2001-08-11 / Front Page

CVS Pharmacy Strikes Back!

CVS Pharmacy Strikes Back!

By Gary G. Toms

During the week of June 16, The Wave broke the story of how a CVS pharmacy, located at 88-07 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, was dumping confidential patient records in a dumpster in back of the store. The story generated a number of phone calls to the Wave office from concerned residents, and the CVS corporate executives took immediate action to try and curtail the situation.

At a point when they are trying to defuse one potential time bomb, the CVS corporation has encountered yet another embarrassing situation that was recently brought to the attention of the newspaper.

The Wave recently obtained documents that turned out to be CVS employee time sheets. As in the case of the discarded patient information, these sheets were obtained from the dumpster area at the back of the store.

The documents listed the employee name, the number of hours worked and most alarming of all, the employees social security number. While the name and number of hours worked posed no immediate concern, the fact that the employee’s security number was revealed raised the eyebrows of many CVS executives.

"The CVS administrators are extremely concerned about this recent development. We will be looking very closely at what has transpired, and we intend to do everything possible to prevent anything like this from happening in the future," said Todd Andrews, Director of Corporate Communications for the franchise.

A week after his initial conversation with The Wave, Andrews called to say that the CVS organization is taking this matter very seriously. "We are very worried that something of a criminal nature is happening with regard to this particular store. In the past, the store has experienced problems with vandals breaking the padlocks of the dumpsters."

When questioned about whether the organization felt this was an intentional act, Andrews replied, " With this current situation, there is reason to believe that people are purposely vandalizing the area in order to obtain documents that may list confidential information. We are now working with local law enforcement officials to catch those who may be responsible for the vandalism."

A mandate had been issued by the CVS franchise to stop placing any confidential material into dumpsters. Instead, the material will be carted off in CVS trucks and taken to a CVS warehouse where they will be properly destroyed. However, the procedure has not been implemented as of yet.

When grilled about why the practice has not started, Andrews admitted, "While the mandate is in place, we are confident that the materials will be discarded in a proper fashion and in a reasonable time frame. The mandate will apply to all 4,000 or so CVS stores nationwide."

The CVS official also acknowledged and praised The Wave for bringing these matters to the forefront. "It would be all too easy for this franchise to downplay your findings, but the fact of the matter is that you have made us aware of some very serious situations that concern us. We are grateful that The Wave has reached out to inform us, and we intend to correct any problems that may exist."

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