Pend Bi_Mart 9-30-21.jpg

Phil Wright/Hermiston Herald

A customer waits outside the pharmacy window Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, at the Pendleton Bi-Mart. The cooperative that same day announced Walgreens will acquire Bi-Mart’s pharmacy business of 56 Bi-Mart pharmacies across Oregon, Idaho and Washington.

Bi-Mart announced Thursday, Sept. 30, that Walgreens will acquire Bi-Mart’s pharmacy business, including “pharmacy patient prescription files and related pharmacy inventory of 56 Bi-Mart pharmacies located across Oregon, Idaho and Washington.”

“This decision, while difficult, is strategically important as we move to strengthen our solid financial position and expand our plans for future growth in the Northwest,” Rich Truett, Bi-Mart president and CEO, said.

Current Bi-Mart pharmacy staff members will be offered an opportunity to join Walgreens.

“We look forward to welcoming Bi-Mart patients to Walgreens pharmacy services, as well as providing employment opportunities to Bi-Mart pharmacy associates in available positions throughout our stores where they can continue to meet the needs of their patients,” Walgreens regional Vice President Rob Ewing said.

Don Leber, vice president of marketing and advertising for Bi-Mart, said the transition has been discussed for quite some time.

“It’s been worked on for several months,” he said. “We started this process two to four years ago with other locations when we transferred (the pharmacies of) 20 stores to see if we could make them more profitable.”

Most prescription information will be transferred to nearby stores, according to a press release from the two companies. In areas that do not have a Walgreens nearby, however, Walgreens will operate already-existing pharmacies in Bi-Mart locations under the Walgreens brand.

It’s not yet known if that will be the case in four northeast Oregon Bi-Mart locations in Hermiston, Pendleton, La Grande or Baker City. The Walgreens locations nearest to Northeastern Oregon are in Tri-Cities, Washington, or Ontario.

A list of which Bi-Mart locations would house a Walgreens pharmacy was not available, Phil Caruso with Walgreens media relations, noting that the deal is subject to customary closing conditions.

Caruso did say that once the transfer is complete, new patients will have access to “all the benefits of Walgreens,” including health screenings, immunizations, omni-channel support that includes access to pharmacists, and “adherence-boosting programs” through a mobile device such as daily pill reminders and refill by scan.

Patients who are having their prescriptions transferred will be notified by mail, and “both companies will work together to help ensure a smooth transition for pharmacy patients,” the release stated.

The file transfer should be complete by January 2022.

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