Response to recent coverage, internal statement from CVS Health on death of colleague Ashleigh Anderson

“New reporting this morning by USA Today has exposed the circumstances of the tragic death of our colleague Ashleigh Anderson, a dedicated 17 year CVS pharmacist who lost her life in Indiana in 2021 after working through a cardiac arrest during her shift, unable to step away without closing the store due to their extreme short staffing. 

In the years since her death, CVS has made no meaningful reforms to their systemic practice of extreme short staffing; a practice which had left Ashleigh’s store so understaffed that they were running 1,000 prescriptions behind at the time of her death. The problem remains so permissive that today, state regulators in Ohio fined CVS $250,000 for exactly this practice of systemic short staffing.

CVS Health acknowledged the media coverage around the devastating loss of Ashleigh’s life today with the issuance of a milquetoast internal communication to staff that falls far short of honoring her life, acknowledging the structural and cultural issues that prevented her from receiving the emergency care she needed, or committing to any kind of the meaningful reforms brought to light as necessary from the tragedy. 

Ashleigh’s tragic death could have been prevented. No pharmacy professional should feel forced to work through cardiac arrest to keep their store open alone as the only staff member, or be unable to seek emergent medical care. The widespread practice of dangerous short staffing at CVS and other retail giants has created a culture of extreme pressure upon pharmacy professionals – creating fear for their own jobs if they step away, even while experiencing a medical emergency, and fear for the fate of their patients who are relying on them. No job is worth our life. Today we continue to mourn the heartbreaking loss of our colleague Ashleigh Anderson, who we remember, celebrate, and honor through our fight to win real reforms in the systems of greed and exploitation which led to that loss.”