LOS ANGELES -- The powerful earthquake that rocked the area here Jan. 17 did not prevent pharmacists from serving their customers.
Vons Cos., Arcadia, Calif., which operates 124 pharmacies in supermarkets, managed to reach out to customers despite the damage its stores received during the quake.
"Vons does not normally make deliveries," said Julie Reynolds, a company spokeswoman, "but because of the tragedies our customers suffered because of the quake, we did do some deliveries."
Reynolds said 12 of the company's stores with pharmacies were closed on Monday, the day of the earthquake. All but three of those stores were operational by Wednesday, and two of these three stores used their resources creatively to continue pharmacy operations.
Pharmacists at the Vons unit in West Los Angeles brought the computer to a nearby store and transferred the phone lines to that store to continue serving customers, said Reynolds.
Pharmacists in Vons' San Fernando store boxed up inventory and returned it to their wholesaler until store damage was repaired. In the interim, the store's phone lines were transferred to a neighboring Vons where pharmacy operations continued as usual.
Only one Vons pharmacy, in Newhall, was unable to fill prescriptions during the two days it was closed after the 4:31 a.m. earthquake that registered 6.6 on the Richter scale.
Drug wholesalers reported most supermarket pharmacy operations responded quickly and effectively in the days after the quake.
Ron Bone, vice president of sales for McKesson Corp.'s Southwest area said, "The chains reacted really well themselves. They mustered up teams quickly and got themselves up on line. All the stories I heard about supermarkets were that they had a very quick response."
Most emergency situations encountered by San Francisco-based McKesson, which services many Los Angeles-area pharmacies, occurred at small pharmacies that did not have the resources that were available to large supermarket chains, said Bone.
Following the quake McKesson made a $100,000 cash contribution to the Los Angeles earthquake relief effort. McKesson's facilities were not damaged by the tremor.
"The night of the quake, all our orders were completed on schedule," said Bone. "It was just hard to get there."
Mike MIller, division manager of Bergen Brunswig, Valencia, Calif., said his drug distribution center was not as lucky.
The Valencia site received "pretty minor structural damage," but had to be shut down because of quake-ravaged water pipes, product spillage and other quake-related problems.
Miller said Bergen Brunswig's other California plants picked up much of the closed Valencia plant's orders.
"Quite a bit of product came off the pallet racks," said Miller of the damage in Valencia. He added that many of Bergen Brunswig's employees from across the country assisted in cleanup efforts at the Valencia site.