The CVS pharmacist knew she was having a heart attack but stayed on the job until she died

The CVS pharmacist knew she was having a heart attack but stayed on the job until she died

Most major pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid will remain open on New Year’s Day, but pharmacy hours may vary.
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  • A CVS pharmacist died of a heart attack mid-shift at a store that was understaffed during the pandemic, USA Today reported.
  • Despite experiencing symptoms, her family speculates that she felt unable to go to the ER until a replacement arrived.
  • Pharmacies struggled to find workers during the pandemic and staff said they were burnt out.

A CVS pharmacist at an understaffed store had a fatal heart attack on the job — and her family thinks she didn’t go to the ER because she didn’t want to leave the pharmacy unattended.

Ashleigh Anderson, then 41, worked at a CVS store in Seymour, Indiana. On September 10, 2021, the store was severely understaffed — she was the only pharmacist working that shift, according to a report from USA Today.

Anderson knew she was experiencing symptoms of a heart attack while at work, according to the USA Today article, which shared text messages sent between Anderson and Joe Bowman, her boyfriend, during what would have been her shift last.

Anderson texted Bowman in the morning, saying she had been experiencing cold sweats, jaw pain, chest pains and nausea. I think I have a heart attack”, she wrote.

Bowman replied that there could be other causes for her symptoms. “Can you take a long lunch and decompress?” he asked her.

“I can’t,” Anderson replied.

She told Bowman she had spoken to her boss’s assistant, who told her to close the store. In another text to Bowman a short time later, Anderson said the assistant had found a replacement for her and that she was going to a nearby ER.

“I hope it’s nothing and I’ll get back to work,” she wrote to Bowman in what turned out to be the last text she ever sent.

About 15 minutes later, she collapsed in the pharmacy. People close to Anderson told USA Today they thought she had decided to wait until her replacement arrived before going to the ER.

“She was, in our opinion, afraid to go to the emergency room and be told, ‘No, it’s not a heart attack at all, it’s just anxiety,'” her father, Larry Anderson, told the newspaper. “Because then she’ll have to go back and face her bosses.”

A customer who was a nurse began CPR on Anderson while a pharmacy technician called emergency services, one of her colleagues told USA Today.

First responders quickly arrived, but efforts to revive Anderson at both the pharmacy and the ER were unsuccessful, USA Today reported.

An autopsy revealed that Anderson had severe atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, according to USA Today. A cardiologist told the newspaper that Anderson likely would have been saved if he had gone to the ER as soon as he noticed the symptoms.

The pharmacy was understaffed and Anderson was stressed

During the pandemic, retail pharmacies were inundated with patients wanting tests and vaccines for COVID-19 at a time when they struggled to find enough workers. Workers also had to balance customer service with social distancing requirements.

Pharmacists previously told Business Insider they were overworked and burned out. “Covid has made this already inhumane situation worse,” said a former CVS pharmacist in Connecticut.

Anderson was a smoker. And she was stressed because of her job — shortly before her death, the pharmacy manager and two staff pharmacists had quit their jobs, leaving the remaining staff overwhelmed, according to the USA Today report.

Anderson had also recently revealed that her boss had promoted her to pharmacy manager against her will – she didn’t want the extra stress. “I’m upset,” she texted a colleague days before her death.

Anderson’s family told USA Today that she was expected to work during lunch and bathroom breaks and felt pressured to come on tour even when she wasn’t feeling well.

But despite this, her family said she had been to the doctor two weeks before her death and received a clean bill of health.

“We were and remain deeply saddened by the tragic death of our colleague, Ashleigh Anderson, in September 2021. She was an outstanding pharmacist who was dedicated to her profession, patients, co-workers and community,” CVS said in a statement. statement to Business Insider.

The statement added that CVS has “a culture of safety for our patients, our customers and our colleagues.”

“We don’t want any colleague to stay at work if they get sick or experience a health emergency,” he continued.

Michael DeAngelis, executive director of corporate communications at CVS, told USA Today that Anderson’s death was a “tragedy that should never have happened.”

“It’s impossible for me to comment on why Ashleigh made the decision she did,” DeAngelis said, referring to her decision to apparently wait until her replacement arrived before heading to the ER.

“I think that, in general, pharmacists are very dedicated healthcare professionals, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are pharmacists who feel, ‘I have to continue to take care of my patients,’ versus, ‘I’m afraid.’ from my employer.'”

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