WALDOBORO, Maine — A family whose pharmacies have sold medications to patients across the midcoast for more than 50 years has made its withdrawal from the retail market complete with the sale of its last store.
Employees at Waltz Pharmacy in downtown Waldoboro were told Monday that Nov. 17 will be the last day of operation before the business is sold to Rite Aid.
Dean Jacobs, who owned the pharmacy, said Friday that his family has been withdrawing from the retail market for years, a process which intensified last fall when his parents, Winton and Jo-Ann Jacobs, retired at near age 80 and closed Waltz’s Damariscotta location. They’d worked there side-by-side for more than five decades. At its height, there were nine retail pharmacies in the midcoast region bearing the Waltz name.
Jacobs, who with business partner Courtney Oland, has created Waltz Long Term Pharmacy in Brunswick, which sells prescriptions exclusively to patients in nursing homes or other residential facilities, said many factors contributed to the closure of the Waldoboro store and the others.
One reason is that an abundance of brand-name drugs, such as Lipitor, are about to enter the generic market, which in the long term means lower profits for pharmacies everywhere. Another reason is continued reductions in prescription reimbursements from the MaineCare program, which is Maine’s version of Medicaid.
Jacobs said he hired a consultant in an effort to sell the pharmacy to an independent buyer, but there were no takers. One factor he hopes softens the blow of Waldoboro’s only pharmacy closing is that Rite Aid has agreed to make deliveries to the Waldoboro region and to import Waltz’s prescription records at its Damariscotta location so the changeover will be easy for customers.
Theodore Wooster, a pharmacist for the Jacobs whose family bought the Waldoboro pharmacy from a World War I veteran in 1951, said he personally owned and ran that store for 27 years. Wooster sold the pharmacy to the Jacobs family about 12 years ago.
Wooster said he laments that a pharmacy that has been in operation for more than a century in the same location is closing, but he blamed it on changes in the health care system that are squeezing independent pharmacies out of the drug industry. Wooster said some of the employees have been offered jobs with Rite Aid, but that “there’s little enthusiasm here for that.”
A group of local citizens are trying to find an independent operator to reopen a pharmacy in Waldoboro.
William Najpauer, the town’s planning and development director, said in a press release that he is optimistic that Waldoboro’s size, location and income levels will attract a pharmacy operator. He urged those seeking information to call him at 832-5369 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jacobs said closure of the retail stores brings up lots of memories, such as when he and his sister used to stuff envelopes with statements at night while his mother did the bookkeeping. He has family pictures of her working behind the soda fountain in Damariscotta when she was 16 years old.
“Waldoboro was the first pharmacy my grandfather ever worked in,” said Jacobs. “We certainly are grateful to the residents of Waldoboro for the time we were serving them. But our legacy lives on through this long-term care pharmacy. We are serving thousands of nursing home residents between Bangor and New Hampshire from what grew out of this family business.”