This Woman Has Been Worked Over With Fists by a Company District Bully

Jp Enlarged

Ralphs is a Kroger Company.  Check out their values, then read this, then write a letter to Kroger telling them what hypocrits they are.  We MUST bring light to dark places like this.  I believe that this woman did it right.  Document, document, document.  This is golden in a court of law, with the California Board of Pharmacy, the EEOC and whatever agency the state of California has to protect citizens from discrimination on the job.   I am proud of her.  A naturalized USA citizen who lives her life actually believing in the high values that we advertise all around the world.  I hate bullies and Rachel is a bully.  Here is how bullies need to be handled.  From the movie “History of Violence”.

 

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HR = Pharmacy Human Resources Specialist
PC = Pharmacy Coordinator
Both HR and PC are also California Licensed Pharmacists
During the job interview in November, 2007, HR Rachel was very impressed of my working experience as a full time Rite Aid pharmacist since 1999, including graveyard shifts, over 6 years of floater/relief duties, and on-call for pharmacy supervisors on day offs. I worked at over 100 Pharmacies in Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Luis Obispo, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. She also acknowledged my regular working shifts of closing and weekends which are not easy at all.
Rachel confirmed me I was going to work with Ralphs’ Best Quality of Pharmacy Staff, i.e. Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians and Pharmacy Clerks. She wanted me to start working as soon as possible. However, I spent several months to make a decision due to a lower pay and fewer vacation weeks. My final decision came out from completely agreeing with the concept of working at Ralphs Pharmacies where the customers/patients can make only one stop for groceries and prescriptions. In addition, a Union Officer gave me an advice of working as a Ralphs union pharmacist, I could gain retirement benefits in both Pension and Health Insurance. If I stayed working with Rite Aid, I would have only the pension benefit. Health Insurance is very important for me who is a hepatitis B carrier and have the family history of colon cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
My background, culture, upbringing and belief are to work “hard” for and protect my employer. My Career Goal is to be a Good Pharmacist practicing professionally with least mistake from the beginning to the end of my career. Be Authentic, Truthful and Ethical, the individual I truly am. Also, I believe there is more job/work security as a Union Member.
Following is a chronology of incidents at Ralph. February 14, 2008
I joined Ralphs in February 14, 2008 as a full time floater pharmacist. I went to have 2-day training at the Corporate office in Compton, CA.
I believe in the Kroger Co. Core Values which are as follows:
 Honesty: Doing the right thing and telling the truth.
 Integrity: Living our values in all we do, unified approach to how we do business and treat each other.
 Respect: Valuing opinions, property and perspectives of others.
 Diversity: Reflecting a workplace that includes a variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures, diversity of opinions and thoughts.
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 Safety: Watching out for others, being secure and safe in your workplace.
 Inclusion: Your voice matters, working together works, encouraging everyone’s involvement, being the best person you can be.
Company Person
I believe that I had proved myself as a company person when Rachel requested me to work on a Friday at a 24-hour Ralphs-759 in Westwood during my on-the-job training weeks.
One Saturday on my day off, around 10:00am I got a call from Rachel to cover a shift at Ralphs in Laguna Hills. I drove almost 2 hours to get there due to the heavy traffic on Freeway 5 South. The store director really appreciated of my showing up and taking good care of the Pharmacy Business.
Another Saturday, I was very sick and called Rachel to replace my shift at Raplhs in West L.A. Rachel forced me to go to work while I repeated to her several times that I was very ill. Rachel instructed me that I could leave the pharmacy only when a relief pharmacist from an agency company showed up. Fortunately, my husband was off that day and he drove me to work because I was really sick.
March 14, 2008: Experienced insubordination by an employee at Ralphs-759, Westwood.
The working shift was from 12:45pm to 9:15pm. I worked with a male pharmacist, a couple pharmacy technicians and clerks. At 5:00pm about 30 minutes after the other pharmacist left, a patient came to pick up his prescription. A male pharmacy technician, Al, could not find the prescription that was just filled by the male pharmacist before he left the pharmacy. Al directed me to fill that prescription again because it was an inexpensive medication. I politely asked Al to look for it on the shelves again in case of misplacement. Al did not even check the signature log in case somebody in the patient’s family had already picked up that prescription. Al refused to perform the work assignment and walked out from the pharmacy without telling any pharmacy personnel whether he was going to take a short break, or a lunch break. After over an hour when Al didn’t show up, I called the Pharmacy Manager for his advice. I was instructed to contact HR Rachel directly. I explained the whole situation to Rachel and was told it is not easy to discipline a Union employee. This is insubordination and one of the “CAUSES FOR IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL” (See attachment #1, Rules and Regulations, item k).
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March 31st – April 10th 2008: Unacceptable work ethics by a technician at Ralph 127, Northridge/Porter Ranch.
I worked as a floater/relief pharmacist at one of the busy Ralphs pharmacies while the new hired pharmacy manager was on vacation. Not only Vanessa, a female regular pharmacy technician did not take good care of her regular patients/customers, but also, she spent excessive company time on personal calls and reading unpaid store magazines. Vanessa’s unacceptable working manners could be investigated by plenty of pharmacy cameras. This is indicated in Rules and Regulations, Work Performance, item 8. After patiently working with Vanessa for a few days and she did not show any improvement in her work attitude, I called Rachel and mentioned Vanessa seemed to abuse me who was a new floater pharmacist. Vanessa should have done her best to help the pharmacy team to provide the best patient care service. Rachel made a 3-way call with me and PC Kenneth. Kenneth showed up at that pharmacy the next day. Kenneth showed me how to work with Vanessa by holding her shoulders and telling her what to do. Not only did I have to work as a pharmacist, but I also had to babysit an adult pharmacy technician. I feel that the company should hire motivated employees and train them to contribute as part of a skilled Company team. Later on, several pharmacy staff told me Kenneth and Vanessa used to work together in the previous pharmacy before they joined Ralphs pharmacy.
I respect and abide by the Kroger Co. Core Values and I get disappointed when people do not. I felt the Kroger Co. Core Values were only in writing but not in the real practice. Ralphs pharmacists and pharmacy technicians asked me what was going on, and why Management, especially Kenneth and Rachel kept asking them whether they had any written report to complain about me. I do my best to maintain professionalism and integrity as a Pharmacist for and to protect Ralph. I exercise best practice so the customer and Ralphs’ benefits, knowing full well that this is not always the case and it is a challenge to make it a win-win situation. After all, we are licensed professionals in the Health Industry.
I am very confused what Rachel confirmed me of working with Ralphs’ Best Quality of Pharmacy Staff. I sent her an e-mail for the job descriptions for a Ralphs floater pharmacist, however she had never replied my e-mail.
Rachel could protect a pharmacy technician of cheating clock in clock out working time/period while she fired one male floater pharmacist who did the same thing. April 3, 2009: Non-professional, disrespectful staff attitude at Ralph 289, Los Angeles.
April 7, 2009, I sent an e-mail to both Rachel and Kenneth my observations and matters of concern about the non-professional, disrespectful attitude by some of the pharmacy staff at Ralphs-289 in Los Angeles. They cared more about their personal needs instead of the customer. The female technician, Krystal, overrode the prices of her mother’s several prescriptions below than $4 promotional prices. I am a full-time floater pharmacist, and after experiencing this pharmacy, I felt it was my obligation to speak-up. I believe in Ralphs credibility and reputation, however, my concerns have NOT been addressed nor did I get any
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support by either Rachel or Kenneth. Again, later on, several pharmacy staff told me Kenneth and Krystal used to work together in the previous pharmacy before they joined Ralphs pharmacy. There was no investigation from the management at all and Krystal kept overriding the prescription prices.
Three Months later on Sunday, July 5th, 2009 I sent an e-mail to HR: I have a closing shift schedule at the same above pharmacy (Ralph 289, Los Angeles) the next day and look forward to working with staffs that have a more professional attitude. I like working at Ralphs Pharmacies and don’t want to jeopardize my professional career. I hope the Ralphs-289 pharmacy staffs now have a more positive, professional attitude. I don’t want to jeopardize any staff’s livelihood, however, the pharmacist and staffs are the last link between the doctor and the patients that depends on us. We have to maintain a high standard. June-July 2009: Change work schedule at the last moment.
My original work schedules sent on Friday, June 6th, 2009 had me off on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so I had made plans to have my car serviced. On Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 Rachel e-mailed me a new updated weekly schedule. I was very surprised to discover that I had to work five days on 4th of July week. I would have appreciated it if Rachel or the scheduler had given me a courtesy call about working on the following Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 at Ralphs-615 in Chino. I replied to HR and requested that I could accommodate the schedule if I could be working a closing shift at a Ralphs pharmacy in San Fernando Valley area where my car would be serviced. Rachel sent me a reminder e-mail on Tuesday, June 30th, 2009: as follows:
Angie:
This is one last and final reminder: You are scheduled at store 615 tomorrow. You failed to request Wednesday as a PD and as such, you were scheduled to work. Failure to follow this schedule will result in further disciplinary action for not
following your schedule as posted.
Rachel also copied her e-mail to the Director of Pharmacy as well. This indicates to me that HR has taken the disrespectful posture of “to do it or else” without concern of the employee! Furthermore, I couldn’t fix my car and I experienced an overheat engine while I was driving to work at Chino. I called the pharmacy for not being on time due to an engine problem. This is another unnecessary stress.
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July 11th to July 12th, 2009: Incidents at Ralphs-219 in Encino.
The weekends after 4th of July, 2009, I worked at Ralphs Pharmacy in Encino. On Saturday at 10:15am, I received a call from a male customer to have me contact his doctor for a “Flu” prescription for his wife. I immediately called and left messages at the doctor office. Around 11:30am, I called the doctor at home per the patient’s request. The doctor started yelling at me disrespectfully and told me not to call him at home. It was my first time dealing a doctor with an unprofessional attitude and it really scared me to death. The customer’s wife showed up on Sunday at 5:30pm while we were closing the pharmacy. Her prescription was not ready because her doctor was mad that we called him at home. Her husband showed up at 5:40pm and announced himself as a doctor. He was a dentist who could only prescribe the prescriptions under his practice areas (not for Flu). However, all the Pharmacy computers were shut down and that we were unable to fill the script after Pharmacy business hours.
The same weekend, I experienced with a California Dentist came to the pharmacy and requested to refill his wife’s Pain Killer Prescription of a Generic for Norco-10 in the quantity of 120 tablets. He had been prescribing High Quantity of Pain Killers for his own wife while a couple Ralphs Pharmacies filled and dispensed those prescriptions for him and her many times in several years. Did Pharmacists at Ralphs ignore performing their Professional Judgment? Monday July 13th, 2009
I was on 3-way call with Rachel and PC Peter for my explanation on a customer complaint. Does management have any idea or understand how much pressure the pharmacy team is under all day long working at a busy pharmacy, esp. on weekends? Then after we close, we need to go home to support a family that is waiting for us. I just found out from management level that we need to stay longer, even after the pharmacy’s closing time, for customers that come after closing. This means that we need to re-open the pharmacy and clock in overtime, and the company is against overtime.
I also mentioned the California Dentist and High Quantity of Pain Killers Prescriptions for his own wife since 2005, however, that important issue was completely ignored by Ralphs Pharmacy Management. Monday July 27th, 2009:
Both Rachel and the scheduler did not call me, however, I received a fax for changing my working schedule on that Thursday, July 30th, 2009 from an opening shift at Ralphs-22 in Los Angeles to be a closing shift at Ralphs729 in Newbury Park. I had my set plan on that Thursday evening but I had to work from 11am to 9pm instead. At that time I really did not want to jeopardize my full time job while inevitable stress and worry kept attacking me more often.
Reference: United Food & Commercial Workers Int’l. Union Local 770 Retail Food & Meat Agreement March 5, 2007 – March 6, 2011 for Albertsons, Ralphs, Vons,
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in Article 5 – WORKING Hours and Overtime, Modify Section M of Work Schedule are as follows: “The Employer shall post a work schedule for a two (2) week period in advance, in ink, for all employees, showing their surname and first initial, not later than the end of the first shift on the Wednesday preceding the first day of the following two (2) workweeks (Monday through Sunday). Any alteration in such work schedule must be made not later than the end of the first shift on the Friday of the week. If the work schedule within any day is changed after Friday without reasonable cause, the matter may be subject to the “grievance” procedure. The Employer agrees that changes after the Wednesday posting will only be made for operational purposes and shall not be made for arbitrary and capricious reasons”. Thursday July 30th, 2009: Incidents at Ralphs-729 in Newbury Park.
I would have appreciated it if the pharmacy manager at that Ralphs Pharmacy, who knew he needed to leave the pharmacy for a mandatory meeting at the corporate office and would not come back to work in the pharmacy, had arranged one pharmacy technician, Erica, to close the pharmacy with me. Erica told me she worked until 7pm only. In that afternoon the store director came back from the corporate meeting and assigned her to clean up the pharmacy due to the corporate visitors coming the next day. Now, not only did I not have a second pharmacist to assist, but the only pharmacy technician available, Erica was cleaning the pharmacy.
This created chaos in the pharmacy that day. Why was my work schedule changed and not provided enough help? Rachel knew that the work conditions would not be good, yet never offered or provided any help or support. Was this a political move to stress me out, to put me in no win situations and discredit me?
That afternoon there was another complaint by a female from a dental office. She called in a new Antibiotic prescription for a boy and I needed to verify with her a couple times because there was a discrepancy in dosage/direction for a boy. I requested to talk with the dentist but she refused. I also requested that she faxed in this new prescription. She refused to do that also, and she insisted on calling customer service to make a complaint. To make it short, a store in-charge person could tell her to fax the prescription to the pharmacy and there’s a discrepancy in dosage/direction on the prescription and I needed to reach the dentist for clarification. I was very surprised and disappointed that both HR Rachel and PC Kenneth considered my action as “bad customer service”. I was doing my due diligence to confirm a possible mistake in dosage by the dentist. As a trained, licensed pharmacist, I was using my professional judgment for the welfare of the customer and to protect my employer, Ralphs. I went out of my way to accept the last minute, ill-timed change in work schedule from HR Rachel.
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August 10, 2009: HR and PC Did not listen to my explanation at all.
Both of HR Rachel and PC Kenneth showed up at the pharmacy where I worked on Monday, August 10th, 2009 and combined the previous incidents happening on Sat-Sun 7/11/09 to 7/12/2009 and this one to write me up: Failure to provide good customer service. However the date of infraction shows on the paperwork in 7/13 – 7/31. They had already prepared the paperwork and did not want to listen to my explanation. I signed the paper with the words of “signing under protest” underneath my signature, instructed by my Union Representative. Moreover, PC Kenneth accused me of damaging the company business because that female customer at Ralphs Pharmacy in Encino did not fill any prescription at that pharmacy after the incident. However, I checked in the computer on the same day and found out she was still filling her prescriptions with that pharmacy. I just wondered what was happening to the Management Level who totally forgot about the Kroger Co. Core Values i.e. Honesty: Telling the truth, Integrity, Respect, Diversity, Safety and Inclusion. I did not feel well and went to see my doctor and he gave me a doctor note stating that I was advised of no work for one week due to medical reason.
Before I returned to work I reply an e-mail to Rachel as follows: Please reconsider my 5-day schedule next week at R-39, one of the difficult Ralphs Pharmacy in Los Angeles. I’m not quite sure I will have enough physical and mental stamina to handle the same R-39 pharmacy for 5 days. I very much appreciate it if you can schedule in a couple days at an easier Ralphs Pharmacy(s). I am confident in your scheduling abilities and expertise, and I know that you can adjust my locations. However, she replied with “At this time I am not able to change your schedule” and again, she also copied to the Director of Pharmacy as well.
My husband drove me to work during that week. I started taking a legal 10- minute break while in the past I ignored and always performed as an excellent employee with the work attitude of customer and business came first. I started receiving week by week working schedules and most of them were sent on Friday after 5pm by fax. I was completely unable to make my personal plans in advance. I wish HR Rachel had kept her words/promise during the job interview that I must regularly receive my work schedules for 3 weeks in advance. Sunday November 1st, 2009: Fraudulent Claims Incident
I discovered a Medi-Cal fraudulent claims at R-729, Newbury Park and I notified HR and PC Rothstein by e-mail as follows:
A cash customer, Mr.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX) came to pick up a refill prescription of Atenolol 25mg, however, the original prescription was filled and billed to Medi-Cal on 9/25/2009 under his son: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX was on the image of the prescription. The note’s left for the pharmacy manager as well.
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There’re also other previous high blood pressure prescriptions on the son’s profile billed to Medi-Cal. Does the company need to contact Medi-Cal for this current and past incorrect billing issues?
Best Regards, Angie(Benyapa) T.
I was disappointed that neither of them replied to my e-mail. I understand that those reporting or helping with investigations of fraud, such as False Claims, are protected from retaliation and cannot be fired, demoted, suspended or harassed. November 28th, 2009: California State Board of Pharmacy sent some of the messages under the subject of “Ongoing Discussion on Prevention of Medication Errors” as follows:
(1) medication errors do occur, there are 350 million prescriptions filled each year in California,
(2) the Board has requirements for all pharmacies to operate vigorous quality assurance programs that the Board forcefully enforces to ensure all errors are closely reviewed by the pharmacy, staff are educated and process changes are made to prevent a recurrence,
(3) There is no acceptable number of medication errors a pharmacy or pharmacist can make,
(4) No pharmacist wants to make an error, and most live in fear of making an inadvertent error,
(5) a grossly negligent error will result in formal discipline, other errors reported to the Board, if substantiated, will be cited and fined,
(6) to (10) see attachment #3 December 5-6, 2009: New Hire & Work Environment
Saturday and Sunday, December 5th and 6th, 2009 I worked at Ralphs-84 in Castaic with regular Pharmacy Technicians. I was told one Ralphs floater pharmacist, Thomas, recently got fired because a new hired store and pharmacy clerk, Michelle, did not show up. I was also informed that from now on PC Kenneth would not allow any floater pharmacist to work with Michelle on weekends.
Ralphs-84 in Castaic is a busy pharmacy where PC Kenneth used to be a Pharmacy Manager. I met him a couple times on weekends when he came in the pharmacy and gave his friends’ prescriptions and instructed pharmacy technicians what to do.
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In one weekend of November, 2009, Thomas, had work schedules at this pharacy and Michelle did not show up. Thomas must had experienced a very high level of stress/pressure working along with only a filled-in store clerk, a potential unauthorized person working in pharmacy, that he inadvertently walked out for lunch without locking the pharmacy and got terminated by Raphs.
PC Kenneth was the one who originally violated the pharmacy law by having that store clerk who was not an authorized person to come and work inside the pharmacy. Unfortunately, Pharmacist Thomas got terminated instead.
Since the beginning of November, 2009, I contacted the pharmacy manager, Tracy, to provide good Regular Pharmacy Technicians to work with a floater pharmacist on weekends. I want to provide good customer service while the company endeavors to provide positive work environments and conditions where the Pharmacist is not interrupted or distracted unnecessarily while compounding prescriptions. Also, company needs to follow the California State Board of Pharmacy’s requirements for all pharmacies to operate vigorous quality assurance programs. Thursday December 10, 2009: Work Environment
I worked as a closing pharmacist at Ralphs-84 in Castaic and experienced a very unpleasant work surroundings and conditions. I sent an e-mail to HR and PC Rothstein the following day as follows:
Dear Rachel and Ken:
I understand R-84 Pharmacy need to have wire maintenance done, however, it really disrupted our production and pharmacy operation yesterday. They have also placed a big ladder at the corner where Schedule II Narcotics and other controlled substance cabinets are located. It is a major area for us, and has substantially affected the work flow when we have to fill any controlled substance prescription.
It is difficult when a Patient’s Privacy is involved, to have unauthorized person(s) working inside the pharmacy during business hours. They will be coming back again this afternoon during my working hours as a floater pharmacist covering a closing shift. I understand that it is required maintenance for the entire store. Is it possible to have the electricians adjust their schedule and work around the pharmacy area? In the mean-time, we’ll continue do the best we can and serve our customers with the current environmental condition.
Best Regards, Benyapa (Angie) T.
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They did not respond. The electricians showed up to do their work and affected our work flow as anticipated. Thursday December 24th, 2009: QA Policy and Procedures
I signed and faxed a company document to the corporate. I acknowledge that I have read and understand the updated QA Policy and Procedures. That updated version notes that the pharmacist on duty discovering or being informed of an error will have the responsibility of processing a Pharmacy Incident Report Form. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. On the same day I worked as a closing pharmacist at Ralphs-84 in Castaic. I found one misfilled refill prescription with the category of “Alleged Wrong Medication Direction” and I informed the pharmacy manager immediately. She was reluctant to process a Pharmacy Incident Report and did not offer the customer a free prescription with the accurately filled medication at NO CHARGE as indicated on the Quality Assurance Policy and Procedure Manual. I sent this Pharmacy Incident Report before the end of my shift.
PC Kenneth came to this pharmacy. The Pharmacy Manager told me PC Rothstein did not approve having a regular Pharmacy Technician working with me on the weekends i.e. Saturday, December 26, 2009 and Sunday, December 27, 2009. Pharmacy was closed on Friday, December 25, 2009 because it was a Christmas Holiday. Surprisingly Kenneth did not keep his words (PC Kenneth would not allow any floater pharmacist to work with Michelle on weekends) while Kenneth expected me to provide good customer service under an inadequate help work condition.
December 26th to 27th, 2009: Inadequate Help
The days after Christmas were unexpectedly busy and the IT problems were also not resolved (see email below). The helper assigned on those days, Michelle, was not the regular pharmacy technician that is familiar with the doctors, patients and procedures. It was extremely difficult working with Michelle and the work flow was affected. I later found out that that she was a clerk in training that worked in both the grocery and pharmacy. Michelle was constantly interrupting and distracting me with frivolous questions and answering the patients without proper knowledge while I was compounding prescriptions. She wanted to type new prescriptions that I had to correct more than 50% of her prescription labels. With the after Christmas rush and IT problems, I was multi-tasking while she was spending company time text messaging on her cell-phone. She reported me to PC Rothstein for giving her a hard time. I was again surprised that PC Kenneth only listened to her and never contacted me about it. I was the Person-In-Charged on those working days. I felt that I was “set-up” again. Anticipating the after holiday work load and I had also requested “good experienced” help for these days from Pharmacy Coordinator. I was ignored.
Dear Rachel:
Per your previous tele-conference instructions regarding overtime, this is to inform you that because of IT issues, I had to stay a little after my scheduled
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hours. For the past week, R-84 Pharmacy has been having challenges processing electronic prescriptions in a timely manner with Facey Medical Group. I was informed by the Pharmacy Manager that the IT issue is being worked on.
Patients came in the pharmacy and expected to pick up their prescriptions (prepared electronically by the Doctor’s office), however, since they were not in the system (computer), they were not prepared. Thus, I had to spend a lot of time calling Facey Medical
directly to keep the process moving, and at the same time, keep the patient happy. Understandably, it appears that Facey Medical Group may be very busy responding to each individual patients’ request.
I couldn’t finish my work on Saturday 12/26/09 and continued to work at the same pharmacy on Sunday 12/27/2009. It’s still very busy in the pharmacy and there were a couple prescriptions that needed to be verified with MDs directly. Fortunately, those doctors were working as on-call doctors themselves for the long holiday weekend. I stayed overtime on Sunday 12/27/2009 for about 20 minutes in order to finish my work, including leaving clear messages for the pharmacy staff to call MD’s office on Monday 12/28/2009.
Please feel free to give me a call at F4L-309 on Monday 12/28/2009 if you need more explanation.
Best Regards, Benyapa (Angie) T. Sunday January 10th, 2010: PC Kenneth did not read the details of an incident
Ralphs 729, Newbury Park: I filed two (2) Pharmacy Incident Reports of Alleged Wrong Drug Used and Alleged Wrong Doctor (not related to a Medi-Cal False claim). I needed to handle several issues generated by regular pharmacists on weekdays. One of the incidents was created by the Pharmacy Manager who wrote a new prescription on a piece of paper (not on the legitimate prescription pad) without a written date and more. I called the doctor to verify that prescription, unfortunately, he was hesitated and insisted Pharmacy contact a patient’s doctor on Monday. My full explanation was recorded in that Pharmacy’s computer, however, PC Rothstein did not read it and he used this customer complaint to suspend me on Thursday, January 28th, 2010. Sunday January 17th, 2010: COMBAT METHAMPHETAMINE EPIDERMIC ACT
Ralphs 757, Stevenson Ranch: The pharmacy doesn’t follow the company rule sent out on 4/23/2009 with the subject of PSE (pseudoephedrine) Online Registry: We MUST Update All PSE purchases online registry at the end of the business day. The female customer who filed complaints about me called the pharmacy and wanted her mother to come to the
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pharmacy to buy two (2) boxes of 48 tablets pseudoephedrine 30mg. She had been having her mother with her mother’s driver license to buy Brand and Generic Sudafed and it would me over 9 grams (30-day purchase federal limits). After I spent time and checked in PSE Registry Signature Log Book. I told her to contact the regular pharmacists in the following day. Bruce, a new intern pharmacist working with me had written a clear note of dates, products, quantities starting from November, 2009 and I assumed that the pharmacy manager and staff would go over with it and solved the issues created by their own pharmacy staffs. January 28th, 2010: Kenneth suspended me without full investigation, not even any courtesy call to discuss on those incidents.
Although I received a copy of a letter sent by Union Local 770 to Ralphs after my first write up on August, 10, 2009 stating that Union Local 770 did not agree with the content and found that it was issued without foundation, I understood I was still under investigation. I have been doing my best to uphold the profession, using my professional judgment, customer care, and protecting the company. Instead of appreciating my professional effort to step up and follow the updated Rule, QA Policy and Procedure including other company rules, PC Rothstein suspended me from 1/28/2010 to 2/3/2010 with the reason of failure to provide “excellent customer service”, “inappropriate/unprofessional conduct” occurring at Ralphs-84, Ralphs-729 and Ralphs-757. February 1st, 2010 to April 11th, 2010: On Leave of Absence from Emotional Stress, Insomnia and Chest Pain and on a disability leave from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression and Insomnia. April 4th, 2010: Sent an e-mail to HR and Pharmacy Assistant and attached a doctor note to continue seeing current DRs and therapist.
“I have been getting better, and at my visit yesterday, my primary care physician also felt I am well enough, and released me back to work before his previously assigned date (5/1/2010). Attached is the Dr.note. I am very grateful for all the support from my family, friends, doctors, nurses, a therapist and other related health care practitioners.
Please advise me of the process, procedure and protocol required to return to work.” April 12th, 2010: Went back to work before a previous assigned date of 5/1/2010. May 5th, 2010: Attended the First Grievance Meeting with Eileen Alcala, my Union Rep. and Kirk Reynolds, a Ralphs Labor Relations.
Eileen impressed with the report prepared for this meeting while an e-mail sent by the Pharmacy Coordinator Kenneth did not have any detail or foundation of those incidents. Eileen had a confidence for having a positive outcome. Although Mr. Reynolds kept stating he did not
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understand my English several times, he read my report thoroughly and questioned me almost every word.
May 10th, 2010: Without any verbal or written notice, HR sent an e-mail
switching me to a part-time status as follows:
Date: May 10, 2010 11:29 AM
Subject: RE: Not Available Working Days in June, 2010
To: Angie Tangjettanaporn <angie.happiness@gmail.com>
Cc: “Orozco, Arlene M” <arlene.orozco@ralphs.com>, “Reynolds, Kirk J” <kirk.reynolds@ralphs.com>, “Cupp, Rebecca L” <rebecca.cupp@ralphs.com>
Angie,
Based on your availability in April, May and now June, I am switching you to part time status. When your scheduling restrictions are lifted, we can consider switching you to full time status based on our staffing needs.
Also, I noticed that you have scheduled yourself off the entire week of Memorial Day (June 1-6). The priority to get a week off goes to people who have requested vacation time in advance. As such, I can’t guarantee that I can schedule you off for the whole week. We must make sure that we have met our business needs to keep stores staffed.
Thanks.
Rachel Hakakzadeh, Pharm.D.
Pharmacy Human Resources Specialist
Ralphs Grocery Company
Phone: (310) 884-2950
Fax: (310)884-2908
Email: rachel.abrishami@ralphs.com
NOTE: May 10th, 2010: Also, the document type of “Change of Status” was submitted. The Effective Date of “Part Time” Status was April 19th, 2010, One (1) Week after the first day returning from “Disability” i.e. April 12th, 2010.
HR Rachel reduced my work hours from Full Time to Part Time without either verbal or written notice, after returning to work from Two (2) Months of Disability. Rachel did not either mention or provide “Reasonable Accommodations” to me at all, instead she kept giving me a hard time on the regular basis.
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May 14th, 2010: Sent an e-mail to Rachel regarding less than 40 hours weekly work schedule for a while. I followed my doctor’s instruction to take a week off as stated in the attachment from May 31st to June 7th, 2010, however, I was willing to help her out by working on Sat, Sun and Mon: June 5th, 6th and 7th, 2010.
I don’t mean to create any difficulty for scheduling by sending you those N/A working days to you in advance. The reasons are as follows:
1) I am following my doctor’s instruction that I believe will help me regain my strength and get off several medications as soon as possible.
2) I prepared a couple days off in order to accommodate the availability for Mr.Kirk Reynolds and my Union Rep.to arrange a Grievance meeting.
3) I need to contact State of California, Division of Workers’ Compensation, Sedgwick CMS and several doctor offices to comply with the protocol for an injured worker.
4) Tuesday is my regular day off as you approved since the interview. The Stress Injury tremendously affected my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual balances, including my personal life and social life. I need to maintain my Tuesday off.
5) I rarely receive 3-week work schedules in advance as you mentioned during the interview.
Per your recent e-mail, you are switching me to a part time status. I respect you as an HR that supports and motivates injured employee (and who also interviewed and hired me) to be back to normal as soon as possible. I did not request to be on part time status. I need to cover the income lost from the past months. The State Disability checks were not adequate.
I will squeeze all of my appointments, as many as I can, in the rest of the month of June and will inform you as soon as possible. Finally, I can set the date for a QME exam on Wed. 6/9/10 at 12:30pm and I might need to take that day off. Kroger Policy on Retaliation
Kroger will not take any adverse action against any associate in retaliation for the proper and lawful reporting of improprieties; however, I feel my work stability has been much jeopardized. I believe I have been already punished a lot from write ups, suspending to work and changing my work
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status from a full-time status to a part-time status. Again, HR Rachel did not mention to change my working status in 2008.
October 14th, 2010: Received the second write up by PC Ernest under “Failure to Perform Job Duties at Ralphs 96”.
I self-reported a pharmacy incident on September 3, 2010. This was my first error in medication dispensed. I was singled out for this “write up” while similar individuals were treated differently.
This Grievance was protested by Union Local 770 letter dated on February 15th, 2011. May 6th, 2010 to October 25th, 2010: Waited for the result of the Suspension Grievance.
I am very positive for Union to arbitrate the merit of this written warning and anything further should it be required. The infractions interfere with Professional Rights and Pharmacists’ Responsibilities to the Public and the Pharmacy Profession. The last one really affects to Company’s Policies, Federal and State Laws. CVS Pharmacy, in an agreement with federal prosecutors, will pay $77.6 million in penalties and forfeiture due to its failure to ensure compliance with Pseudoephedrine (PSE) product sales limits. May 15th, 2010 to October 25th, 2010: Followed my Union Rep’s advice of having all appointments and treatments in those 2 regular days off and it would not conflict with my full-time schedule. October 26th, 2010: Attended the second Grievance Meeting with Eileen Alcala, my Union Rep, Cheryl Butler, a Union Rep and an ex Rite Aid pharmacist and Kirk Reynolds, a Ralphs Labor Relations.
Mr. Reynolds refused to look at a prepared written report. He stated one of the reasons for being a part-time employee because of several write ups. I had no problem when starting working in 2008 and requested to have a weekly 4-day work schedule for a few months. HR had never mentioned to change a work status to a part-time basis. Mr. Reynolds stated economy in 2010 was not good and why there was no need to hire more relief/floater pharmacists compared to those were hired in 2008. He advised to write a reinstatement letter to full-time status and I did in the same day.
I also asked Mr. Reynolds what the result of the suspension in the first Grievance Meeting on May 5th, 2010 was. However, he ignored my question by changing the topic and stated this meeting for the Grievance of Hours Reduced. I stated in this Grievance Meeting that HR Rachel Abrishami Hakakzadeh hired one Per Diem female Pharmacist, Naghmeh Abrishami. She has obtained her CA Pharmacist License either in July or August, 2010. Surprisingly, she had weekly 4 or 5 days work schedule as a Per Diem Position which cost the company more and I worked 3 days a week. A few weeks after my second grievance meeting, HR Rachel Abrishami Hakakzadeh easily gave this New Per Diem female Pharmacist, N. Abrishami a store as a full
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time staff pharmacist. Not only HR Rachel does not consider “Seniority”, but also she gives a hard time for a Ralphs Floater Pharmacist who requests to have a store, including me. November 11th, 2010: Worked with a new Full -Time Female Floater Pharmacist, Ju Hwa Kang, who told me she just got hired in October, 2010 and she would start her maternity leave on December 6th, 2010. Please review a statement of “Reinstatement” on page 19 of UFCW Local 770 Retail Food & Meat Agreement March 5, 2007 – March 6, 2011 for Albertsons, Ralphs, Vons.
“(b) A full-time employee, who has been reduced to part-time employment because of slackening of business or for medical reasons, must be offered the first (1st) full-time job that opens in the Company district in which he is currently employed, provided that his ability and skill equip him to fill that job.”
The statement does not mention anything about employees needing to file a Grievance. February 9th, 2011: Committee Meeting with Union Representatives at Union Local 770. February, 18th, 2011: I believe I am very patient to wait for and follow up the consequences of Suspension Grievance dated on 01/28/2010 by contacting my Union Representative on a weekly basis.
Finally, I received a Union Local 770 letter dated February 15th, 2011 on (Ralphs#0096/Grievance2010DEN045) dated on January 28th, 2010 states “The results of the investigation by your Union Representative indicate that you were reinstated with the company and there was no violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.” Again, being reinstated does not mitigate the original basis of the suspension.
I have never received any UFCW Local 770 letter regarding the result of my Grievance of Suspension since the year 2010 while the result of 1st write up on 8/10/2009 of it was issued without foundation was filed on 9/16/2009. I am very positive for Union to arbitrate the merit of this written warning and anything further should it be required. The first two infractions interfere with Professional Rights and Pharmacists’ Responsibilities to the Public and the Pharmacy Profession. The last one really affects to Company’s Policies, Federal and State Laws. CVS Pharmacy, in an agreement with federal prosecutors, will pay $77.6 million in penalties and forfeiture due to its failure to ensure compliance with Pseudoephedrine (PSE) product sales limits. The result should be “Union Local 770 do not agree with its content and find that it was issued without foundation” and Union Local 770 is ready to proceed to arbitration.
On the same day, I received another Union Local 770 letter dated on February 15th, 2011 on (Ralphs #0096/Grievance 2010EVE342) dated on July 30th, 2010 states “It was not filed within the time limits”. I am not aware of the time limit and you have never mentioned or
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advised me to do it during the time of waiting for the result of the first Grievance Meeting at Ralphs in Compton on May 5th, 2010.
I was of the understanding that I needed to have the results of the first Grievance Meeting (Suspension Grievance) before I can file another Grievance.
During my 3-day a week working schedules, I heard that a full time Food 4 Less female staff pharmacist had her 2 –day a week working schedule after the company shut down Food 4 Less pharmacies. Her Union Representative helped her get her full-time status back without going to any Grievance Meeting at the Corporate. I contacted Eileen immediately, she also asked me to find out who that Union Representative was. I found out and immediately informed Eileen who told me she would discuss with that Union Representative right away. That was the time I went to file another Grievance even though I did not hear anything back from my Suspension Grievance.
Again, the suspension caused me to be on “Disability” from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression and Insomnia”. That suspension also led me to have working hours reduction. HR Rachel hired new full time pharmacists without fully consideration of the statement of “Reinstatement”. March 17th, 2011: Attended Executive Board at Union Local 770.
I was very exhaustive, insulted and disappointed with this meeting. I, as a Union Member, felt that I completely got betrayal by Union Local 770 I respect and I regularly pay for my Union dues.
I did not expect for having more than 50 or 60 attendees in this meeting, therefore, I did not prepare enough folders of my presentation. I was told it was going to be “my day” at this meeting. The meeting was supposed to start at 11:30am, however, the time I was walking into the meeting almost 12:00pm. Eileen, my Union Representative told me before this meeting that it was her responsibility to make her presentation first, Then, I would fill up the important gaps/portions that she could miss in her presentation. Eileen did not give any presentation and she let me stay in an extremely awkward situation alone.
Not everyone in the meeting had reviewed my case thoroughly. If I was informed in advance that some Executive Board Members and Union Representatives needed to have lunch on time, I was pleased to postpone the meeting to be hold in the afternoon after everybody satisfied with his/her lunch. Since the beginning of the meeting, some of them showed disrespectful and impatient manners to my presentation. April 22nd, 2011: Union Pursue Arbitration
I received a letter stating that Union Local 770 Executive Board made decision to pursue arbitration for my case.
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Monday May 9th, 2011: Pharmacy Gates Ooened Before Business Hours at Ralphs 132 in Torrance
I discovered and reported open pharmacy gates, together with an unset alarm system. There was no any type of inspection on both Monday and Tuesday while I was a pharmacist on duty. THIS IS A VERY UNUSUAL INCIDENT. Tuesday May 10th, 2011: Performance Evaluation at Ralphs 132 in Torrance
It was past my legitimate lunch time, both HR Rachel and PC Peter refused my request for having my lunch prior to the meeting. I was very hungry and had to attend this First Performance Evaluation since I was hired in 2008. I felt the evaluation was very unfair and I wrote “signed without fully review, not allowed by HR Rachel” under my signature. I also checked “YES” on the question: “Do you have any complaints or incidents of unlawful harassment, discrimination or retaliation that you want to report?” May 11th, 2011: Angry Female Patient at Ralphs 31, in Sherman Oaks
This “Angry Female Patient” incident was originally caused by the male pharmacy manager, however, I was terminated. This male pharmacy manager, Dikron, did not follow Ralphs Pharmacy’s Quality Assurance Policy and Procedure Manual. Unfortunately, I just happened to be the floater Pharmacist on duty on that day when this irate female patient came back with a couple complaints for the pharmacy operations. This female had called Dikron before to complain of having only 90 tablets of one Brand Name medication inside a pharmacy vial instead of 100 tablets shown on the prescription label. Referred to Ralphs Pharmacy’s Quality Assurance Policy and Procedure Manual, the pharmacist on duty discovering or being informed of an error will have the responsibility of processing a Pharmacy Incident Report Form. Not only Dikron did not file the report, but he also inappropriately advised the patient to exchange that vial with another vial of 100 tablets. Dikron could have fixed this issue properly by simply filling another other 10 tablets as a balance of that prescription and contacting her to pick up this balance without any charge.
All 90 tablets she (the patient) counted had already been contaminated and could not be dispensed again. This is an unnecessary waste of company asset, especially with Brand Name medication. I treat every pill/drop of medication as valuable Company inventory. I also filed a Pharmacy Incident Report at the end of my closing shift.
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May 12th, 2011: Suspended Under Investigation Without An Assigned Period at Ralphs 219 in Encino
Again, it was past my legitimate lunch time, both Loss Prevention Alex and PC Kenneth refused my request for having my lunch prior to the meeting. I was also very hungry during the unfair meeting. Both of Alex and Kenneth pressured me to admit that I had accused that female patient of stealing. I insisted in front of them that this incident was primarily/originally caused by Dikron. Both of Alex and Kenneth obviously took the side of Dikron as a human error and considered me of having a poor customer service.
I protected company asset and I am always aware of the importance of Inventory Control (Shrink Policy). I did not want to get involved with anything missing in the pharmacy while on duty which could lead me to obtain another unexpected write up or suspension or termination. There were too many Ralphs Pharmacists and Pharmacy Staff got termination in the past several months. During this meeting I mentioned about the incident of Krystal, a female pharmacy technician overriding the prescription prices for her mother. Ralphs just terminated her recently after her non-stop same misconduct. Surprisingly, the Loss Prevention Officer Alex did not know anything about the initial incident of that immediately dismissal misconduct on April 3rd, 2009. It appeared that PC Kenneth and HR Rachel intended to protect Krystal, therefore, they had never reported her dismissal misconduct to Loss Prevention. Instead, Kenneth stated that he told Krystal not to repeat this misconduct. Why didn’t Ralphs Management ever deal with the initial incident I reported on April 7th, 2009? May 13th, 2011: Went on disability May 20th, 2011: Terminated At Ralphs 96 (Home Store) in Pasadena
I was very surprised and confused that I was fired on the very same day that I received a verbal notice from Eileen Alcala, my Union Representative, who was also on the phone with Ralphs Labor Relations Kirk on May 9th, 2011. Ralphs was willing to negotiate with me about all of my previous grievances because Ralphs did not want to go thru the arbitration process. Eileen had never told me earlier. May 25th to May 26th, 2011: Experienced Poor Pharmacy Customer Service At Two (2) Ralphs Pharmacies To Refill Legitimate Prescriptions
I sent my statements online to Ralphs Customer Service, however, I have not received any reply from Ralphs Pharmacy Management up to now. June 17th, 2011: 4 Weeks After Terminated
Tim, a Union Representative informed me Ralphs would not have a “Termination Grievance” Meeting while I was on “Disability”. I requested for a legitimate written document. Again, I have not received any reply from Ralphs Pharmacy Management up to now.
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August 25th, 2011: Attended Termination Grievance Meeting at Ralphs in Compton, CA.
Both Ralphs Management and Union Local 770 Representatives attempted to force me to admit that I accused an irate female customer of STEALING, that this was poor customer service, and the reason for my firing. They treated me like I was a “Criminal” who had to confess in front of policemen and detectives. My answer to this accusation is “NO.” I insisted that I be allowed to watch the original tape, which will show what happened. Surprisingly, Monica at Ralphs Labor Relations, who made her final decision to terminate my employment, did not obtain this tape. However, she said she would contact Alex at Ralphs Loss Prevention to make a copy of this tape.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Pharmaciststeve  •  Oct 14, 2013 @7:38 pm

    I live about 100 miles from Kroger’s national HQ.. and there seems to be a Kroger on every corner.. right now the street from the WAGS on the other corners.

    I have yet to meet a Kroger’s RPH that is happy with their work environment.

    Another issue of a Senior RPH… “rail-roaded” out the door and threw under the bus… because they are a Senior RPh and a younger/cheaper – more naive and flexible RPH is available.

  2. pharmacyslave2000  •  Oct 14, 2013 @8:41 pm

    I actually read through this entire thing. Two things stick out. First, there are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle lies the truth. It is virtually impossible to believe everything said here. I’m not saying it’s a lie but it is her version of the events. I’m sure you’d get a completely different version from those on the other side of the issue and neither story would be entirely true. That’s the problem with these stories. They’re skewed in the favor of the storyteller. Second, this person seemed to be very demanding as far as scheduling. I can say, from years of experience, as a floater you get the shit shifts. Always. You can’t bitch and moan and pick and choose. You get stuck in shitty stores with shitty employees. This person should have realized this after being a pharmacist for a number of years. It’s not a secret. Unless you have a signed contract stating your work schedule/stores/hours then you get what you get. I’m sorry but I can’t feel sorry for this person. You can’t believe ANYTHING you’re told by some asshole corporate employee, especially anyone in HR. You have to be responsible for yourself first and foremost.

  3. Pharmaciststeve  •  Oct 14, 2013 @8:59 pm

    There are THREE SIDES TO EVERY STORY

    YOURS… MINE… and the TRUTH !

  4. AJ  •  Oct 14, 2013 @10:15 pm

    I spent tne majority of my retail career with Kroger owned grocery stores. They suck just like all the rest of the corporate retail chains. Metric freaking crazy almost as bad as CVS and they treat thier employees like shit just like CVS. Key Retailing is all I have to say. Better make sure the Key Retailing chart gets filled out everyday. Oh and make sure the floor gets vacuumed on the assigned day or you will have a two hour meeting with the District Pharmacy Sup because the Store Manager told her you are not on “The Program”.

  5. broncofan7  •  Oct 14, 2013 @10:30 pm

    Wow. I had no clue that Kroger Pharmacy was so micromanaged. I know a PIC who left Savon/ Albertsons for Kroger and she tells me she loves it. It’s amazing what our profession has become:

    In Retail, silly metrics (and apparently house keeping duties)

    In Mail order if you aren’t hitting as many key strokes as the company minimum they call it “shrinkage” and make sure you don’t spend more than 5 minutes in the restroom unless you’re on lunch.

    Meanwhile, we there is PA center for a very large PBM offering $50/hr and they have over 300 applicants for 15 positions and have asked the head hunter companies to stop submitting resumes..many of which come from retail RPh’s willing to take a $10/hr paycut for a better working environment.

    This blog can be depressing.

  6. Cathy Lane RPh  •  Oct 14, 2013 @11:20 pm

    First, I must say as another pharmacist, I am very, very sorry that this pharmacist endured this beating for so long.

    She doesn’t mention how she wakes in the morning hurting all over from the parts of her body that never have relaxed, nor that spasms in stiff back of her neck go up into the crown of her head and is so tense and contracted sometimes it hurts to touch it when she combs her hair.

    She does not relate that she has had to go to the dentist several times in the last months for unexplained pains and aching in her jaw she thought were teeth were going to need to be extracted because of newly acquired bruxism and her nightmares consist of her teeth hardening to silver ingots and falling out of her mouth in her sleep because they’ve grown so loose in the sockets.

    The very worst part of this madness is that events go back and forward in short-term memory. She asks, “Did I add the whole 45 mLs of water to the child’s liquid antibiotic? Why does it look like half the water is still in the water dispenser? Why are there ten Percocet in the counting tray? Am I going crazy? Who else could understand these crazy working conditions?”

    This is the sort of professional dilemma the academic pharmacy professors discussed in the 1970s. One question Dr. Julian brought up, “As a professional, what will be your limit beyond which continuing to fill prescriptions will be unsafe for you to work?”

    As a woman?

  7. pharmacyslave2000  •  Oct 15, 2013 @1:43 pm

    Another observation. This happened to this person, for the most part, because she was A) a woman and B) of foreign descent. My guess is she was raised in a culture where women are meek and subservient. Her managers knew this and used it to bully her which, if this story is entirely true, is despicable. However, this is how retail pharmacy works. IF YOU DON’T STAND UP FOR YOURSELF, THIS IS WHAT YOU GET! Obviously, you must be smart about it or you’ll find yourself unemployed. Is it right that we as “professionals” have to play this game? Absolutely not, but that’s what has become of our profession. Take care of yourself. You owe no one. F your company. They’ll carry on without you. No need to destroy yourself for a job.

  8. wellilbe  •  Oct 15, 2013 @6:11 pm

    Jim, This needs to be modified immediately. There are customer names in her notes. Major Hippa violation. If they didn’t have reason to fire her before they do now.

  9. AJ  •  Oct 15, 2013 @7:32 pm

    It’s not a HIPAA violation. A HIPAA violation occurs when PHI (personal health information) is released. A customers name is not PHI.

  10. AJ  •  Oct 15, 2013 @7:34 pm

    Sorry…PHI is protected health information.

  11. AJ  •  Oct 15, 2013 @7:44 pm

    This pharmacist sounds like a train wreck. All I get out of this is how worthless a union is. Whole lot of good all the documentation did her. The bottom-line is if someone wants to fire you they are going to fire you. All a union does is make it a little harder and take a couple of months longer.

  12. Peter  •  Oct 15, 2013 @8:33 pm

    Can’t really feel too sorry. We all have a choice. And, as licensed professionals, we have options. It is an actual choice to work for ANY given chain/pharmacy. No one is forcing you. You have the option of going to work for another chain. Or for an independent. Or for yourself. But it seems that we all sacrifice job satisfaction (and health, and patient safety) for a steady paycheck. Even DrugMonkey opened his own pharmacy. He’s only been open for a few months and he’s already profitable. I tell my colleagues who complain about their jobs, students who fear for their future and everyone else – OPEN YOUR OWN PHARMACY. But we all act like scared little babies. We want EVERYTHING. Great pay, great benefits, perfect working conditions, nice patients, excellent tech support, stress-free workplace. AND we want to be well-paid to work in this environment. That is not going to happen UNLESS you open your own practice or find a super indie to work for. We have a large chain in Canada called Shoppers Drug Mart. The current business model for pharmacists wanting to open a pharmacy. Go visit the local Shoppers. Check out 3-5 of them in the area. Find the WORST ONE (poor service, unhappy staff, pissed off patients) and open a pharmacy RIGHT ACROSS the street. Patient’s come over in droves. Within 3 years, you have a real nice practice. You’re not making millions, but you’re taking a full salary, debts are getting cleared and you’re building equity in a business. In 5 years – all debts are paid, generating profits, hire second pharmacist and work fewer hours. Year 10 – sell the practice to … Shoppers Drug Mart. They’re paying an 8 multiple now to by up pharmacies. Enough complaining! More action!

  13. broncofan7  •  Oct 15, 2013 @9:52 pm

    Peter,
    I am curious how ownership is in Canada with the government setting reimbursement rates for Pharmacies. Do you have any CASH (private payers)? and what is the typical gross margin on sales in Canada. In the USA it’s been 21-23% for the last decade (for example $2.5 million in sales, your gross profit is ~$525-575K)

    And for the Pharmacists who are not owners; it’s the GROSS margin that matters (it’s sales MINUS cost of goods (COGs=DRUGS)most.

    NET margin is what you as the owner take home after ALL expenses are paid, and for tax liability reasons you want your net profit as close to Z-E-R-O as possible.

    Peter,
    That model you mention (find the busiest store in town, with the worst customer service and longest wait times) is something that I pursued in a few locations already. However stores like Walmart, Kroger etc. often have LEASE restrictions as the center piece of a shopping strip that forbids the landlord in allowing for a Pharmacy to be placed in or near the same shopping strip as Walmart, Target, Kroger etc…….are there any such restrictions in Canada? I appreciate your feedback….BF7

  14. Peter  •  Oct 16, 2013 @6:51 am

    @ Broncofan7. Government impact on prescriptions varies by province. In Ontario, they only set fee and drug mark-up on Rx’s for senior, those on Welfare or disability. That’s about 60% of Rx’s. The rest is private insurance and cash Rx’s. Cash Rx’s make up about 10% of Rx’s.

    Gross profit depends on the type of pharmacy you are. If you’re a regular pharmacy, gross profit runs at about 35%. In a nursing home pharmacy, it runs at closer to 45% (but $ per Rx is smaller).

    There are 3 sources of Rx revenue in Canada – dispensing fee, drug mark-up and generic revenues. Disp fees make up at least of 50-60% of gross profit. Drug mark-up makes up about 20-25% of profit and generic revenues another 25%. But as the government squeezes down the generic price, generic revenues shrink. We now have clinical revenues in various provinces. In my practice, clinical revenues make up about 20% of operating revenues.

    Yes, restriction on other pharmacies exist, but only within the plaza or mall they’re located. That doesn’t stop you from opening across the street. Some older chain pharmacies DON”T have that stipulation and I’ve seen some independents pop-up virtually next door to a shitty chain pharmacy and they do VERY well.

    I’ll use myself as an example. I opened almost 5 years ago. No business experience, poorly financed. I have zero business debt. The pharmacy would be quite profitable, however, is spend more on pharmacist staff so that I can spend some time with my kids (7 and 8 years old). I put in about 32 hours per week (including all business stuff), draw a full RPh salary and the pharmacy still generates a small profit. Owning my own practice has allowed me to make the choice to sacrifice profits for family time. Not a choice most people make, but one I felt was right.

  15. broncofan7  •  Oct 16, 2013 @8:41 am

    Thanks for the info Peter. Shoot me an email sometime broncofan7@ymail.com. I’d love to pick your brain in a lot more detail….BF7

  16. wellilbe  •  Oct 16, 2013 @9:23 pm

    AJ- It is protected health information. The dates of birth were included and the fact that they had prescriptions filled at a specific pharmacy and the names of the medication. Its all PHI in this context.

  17. Pharmaciststeve  •  Oct 16, 2013 @10:50 pm

    Chain Drug Stores Are Dangerous: How Their Reckless Obsession With the Bottom Line Places You At Risk for Serious Harm or Death
    http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=4452

    Dennis Miller strikes again… after taking 20 + years to write is first book .. a whopping 753 pages.. about the size of WAR & PEACE

  18. Jason DeVillains  •  Oct 17, 2013 @12:14 pm

    “Both HR and PC are also California Licensed Pharmacists”

  19. Broncofan7  •  Oct 19, 2013 @5:51 pm

    Ladies and gentlemen, after corresponding with Peter it’s clear to me that Canada’s AQ plus drug reimbursement model is FAR superior in supporting the profession of Pharmacy and it’s something I plan on taking to the TPA…..Canada’s drug spend per person is much less than in the USA AND the pharmacies are reimbursed much more consistently with a FAIR market reimbursement capable of sustaining the profession in the community. Quite frankly canada values community pharmacists more than the corporatists that run pharmacy in America do.

  20. AJ  •  Oct 20, 2013 @4:05 pm

    A couple minor points of difference between Canada and the USA broncofan7. Canada has government price controls on pharmaceutical manufacturers and the Canadian government acts exactly like the PBMs you so despise here in the good ‘ole USA. Do some more research your way of the mark.
    .
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11585186
    .
    “Governments in Canada have instituted mechanisms intended to control drug prices. These include the establishment of a semi-judicial body by the federal government to control factory-gate prices and of various measures at the provincial level, such as formulary management, use of generics, reference-based pricing, price freezes, and limits on markups. To a large extent, these measures have been effective in price control. Total drug spending in the country continues to rise, however; clearly, mechanisms other than price controls will need to be developed if drug spending is to be better managed.”

  21. AJ  •  Oct 20, 2013 @4:16 pm

    Way off the mark…

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/07/us-canada-pharmacies-idUSBRE8860X220120907

    “(Reuters) – Country-wide budget cuts could squeeze margins at Canadian pharmacies for years to come as austerity-focused provincial governments seek to rein in spending on prescription drugs.”
    .
    .
    Hmmmmmm, this sounds familiar…
    .
    “…suppliers offered pharmacies incentive payments in the form of rebates or “professional allowances” as they competed for shelf space. Pharmacies had little reason to pass on those savings, because patients, often covered by insurance, rarely shopped around.”

  22. Broncofan7  •  Oct 20, 2013 @11:42 pm

    It’s become readily apparent to those of us who ACTUALLY OWN A PHARMACY AND RUN OUR OWN BUSINESS that you have absolutely no god damn idea what you’re posting about.

  23. YoungGun  •  Oct 21, 2013 @12:52 am

    What did you expect Broncofan7? PBM pencil pusher who probably hasn’t looked into the eyes of a patient in 30 years. When I read his quotes claiming pharmacy owes everything to the PBMs I’m reminded of a certain politician who said “You didn’t build that”.

  24. AJ  •  Oct 21, 2013 @7:31 am

    Ummmmmm..broncoidiot7 I posted an article from Reuters and a study conducted by the Institute of Health Economics and The University of Alberta, Edmonton. Have you been living under a rock or does the news not make it out to West Texas? The Canadian pharmacy problems are old news. Pertinent news though because it’s a preview of what US pharmacists will be facing now that the government is fully committed to screwing up healthcare.
    .
    .
    It has nothing to do with owning or running a business…it has everything to do with paying attention and reading comprehension. Try it sometime. You will be amazed at the results! Oh wait! Independent pharmacy is going to save the day said no one but you and a hand full of other idiots that have their head up their ass! Paying attention, reading comprehension and intelligence obviously have no place in your world.

  25. AJ  •  Oct 21, 2013 @7:53 am

    Yeah, modeling Canada is a great idea! Government meddling in healthcare…reductions in reimbursement…all sounds bad to me. I guess if I were a genius like broncoidiot7 and owned my own business all that would be good news?
    .
    http://drugstorenews.com/article/generic-drug-reimbursement-cuts-draw-anger-controversy-canada
    .
    Generic drug reimbursement cuts draw anger, controversy in Canada – May 2013
    .
    “Retail or reimbursed prices of generic prescription drugs have been dramatically reduced across Canada over the past few years,” said Jim Keon, president of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association.
    .
    The campaign is nationwide and unrelenting. Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec opted to cut generic prescription payments to 25% of the branded equivalent price, beginning April 1; British Columbia legislators pegged another reduction, to 20% of the brand-name cost, to take effect in April 2014. Last June, New Brunswick reduced generic prices to 40% of the branded price, and followed up with another reduction, to 35%, in December 2012.”

  26. AJ  •  Oct 21, 2013 @8:23 am

    PBM pencil pusher? As opposed to what YoungGun? You who pushes pills across a counting tray 5 at a time? Or better yet if you work for a corporate retail chain, you who gets to match the picture on a computer screen with the pill a tech put in a vial. My two year old is really good at matching pictures up. To think you get paid 100k plus a year to do the same thing is amazing!
    .
    If standing in a pharmacy making sure a picture on a computer screen matches a pill in a vial while bypassing all the DUR screens as fast as you can without reading them is practicing pharmacy then…
    .
    Brushing my teeth is practicing Dentistry.
    .
    Giving my dog a bath makes me a Veterinarian.
    .
    Walking around an auto shop with a wrench in my hand makes me a mechanic.
    .
    Traveling on an airplane makes me a pilot.
    .
    Fishing in the neighborhood pond with my son’s Spiderman fishing pole makes me a professional Bass fisherman.

  27. Peter  •  Oct 21, 2013 @6:04 pm

    Wow, has this conversation ever degenerated. To make things clear:
    1) Pharmacy reimbursement was ridiculously good 10 years ago. By ridiculously good, you could make a very good living on only 50 Rx’s per day. That means full pharmacists salary AND profits left over.
    2) Pharmacy reimbursement was very good 5 years ago. You could still make a very good living on only 50 Rx per day, because a higher percentage of the Rx’s were generic.
    3) Pharmacy reimbursement is fair right now. You can make a good living if you rent is decent, you fill 100-120 Rx’s per day and you provide a few clinical services (medication reviews per day). You can make a full pharmacists salary and have some profit left over.
    At 100-120 Rx’s per day, it a good pace so that you can take the time to talk to patients, provide great care and excellent service and enjoy your day. In a 9 hour day, you would spend about 6 of them checking Rx’s and counseling, 1 hour in clinical consults, 1 hour doing your “business paperwork, a nice 1/2 hour lunch and a few breaks throughout the day.
    Notice: no time was spent talking to insurance companies.

    My biggest worry today: how to effectively anticoagulate 1 patient with chronic ischemic colitis and a new PE, without making his rectal bleeding worse. Oh, and he says he’s broke. My other patient ALSO has ulcerative colitis, had a clot in his heart 6 months ago and a new non-cardiogenic stroke while on ASA. His specialist sent him to me for a consult on what to do regarding anticoagulation. I have the luxury to research the crap out of this incredibly challenging situation.

    Having worked community pharmacy on BOTH sides of the border, I will say loud and clear: 1) independent pharmacy ownership is not dead (still viable) in the US. However, the volumes you have to hit to generate profit are about double those of Canada 2) Community pharmacy in Canada CAN be (but not always) incredibly rewarding with lots of opportunity to actually practice pharmacy as it was intended.

  28. RalPh  •  Oct 22, 2013 @4:45 am

    Kroger just sent an email out asking for info on the professional organizations or activism each pharmacist is involved in. Fishy.

    Also, I just spoke to an intern who went to our state pharmacy association conference. When I asked her if she could name one thing they talked about that directly helps pharmacists themselves, she looked blankly at me. Sad. But they did talk about pet meds and that was “really helpful.”. REALLY SAD. Pharmacy’s future is in peril.

  29. AJ  •  Oct 22, 2013 @9:00 pm

    Woo! Hoo! I drove really fast down the highway today…that means I’m a race car driver!

  30. bcmigal  •  Oct 24, 2013 @6:46 pm

    Peter, I think I would sell my soul to have a nine hour day like the one you described. My last one (a Saturday) consisted of no breaks, about 15 minutes for lunch, 12 flu shots, 120 rxs, paging 2 doctors,calling the ER twice for incomplete sigs, and calling 3 insurance companies (2 for emergency overrides on drugs that required a prior auth). Oh, and emptying the trash and taking out the recycle. And, yes, I still had to match the image on the computer to the markings on the pill while attempting to keep the “queues” from going in the red.
    If you own your own place, good for you.

  31. Peon  •  Oct 25, 2013 @7:10 pm

    The lady pharmacist has a number of assumptions that are not compatible with todays pharmacy environment. She assumes that hard work, dedication to the company, doing the right thing, and being a good employee is valued by the company. The company only sees her complaints, not her actual work environment. If no one else is complaining, then what do you think they notice? They notice a complaining, troublesome employee. How hard she works and how wonderful her work ethic means nothing. It took me a number of years to learn that whining about things to my company was a waste of time and was going to lead them to labeling me a trouble maker. These companies have become so large that the people at the top only see numbers. They do not see people. Any individual employee is nothing to the company. They can quickly dispose of the employee and get another one. Complaining about the company being unfair or the way they treat you is another waste of time. This is the world in which pharmacy exists today.

  32. bcmigal  •  Oct 25, 2013 @9:54 pm

    Peon, you are right on. Complaining about policies, procedures, or the insane workload with an almost none existent support staff is truly an exercise in futility. We are no more valued than a chewed up piece of gum. We can be spit out and stepped on in a nanosecond. It is disturbing to me that this is now a “normal” occurrence.

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