A prolonged government shutdown could slow restocking efforts at the Fort Gordon commissary, but supply and delivery of prescription drug orders at the Army post’s pharmacy should be unaffected, officials said Tuesday.
“We are still able to order medications,” said Wes Elliott, a spokesman for Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center. “Business is running normally, and nothing is shut down.”
Earlier this week, rumors circulated on social media sites that because of a lack of funding some patients were being sent to retail drugstores off post – where copays and price caps are in effect – because the Fort Gordon hospital could not restock its pharmacy shelves.
Elliott said such reports were false and likely stemmed from the Army hospital’s powering down its Defense Medical Logistic Standard Support system Sept. 23 to complete end-of-the-year paperwork for the automated information program the hospital uses to place new orders.
“We make preparations annually for the system to be down a few days in between fiscal years and the best we can figure is a patient needed a prescription that maybe we had not stockpiled,” Elliott said.
Elliot said during the first week of the government shutdown, Eisenhower had to furlough 15 percent of its staff, or 262 employees, all of whom returned Monday along with nearly 500 other Fort Gordon civilian workers.
On Saturday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that many of the 400,000 civilians who had been placed on emergency furlough would be able to return to work beginning this week.
The Fort Gordon Commissary officially reopened its doors and returned to its normal operating schedule at 9 a.m. Tuesday, a sight that Elliott said left many people at the post “jumping for joy.”
The celebration was only half-lived, though.
Defense Commissary Agency spokesman Kevin Robinson said it might take three to five business days before all the shelves are fully stocked again.
Robinson said officials had to restart the supply line after stores were closed starting Oct. 2 because of the government shutdown. He could not say which product chains will be replenished first.
“There’s going to be a period of adjustment,” he said. “We are asking customers to bear with us.”