Walmart closing causes concerns over access to medication

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Note: A Walmart spokesperson responded to KOB 4 on Friday with the following statement:

“Walmart owns the property and it will be re-evaluated for use at a later date.

Regarding medications, all prescriptions will be transferred to Store 835 (400 Eubank Blvd.) on March 11. However, if a patient wishes to transfer a prescription elsewhere, our pharmacists will work with the patient to do so. Patients can call or visit the pharmacy to start a preferred transfer process if they do not wish to transfer to Store 835.”

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There are more concerns after Walmart announced it’s closing its store on San Mateo in southeast Albuquerque.

Many people in the city who struggle with transportation rely on the store by Highland High School for food and other necessities, and Thursday people voiced worries over accessing medication.

“I was really sad,” said Janet Simon, president of the Parkland Hills Neighborhood Association.

She said even with the crime people say is taking place at the Walmart, the store is vital to the community.

“You need something pretty quick and that’s the quickest place to access it,” she said.

She and others who live in the area say along with difficulties accessing fresh food, losing the Walmart pharmacy will cause problems for people.

“It’s decreasing one’s choice for places to get items,” said Simon.

There’s a Walgreens feet away on San Mateo, but people who live in the area said they doubt that location can handle hundreds more customers.

There’s another Walgreens north on Lomas – a 15-minute walk, and there’s a Smith’s on Lomas that has a pharmacy. It’s a 20-minute bus ride and a 30-minute walk from the Walmart.

According to Simon, many kinds of businesses have closed up shop over the three decades she’s lived here.

“We’ve lost a number of small businesses and services over time and they’ve not been replaced,” she said.

She wonders whether there was more Walmart could have done to stick around, since people there rely on the store to such an extent.

Walmart reps told KOB 4 on Wednesday that the location wasn’t making enough money.

City leaders have said many times vacant buildings can lead to drug activity and other crime, and now people who live in the area are wondering whether the very large Walmart building will lead to similar problems.

Those concerns are why the city set some guidelines a few years ago. City councilor Pat Davis, whose district includes the Walmart, said the company would have to put up fencing and hire security if that building is going to be empty, and there would be punishment for violations.

Simon believes people do have worries.

“I think it brings up this ongoing concern of where people congregate,” she said.

KOB 4 asked the Albuquerque Police Department whether they are concerned crime could become more of a problem at that location. A spokesperson said:

“We can’t speculate what might happen with the building once the store closes. If there are concerns in the future, the city’s Planning Department will work with the owner of the property to mitigate those concerns.”

Walmart representatives did not get back to KOB 4 Thursday when asked about concerns over medication access and crime.