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You’ve heard of food deserts. Pharmacy deserts are just as bad.

9 Aug 2022 1:21 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

Monica Mitchell has lived in South Shore for two decades, and in that time, she’s had to change pharmacies three times.

The 48-year-old registered nurse said when a Walgreens five minutes from her house was closed, she switched to one a few blocks over, but it didn’t carry all the items she needed. So she started going to one in Hyde Park.

Then came the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in the summer of 2020, which sparked days of protests, civil unrest and looting across the city and the nation.

In the aftermath, hundreds of businesses in Chicago shut their doors either temporarily or permanently, including many pharmacies, and Mitchell was forced to change drugstores once again. By then, the closest Walgreens was in southwest suburban Evergreen Park, 30 minutes away.

While Mitchell now gets most of what she needs via mail order, that convenience is not widely used by those who are more comfortable with brick-and-mortar stores or lack internet access, she said.

A few miles southwest of Mitchell, 68-year-old Renita Johnson said over the decades she has lived in Roseland, she has seen a number of nearby pharmacies close.

She can’t imagine how her older neighbors without cars and limited mobility even get to a drugstore these days.

“I would see it as a total nightmare,” she said.

The experiences of the two women are not unusual in many parts of Chicago.

Even as drugstores are providing more vital services — including COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, contraceptive counseling and wellness visits — a recent study shows communities on the city’s South and West sides have fewer pharmacy locations than other parts of the city. More>

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