Cambria Village Pharmacy closes amid 'financial perfect storm,' owner says

ktanner@thetribunenews.comJune 18, 2012 

Health Plus Pharmacy of San Luis Obispo is facing some challenging financial pressures — prompting owner Dana Nelson to close his pharmacy in Cambria, which he has owned since 1996.

Cambria Village Pharmacy, at 2306 Main St., abruptly closed its doors Saturday afternoon — affecting customers, patients, 10 employees and some fill-in part-timers. At least some had no advance notice of the closure.

A sign on the door of the store — which was also known for its vast array of rubber ducks — advises customers that “Effective immediately, Cambria Village Pharmacy will no longer be in business” and that their records and prescription orders had been transferred to Cambria Drug & Gift, 2222 Main St.

Health Plus in San Luis Obispo remains open.

Pharmacist-owner Nelson said that the “good ship Health Plus’’ has been hit by a perfect financial storm, leaving the pharmacy briefly compromised in its ability to serve the public. That storm includes “the prices of drugs going up, payment (from insurers and Medicare) going down,” and some cash-strapped patients trying to save money by ordering online or from out of the country, he said.

“As more and more people go off or lose their insurance benefits, fewer people are getting their prescriptions filled,” Nelson noted, which can leave a small pharmacy in the lurch when competing against corporate pharmacies in stores such as Walmart, CVS and Costco.

Nelson said he tried to sell the Cambria store and had four or five strong prospective buyers, but none was able to get financing.

At this point, he added, “We believe we’ve survived the worst of the storm, but we’re not in calm seas yet,” he said. He said he’s hopeful that Health Plus can survive, and that the closure of Cambria Village Pharmacy was “the sacrifice we had to make to see if we can keep this one going. … We’ll know more in three to six months.”

Nelson is asking customers to order their prescription refills four to five days before they run out of the medication.

Nelson is also going through a divorce, which has “taken its toll financially and spiritually,” he said.

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