Don't close Rutgers pharmacies!
Don't close Rutgers pharmacies!
My name is Chloe Andreas, and I am currently a sophomore at Rutgers-New Brunswick. A few days ago, the New Brunswick campus announced that their three on-campus pharmacies will be closing later this semester, Fall 2019. This is troublesome for many reasons, as the pharmacies offer many products to students and local residents alike. Some of these products include discounted name-brand condoms, Plan-B emergency contraceptive for $15, cold and flu medicine, menstrual care, pain medication, and hygiene essentials such as soap, shampoo, face wash, and lotion. These items are just a small selection of what I have found at one of the three pharmacies on campus.
They claim that the demand for more mental health clinics on campus is the cause for these sudden layoffs and closures of not one or two, but THREE pharmacies. Being a student at Rutgers and a patient of the mental health clinics, I do agree that they are understaffed. Despite Rutgers-New Brunswick enrolling over 40,000 students and having the luxury of taxpayer money, they somehow cannot afford both? Even if they cannot afford more therapists and all three pharmacies, can they not keep one or two of them open? All we are asking is to have access to a pharmacy under Rutgers's control that can provide the care and discounts college students would appreciate. Without this convenience, imagine what will happen. Without access to affordable condoms or even ANY condoms, unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are to be expected. Without access to affordable emergency contraception, unplanned pregnancies can become abortions, complications, miscarriages, or births. Without access to pain medicine, students may become overwhelmed with pain from injuries, menstruation, muscle pain, and more. Without access to cold and flu medicine, these illnesses will be passed all around - especially at a university where cramped buses are the primary means of transportation.
Their idea for the new "pharmacy" is to have mailed-in prescriptions after providing initial doses in the health center. This is already a problem; after one of my visits at one of the health centers last year, I was instructed to take a combination of prescriptions and Mucinex-D, an over-the-counter (OTC) cold medicine. I was able to walk down the hall from my doctor’s office into the pharmacy to purchase the whole grocery list I was given by my doctor. If these new “pharmacies” only carry prescriptions, where will I get OTC items such as Mucinex-D? Returning to the concept of the new “pharmacies,” other prescriptions will be transferred to local pharmacies. For a large portion of Rutgers students, however, what is "local?" If they are referring to the Rite Aid on George Street, how accessible is that for students on Busch and Livingston? I have been on George Street at different hours, and I haven't always felt safe. Am I supposed to walk on a sketchy street where I am not as protected like I was on Rutgers campus going to Hurtado Pharmacy? I'm a 125-pound girl, and I do not feel comfortable going into an unmonitored part of New Brunswick at an unknown time. Without the on-campus pharmacies, I would be forced to take this unsafe trip into the city to buy my feminine products. If I'm only available to take a trip to center city New Brunswick at 7pm, then I guess I would have to go into the city at 7pm, possibly after sunset. Even if this became reality, I would not be able to afford a franchise pharmacy's prices. Plan-B costs $50, a 12-pack of condoms is $15 instead of $4.50 at on-campus pharmacies.
I want something to be made clear: Sexual health and mental health never should be traded. One is not more valuable or necessary than the other. They cannot be bargained. Our overall health is nonnegotiable, and no one should have the power to take away resources that we need. Also, more than just prescriptions are found at these pharmacies. Sexual health products and general health products are necessities in life, and closing the pharmacies denies us the right to these items. All humans deserve access to items like ibuprofen, allergy medication, and DayQuil; without the pharmacies, many students will lose access to these necessities. Sometimes, OTC medications are the only options for students. Benadryl, DayQuil, Mucinex - this was my holy trinity during freshman year when allergy season came around. Without your pharmacies, students lose these iconic items and so much more.
Melodee Lasky, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Health and Wellness - the students of Rutgers-New Brunswick ask you to reevaluate your decision. You may claim that the quality of care will not decrease during these closures, but I hope I have made you see how more than just prescriptions are being affected. The repercussions of this choice are foreseeable, and we believe the consequences outweigh the benefits. If you cannot afford to keep all three pharmacies open, please consider keeping at least one of them open. We, the students, need to know that Rutgers cares about our wellbeing.
What are we paying for in our tuition if our health and wellness isn't being covered?