IGNACIO – Farmers Fresh Pharmacy, the only commercial pharmacy in Ignacio, will close its doors Sunday, leaving a hole in the town’s health care system.
Farmers Fresh Pharmacy notified the community June 18 that all customers must transfer their prescriptions to other pharmacies. The pharmacy is closing because of a combination of financial challenges, insurance costs and industry regulations, owners said. Since the closest pharmacies are in Bayfield and Durango, customers may have a harder time getting their prescription needs met.
“The pharmaceutical industry and retail pharmaceuticals is very highly regulated. With those regulations come very high costs,” said Brook Lee, owner of Farmers Fresh Pharmacy. “We just don’t have enough support to keep the pharmacy up.”
Farmers Fresh Pharmacy cannot legally close without transferring everyone’s prescriptions to another pharmacy, Lee said. Customers can transfer a prescription in person between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. until Friday, and they can leave a voicemail message with transfer details anytime through Sunday. On Monday, pharmacists will automatically transfer all leftover prescriptions to the Bayfield Pharmacy.
There are no plans to reopen the pharmacy in the future. Of the two employees, one was already leaving and the other is moving on as a result of the closure.
Community members had 13 days between June 18 and June 30 to transfer their accounts. This includes weekends, when customers can make the request only by leaving a voicemail message.
“It’s the end of the month and the end of the quarter, so business-wise, it’s good timing,” Lee said. She gave two reasons for the short notice period: staying open longer than June 30 wasn’t financially viable, and giving people a shorter time frame would urge them to take action faster.
The elimination of the pharmacy could give Ignacio residents one more reason to take their business to Durango, she said. “It’s been a tough decision to make to do that, but it’s also one we had to make.”
Dixie Melton, a family doctor at Ignacio Family Medicine, said the short time frame has been both confusing and difficult for her patients. Staff members at the doctor’s office have spent increasing time helping patients navigate the system and transfer prescriptions.
“I just don’t think that’s fair to the community,” Melton said.
Melton is most concerned about elderly patients and those who have difficulty traveling to Durango or Bayfield for their prescription needs. Currently, the only public transportation option is Road Runner Transit. The service has two connecting routes between Ignacio and Bayfield: first, from Ignacio to Bayfield at 6:30 a.m., and second, from Bayfield to Ignacio at 10:40 a.m., said Matt Nesbitt, division director for Road Runner.
The closure will also impact Southern Ute tribal members and community members who either use the Farmers Fresh Pharmacy or must fill prescriptions there because the Southern Ute Health Center is unable to provide certain medications, according to a health center notification.
“I thought they did a really good job, and I think the community is going to miss that service,” Melton said.