Last locally-owned pharmacy in Ottawa will close –

By | March 12, 2020

Residents who avoid the big box pharmacies in Ottawa have been left without an alternative.

The Pharmacy Stop at 113 W Michigan St. as well as its second location on East Norris Drive is closing. Its final day is Friday, March 20.

Pharmacy staff was busy most of Tuesday servicing customers who came in to pick up their prescriptions and say thanks for 25 years of business.

Kevin and Pam Freese of Grand Ridge were two of those visitors who were saddened by the news.

“I mean, in a way it’s disappointing. We don’t want to go to CVS or Walmart,” Pam said.

The pair started coming to The Pharmacy Stop since Medi-Rx Pharmacy closed on Main Street in 2018 and started going to Medi-Rx pharmacy after an earlier locally-owned pharmacy closed.

“Because we wanted to go to a small pharmacy. That’s what we wanted to do,” Kevin said.

The two have made it an effort to support local businesses and returned to The Pharmacy Stop for its “top-notch” service but now likely will visit CVS Pharmacy where the prescriptions of The Pharmacy Stop will be transferred. They’ve also appreciated The Pharmacy Stop’s ability to deliver to those who needed assistance.

The Pharmacy Stop Owner John Groesbeck has heard similar compliments from customers after making the announcement of the closure and he’s appreciated the dedication to supporting local pharmacies over the years.

“People are a little upset, they’re sympathetic, but going to miss us,” Groesbeck said.

As far as the reason for the closure, it’s not unlike the same reasons given by other pharmacy closures in recent years.

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“Mostly it’s just with the current marketplace and pharmacies, it’s a really challenging environment reimbursement wise. Some of the issues with the state slashing reimbursement makes things really difficult,” Groesbeck said.

Ottawa has lost three independent, local pharmacies within two years with Ottawa Health Mart and Medi-Rx Pharmacy closing in July 2018.

Both businesses cited poor health care marketing conditions and reimbursement rates from insurance companies as making business difficult.

Streator Drugs also closed in 2019 and former co-owner Julie Ramza, who co-owned the pharmacy with Groesbeck, also identified changes on the state level under former Gov. Bruce Rauner from changing public aid to managed care, which reduced reimbursement to pharmacies as a major factor in the pharmacy’s closure.

Groesbeck said regardless he’s appreciated the support of the community over the years.

“I appreciate the loyalty from the community of Ottawa over the years and we’re going to miss everybody,” he said.

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