Fort Campbell pharmacy cuts service, hours

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — Fort Campbell's hospital will be cutting a popular medication service and reducing hours at its pharmacy as the hospital prepares for looming military budget cuts.

Blanchfield Army Community Hospital said in a news release Wednesday that to meet mandatory budget reductions, they had to make changes to extra services that were previously provided to soldiers and their families.

One popular program that is being cut is a self-care program that allowed patients to get free over-the-counter medications, like cold and flu medications or aspirin, from pharmacies at the hospital. Effective immediately, those medications will have to be purchased at local drug stores.

The hospital's chief of pharmacy, Maj. Kevin Ridderhoff, said this was a benefit provided to Fort Campbell families for years.

"We were able to absorb the cost to offer this extra benefit to our patients while working with our care teams to help reduce unnecessary visits if patients were able to provide self care at home," Ridderhoff said in a news release. "However, now with the budget cuts, it is imperative that we cut this program so that we can continue to provide exceptional, safe and timely service by providing only prescription medications to patients visiting our pharmacies."

The main hospital pharmacy will also close one hour early at 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. starting next week. Patients can still get prescriptions filled at the Town Center Pharmacy until 6 p.m.

Military officials have been warning about serious impacts to readiness if automatic budget cuts are allowed to take effect March 1. The Pentagon faces a $46 billion budget reduction through the end of September and the military also has to absorb a $487 billion reduction in defense spending over the next 10 years mandated by the Budget Control Act passed in 2011.

In addition, the military is operating without a budget for the current fiscal year because Congress hasn't approved one. A hiring freeze for the military is already in place and military officials say they are cutting back on maintenance at bases and facilities.

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