Inside This Issue - News
CVS Caremark mobilizes to provide Sandy relief
November 19th, 2012
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – Community support has defined CVS Caremark Corp.’s response to the devastation of superstorm Hurricane Sandy, said Scott Baker, executive vice president of internal operations, real estate and supply chain.
From the deployment of a mobile pharmacy in hard hit New Jersey to the relocation of generators from as far away as Texas to the distribution of tens of thousands of bottles of water, the company has done what it can to ease the plight of storm-ravaged customers.
“We are committed to doing all we can to help affected communities,” said Baker. “It was a monster of a storm.”
At the height of Sandy nearly 1,300 CVS/pharmacy stores, from Virginia to Massachusetts had to be closed. Many reopened within hours, and operations were gradually restored at others. A week after the storm made landfall, just 20 outlets were closed, including one in Seaside Heights, N.J., which was still off limits following an evacuation.
Another five units had no power but were filling prescriptions during daylight hours. Without electricity, product UPCs were written down for subsequent computer entry. “In these situations our focus is to take care of the customer,” Baker said.
Sixty-seven stores, meanwhile, were connected to generators. The company had generators positioned in anticipation of the storm, but as the extent of the damage became evident it redeployed others from hurricane-prone areas in Florida and along the Gulf Coast as far away as Galveston, Texas.
Returning stores to their condition before Sandy hit will take anywhere from days to months. Units with minor flooding will require days or weeks to clean up and restock.
Outlets with major flooding will require several weeks of refurbishment. Stores in need of major structural repairs may require months to fully come back online. “Fortunately, the majority of our stores suffered only minor flooding,” Baker said.
To optimize recovery efforts, CVS Caremark coordinated initiatives with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Red Cross and state offices.
The office of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie helped the company select Margate as the mobile pharmacy site. The objective was to have the trailer where the most destruction had been and people were having the hardest time getting medications.
The company was also in the process of deploying a second mobile pharmacy from Tuscaloosa, Ala., where it had been serving patients following a 2011 tornado, to Rockaway Beach in Queens, N.Y. CVS Caremark consulted with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office to help determine where the trailer would be best utilized.
CVS Caremark also took care of its own, tapping its employee relief find to help its staff meet immediate and short-term financial needs. The company also made provisions for employees to get gasoline for home generators and transportation needs.
For all that CVS Caremark did at the corporate level, individual employees also made their mark with relief efforts.
In White Plains, N.Y., on Friday, October 27, a customer came for her medication to treat an irregular heartbeat. The special-order medication was unavailable but, with the storm pending, pharmacist in charge Connie Browne called 20 stores in the market to locate the rarely stocked product. She found it at a store that was 30 minutes away. On Monday, as the bad weather peaked, Browne drove an hour round-trip after work to retrieve the medication and deliver it personally to the patient’s home.
In Maple Shade, N.J., a store had a customer come in after the storm looking for candy and toys for her grandchildren. Her daughter’s family lived in Long Beach Island and had lost everything. They were staying in a hotel and the grandmother was buying things to keep them busy. Shift supervisor Stephanie Baldwin proposed having the children come into the store and go “trick or treating” at each register. Baldwin also showed the woman costumes and picked out two for the children.