Linda Green says a recent move by Home Care to transfer all clients to a single pharmacy is proving inconvenient for her and her aging father.

Green provides care for her dad and picks up his prescriptions, usually at the Medicine Shoppe on Primrose Drive, but last month she was turned away when she went to pick up his medicine at the pharmacy.

Her father is one of several Home Care clients recently transferred to Willowgrove Pharmacy as part of a Saskatoon Health Region effort to move clients to a single pharmacy.

“We didn’t have a choice. We were told this is the way it had to be,” Green said. “I had to phone the health region and they said it had to be done by the Willowgrove Pharmacy. It’s just not convenient.”

The health region has been transferring clients to the new pharmacy since September 2016 after the Willowgrove business won a request for proposal a few months earlier. A total of 220 clients are expected to be transferred by the end of March.

Willowgrove won because the pharmacy met a lot of requirements around the proposal regarding technology, processes, hours of service, delivery and cost to the client.

“We were dealing with 80 different pharmacies with different types of packaging, different refills, and different hours of service,” said Home Care director Tammy Vornbrock.

One of the main reasons behind switching to a single pharmacy was to ensure patient safety and avoid a substantial amount of errors related to the packaging of medication, Vornback said.

“Last year alone, I think we had self-reported at least 890 errors that we were making.”

The Willowgrove Pharmacy has its own 24-hour delivery service and checks its medications multiple times using an “optical checker,” according to owner Norm Wiens.

“It takes an optical image of every single packet that goes out the door, so it verifies by barcode that what’s in each packet is supposed to be in that packet,” Wiens said.

Home Care says the transfers come at no extra budgetary cost to the service or its clients, but the manager of the Medicine Shoppe on Primrose Drive, Debbie Wilson, says she’s lost several clients because of the switch.

“We’ve definitely lost five or six huge clients, patients with multiple prescriptions — like 10 or more prescriptions on a monthly basis. There are a few more that we stand to lose,” Wilson said.

For Green, getting used to the new spot will take some time.

The Medicine Shoppe "is very close to where my parents live, so it was all in one trip. It was all very convenient and, now, not nearly,” Green said.