Local pharmacy gives away food, adjusts operations to protect high risk community

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WELCH, WV (WVNS) — A drug store that stood through the great depression, is one of the first in the area to adjust to the “new normal.” Employees of the Flat Iron drug store in McDowell County are going the extra mile not only to help prevent the spread, but to make sure the community is taken care of. 

The Flat Iron drug store stood in Welch for more than 100 years, and remains a staple in the community. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, employees do everything they can to protect their community from the virus, and the hardships that come with it, as many are out of work due to COVID-19.

Pharmacist, John Letocha, said “We’ve got food here if anybody needs it nobody has asked yet but we’ve got it if they come in and ask because its an economically hit area not a whole lot of jobs so no paycheck can effect you pretty bad.”

 The owner, Aaron Trager, funds the food supply to discreetly help people in need.

The employees were also quick to establish precautionary measures. Letocha said they hung a plastic curtain in front of the counter on March 20, 2020 more than two weeks before McDowell County saw its first confirmed case of COVID-19. He said people seem to appreciate their effort.

“They say wow that’s so nice you’re keeping everybody safe. Because we keep our staff separated from them, keep them separated from the staff,” Letocha said.

Pharmacy clerk, Dolly Kay Steele, said, “I do feel more protected, at the same time I feel isolated and smothered.”

Steele said seeing the floor to ceiling plastic divider makes some feel uneasy and she tries to reassure nervous customers.

Letocha said its necessary. They have a high risk community who needs them to keep going.

“You have to keep the pharmacies open so people can get their meds because if not, the fatality rate could get a lot worse,” said Letocha.

 Flat Iron Drug store now only allows five customers in the store at a time, enforces social distancing with signs and offers curbside pick up.

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