the prescriptions would be ready in 30 minutes. I am so naive!

Back in the motor home, I vented nonstop about poor customer service and people who can't or won't follow corporate policy regarding refills. Poor Raymond. I was tired and hungry. Driving exhausts me and not having things go as planned, or as they have gone in the past, also drains me. Raymond and I talked for awhile and then he offered to go check on the prescriptions, [probably to get away from me :)] and because it had been at least an hour since I dropped them off. He suggested I get some rest, which seemed like a great idea to me. Off he went, while I curled up on the sofa with Greyla.

About 45 minutes later R came back, empty handed. CVS told him it would be another 30 minutes. It is now nearly 4 PM.

Raymond decided to go to the store and get us something to eat. He came back with a delicious turkey wrap for me, along with some bakery muffins for breakfast, and a garlic roasted chicken for himself. 

At 5 o'clock R went back to CVS, and emerged 25 minutes later with my drugs, as well as some cold Corona. We called a campground in Bernalillo, which had space and off we drove to Coronado Campground, about 40 miles away.

Somehow, the lightness of earlier in the day had been overshadowed by the whole CVS experience and I was unable to shake it. The campground turned out to be decent and, for the area, cheap!  We had the rest of our dinner and decided to stay put for a couple of days, since Raymond was very fond of the little shelter area that accompanied each site. I went to bed at 8:45, hoping a good night's sleep would put me in a better place by morning.

Our "yard" at Coronado Campground

Unfortunately, when I awoke, I was still feeling pretty irritable. WTH?  After a walk and some coffee and a muffin, I was a little better, but still broody. I decided to call home and talk to my brother, Vinny.

Voila! that did the trick. 

Maybe I wasn't really so put out by CVS. No, I REALLY was. But, maybe I was also annoyed by the fact that I have to take medications in the first place. And maybe, just maybe, I was also missing my family.   



  1. We've been successfully using Walmart pharmacies for the past three years with only a couple of hiccups. . .

    I know it's frustrating, but necessary. . .hang in there!


  2. I'm with you, Janice. Love, love,love Walmart pharmacies. I can order refills in the Walmart in the town where I am and indicate (online) the store number of the last Walmart that filled the order. They will then tell me when the order will be ready for pick up. Walmart is a great resource for full-timers. Hiccups have been few and far between for us.

  3. That's the way it's supposed to work with CVS, too, and HAS until this time :( I switched to CVS after interviewing the CVS pharmacist at the store in Bellevue, at home. She assured me that their computer system is nationwide and that all they had to do was enter my name & verify my vitals.

    As I said at the end, I think this incident took on greater proportion because of surrounding factors, like me feeling old and missing my brother.

    I am not a huge fan of Walmart, altho I have shopped there A LOT since we've been on the road.