Several cubicles and a conference room sit in the LSU Student Health Center where University students once could fill their prescriptions.
The Pharmacy at LSU was a full-service pharmacy that offered over-the-counter and prescription drugs, vaccines and more. Many students were not aware of the Student Health Center’s on-campus pharmacy before it closed in the spring of 2018. The pharmacy closure is due to financial instability, but the students who depended on it worry about the decision to close.
Graduate student Sydney Epps said she is concerned about the pharmacy’s closure because of the new on-campus living requirement for all freshman students starting this year.
“[These students] should be able to access all the facets of health and wellness on campus,” Epps said.
Although students new to campus this year don’t know about the pharmacy, Epps said there’s a “remarkably large populous” of graduate, non-traditional and international students who were especially dependent on on-campus medical resources like the Student Health Center’s pharmacy.
Before the pharmacy closed, students could see a doctor, get a prescription and immediately have it filled in-house, Epps said.
“It was a one-stop shop,” Epps said. “It was amazing. It was a great idea, and I think it was very well-celebrated when it first opened.”
Keystone Pharmacy Services, the private company operating the on-campus pharmacy, closed the business and ended their lease early due to a lack of usage, according to Student Health Center executive director D’Ann Morris. The company took over the pharmacy in 2016 after the Student Health Center determined the 25-year-old self-operating pharmacy wasn’t financially stable enough to remain open.
“The LSU community is opting to use pharmacies off-campus rather than on-campus,” Morris said in an email. “It is as simple as that. That’s why the self-op closed. The private venture failed because there wasn’t enough business to keep it open.”
Morris said the self-operating pharmacy began losing money around 2011-12 due to low usage and issues with health insurance.
“In the Student Health Center, we believed in the value of the pharmacy, but could not sustain the cost by using student fee money to subsidize it,” Morris said in an email. “We need to be good stewards of [students’] money.”
The Student Health Center converted the space previously occupied by the pharmacy to a cubicle-style office space for six employees and a
conference room, Morris said.
Now, the lack of a pharmacy slows the process of students’ access to medical resources, especially those who might have transportation and
language barriers that already make medical care difficult, Epps said.
“It was much more convenient to just walk across campus than having to drive to a CVS or another pharmacy,” Epps said.
Morris said most doctor’s offices and clinics don’t have an in-house pharmacy and that pharmacies are not necessary for medical diagnoses.
After the pharmacy announced its closure, Epps began collecting notecards with student feedback about the pharmacy’s closure. She posted a box outside of her office door for students to leave comments, and she received about 120 student opinions that she passed on to LSU Student Government.
SG also received feedback from about 50 to 100 students toward the end of the spring 2018 semester, according to SG executive press secretary CJ Carver. After receiving emails from students asking SG to intervene in the pharmacy’s closure, Carver said he reached out to the previous administration, but they didn’t have any involvement with the decision to close the pharmacy. SG
president Stewart Lockett then contacted Morris.
“Following the Student Health Center’s decision to close the in-house pharmacy, Student Government received concern from students over the closure and our involvement in it,” Carver said in a press release. “After discussing the closure with the executive director of the Student Health Center, D’Ann Morris, the timeline shows Student Government had no involvement in this decision.”
Speaker of the student senate Christina Black said she hasn’t heard much from students directly because several students didn’t know the pharmacy existed. She said several of the students she asked about the pharmacy said they prefer to use the CVS and Walgreens pharmacies off-campus.
Moving forward, Carver said SG will continue to work with the Student Health Center to provide students with the necessary resources. Black also said the student senate is open to working with the Student Health Center.