Everett Clinic sells two pharmacies, closes a third

The Everett Clinic, which first added a pharmacy to its main campus in 1963, has sold two of its pharmacies to Bartell Drugs and closed its third pharmacy at Harbour Pointe.

It’s the latest example of independent pharmacies being bought up by larger chains.

Bartell’s will take over on June 10 at the Everett Clinic pharmacies at its Marysville clinic and the downtown Everett campus on Hoyt Avenue.

The Harbour Pointe pharmacy was closed May 16, said Mark Mantei, The Everett Clinic’s chief operating officer.

It’s difficult for small, independent pharmacies to complete economically, Mantei said.

“It was not our core businesses,” he said. “The way the industry has gone, you’ve got to be big.”

The clinic considered a number of different business proposals, but ultimately decided that Bartell’s, a local company, was the best option, Mantei said.

The Everett Clinic has 295,000 patients.

Mantei declined to comment on whether the pharmacies had been losing money. “I think it was a variety of things in terms of the economy, and the fact we didn’t have locations closer to people’s homes, (which) really didn’t make it viable,” he said.

Of the 28 employees who worked at the pharmacies, one employee took another job at the clinic, one retired, and all others except one have either been offered or accepted positions at Bartells, said April Zepeda, spokeswoman for The Everett Clinic.

Employees were told in October that a change in ownership might occur, Mantei said.

The records for patients who have had their prescriptions filled at the clinic’s pharmacies will automatically be transferred to Bartell’s. “They’re going to see the same faces at the pharmacy,” he said.

Bartell’s will lease the space of the two pharmacies. The sale price was not disclosed.

Bartell Drugs owns and operates 60 stores in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.

In Snohomish County, the number of medical clinics that operate pharmacies is dwindling.

Group Health has pharmacies at its medical centers in Everett and Lynnwood.

The former Hadfield’s Pharmacy, now called Pavilion Pharmacy, is part of the Swedish/Edmonds campus.

Providence Medical Group has pharmacies at its offices in Mill Creek and Monroe. Providence Regional Medical Center Everett has a pharmacy on its Colby campus.

When Providence opens its new $22 million clinic in Monroe in October, it will include a 900-square foot pharmacy, said Eric Werttemberger, director of pharmacies for Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

Pharmacies share a similar business rule with real estate. Location is key to success, he said.

The current pharmacy at its Monroe clinic is easy to miss, depending on where you enter the building, he said.

The pharmacy in the new clinic will be right off the lobby. “Location is paramount to your prescription volumes,” he said. “It’s a pretty narrow margin business.”

To survive, independent pharmacies need to have a niche or special location to succeed, he said.

Now, a lot of prescriptions are ordered by mail or filled by machines. Many pharmacies are owned by chains. All these factors continue to drive down what pharmacies are being paid to dispense prescriptions, Werttemberger said.

“It’s not like it was 30 years ago,” he said. “It’s a completely different world.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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