POCATELLO — Local pharmacists said the closure of the U.S. Postal Service processing and distribution center on Flandro Drive has caused delayed delivery of medication for people in outlying counties.
Lorri Shaver, the pharmacy manager at Shaver Pharmacy, said deliveries that used to take two days now take twice as long.
“One patient came in on Aug. 11, and his medication had been mailed on Aug. 6,” Shaver said. “We checked the tracking code, and it had bypassed Salt Lake City and been sent to the processing center in Denver.”
Shaver said that for some medications, doctors will only prescribe a one-month supply, and there are restrictions about how early some prescriptions can be refilled.
“People just really have to plan ahead,” Shaver said.
Medication that requires refrigeration is shipped by FedEx for a fee of $9.50.
Roger Murphy, pharmacy manager at Ed Snell’s Pharmacy, said his patrons are also reporting late deliveries.
Murphy said patients in rural areas are dependent on the mail to get their medicine.
“In a lot of these areas, there is no pharmacy,” Murphy said.
Ed Snell mails medication for free, and Murphy said some people can’t afford the added cost of shipping.
Murphy also encouraged patients who get medicine by mail to plan ahead.
“If it’s not a controlled substance, sometimes we can fill it a couple of days early,” Murphy said.
The pharmacy can also package prescriptions in one-week or one-month blister packets.
The USPS closed the mail processing operation in Pocatello — along with 81 others in the nation — on April 18 to save an estimated $750 million.
USPS consolidated operations in Salt Lake City.
Regional spokesman Brian Sperry said some operations are still taking place at the Flandro center — there is a bulk mail drop and a post office still in operation.
Sperry said in an email, “The Postal Service is working hard to deliver the best possible service for all customers. If individuals are having a particular service issue, they should contact the Postal Service either by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS or visit us on our website at usps.com/help. The Postal Service will continue to work with customers to ensure their mail arrives at its destination as quickly as possible. Our goal is always to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.”
Mayors Brian Blad of Pocatello and Kevin England from Chubbuck, requested that Idaho’s congressional representatives introduce federal legislation to delay the closing of the processing center.
Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and congressman Mike Simpson signed a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General asking to keep the Pocatello center open.
The Postal Regulatory Commission reports that as of February 2015, USPS had an operating profit of $1.325 billion.