CVS Pharmacist Refuses to Mask Despite Plea from Cancer Patient (me)


I went to CVS store #5372 in Patchogue, Long Island, at 503 East Main St. (631-758-6137), to pick-up medicine prescribed by my oncologist in preparation for two surgical procedures at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center in Manhattan, to ready my body for multiple cancer treatments in Commack, New York. All treatments are contingent on me remaining Covid-free. I have been in virtual seclusion for about five months. I was stunned to discover the pharmacist, a store clerk re-stocking shelves four feet from me, and two customers were not wearing masks. I asked why. “Too hot!” the clerk said. The pharmacist ignored me. The clerk eventually put on a mask, but not covering her mouth or nose.

Stuck there, between two mask-less employees, four feet away from the clerk and ten feet away from the pharmacist. I shouted, “I have cancer. Look! I can’t leave this line! I am buying pre-op stuff for my first surgery. You can see my RX from my oncologist. Please wear a mask! If I am Covid19-positive, they won’t treat me!” The pharmacist said, “The mask is hot. Can’t you see I am very busy!” She never put on a mask and kept filling prescriptions. She was also not socially distanced from her colleagues: the drive-up window attendant, the assistants handing her numerous bottles of medications to place into the RX bottles; and others.

I left the pharmacy, horrified and fearful that I had been exposed to Covid19 by a pharmacist filling my medications for cancer. I hope to God I am Covid19 negative when I get tested on Saturday for my Monday surgery. My son, age 25, is getting a Covid19 test so he can drive me back to Long Island after the surgery.

I spoke to the pharmacist and the store manager today, the day after the incident. I received defensive, excuse-laden comments from each of them, independently, that showed no acceptance of culpability. I have notified my Suffolk County legislator and his Chief of Staff. I contacted the New York State hotline. I called CVS headquarters without success.

I am letting you know this now because I fear that more persons, daily, are being exposed and perhaps infected with a virus for which there is no cure, while I wait for a response from NY State and their inundated hotline. Everyone in that pharmacy line is there because they are sick. The last thing I imagined was risking further sickness or death from the pharmacist preparing my medications. Upon leaving, a sign on the door of the pharmacy said that flu shots were available and strongly urged as a health precaution.



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