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CVS closing downtown Hagerstown store

December 02, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- CVS is closing its 60 W. Washington St. branch next month, leaving the heart of downtown Hagerstown without a drugstore.

CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said the closure is a business decision, unconnected to the current economy.

The store, one of the smallest of seven CVS branches in the Hagerstown area, will shut down Jan. 3, DeAngelis said.

The five employees will be transferred to other branches.

All pharmacy accounts will be moved to the CVS store on North Cannon Avenue.

The news surprised officials with the Washington County Commission on Aging, who called the CVS store a convenient downtown anchor.

Susan J. MacDonald, the commission's executive director, said the loss of the local store would be "a significant hardship" for people who rely on a pharmacy within walking distance.

One walker is James M. Witt, who lives at the Dagmar Hotel on Summit Avenue. He was using a cane on Tuesday, which he said he needed because he has a bad hip.

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Witt said he doesn't have any prescriptions now, but will in the future. When he needs to get one filled, he said, he'll have to rely on his daughter in Falling Waters, W.Va., who sometimes drives him places.

The CVS branch on North Cannon Avenue is about a half-mile away. Russo's Rx Pharmacy is on the same block. To get there, it's an uphill walk along Washington Street east of Potomac Street.

MacDonald said she believes several thousand people at least 60 years old live in the downtown area. Many are in Alexander House, Elizabeth Court, Potomac Towers, and other places that house senior citizens and people with disabilities.

"I know it's going to be a major impact to the ones that live there," Hagerstown Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said.

At a program on Medicare Part D at Washington County Free Library on Tuesday, part of the discussion was about people saving money on prescription medicines by going to a larger chain store, said Elizabeth Church, a social worker for the Commission on Aging.

However, one woman said the cost of bus fare probably would offset the savings, Church said.

Nigh said before it was a CVS, the West Washington Street store was part of the Revco drugstore chain.

Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation records show the owner as Revco Discount Drug Centers Inc., with a mailing address at CVS's headquarters in Woonsocket, R.I.

The 9,840-square-foot building was built in 1920, records show.

Witt said he didn't understand the decision to close the downtown CVS; the pharmacist always seemed busy.

Katrina Eversole, a health insurance advocate for the Commission on Aging, said the pharmacist, Henry Hughes, often went out of his way to help customers.

Mary Haines of Hagerstown called CVS' decision "a major slap in the face to the community" because of its importance to the downtown.

She pointed out that some local pharmacies deliver medicine.

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