CVS Fills Prescription for Disabled Workers

Apr 14, 2016

The nation’s aging population is feeding the need for more pharmaceuticals, and that means more jobs in drug stores.  Here in Virginia, one chain has found a novel way to staff 340 locations.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

Kaylee Rushing collects her diploma from Governor Terry McAuliffe and prepares to start her first job at CVS.

On any given day, CVS claims it has 300 jobs available at its stores in Virginia.  To help assure a reliable labor pool, it turned to the state and proposed training disabled people at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville. 

“We’re teaching them merchandising skills, backroom organization, but the most important thing is the customer service skills and the register skills,” says Duane Rohr, Virginia’s Manager of Workforce Intiatives

CVS helped the state build a mock store, and company vice president David Casey says the training program is a win for his company, the employees and a government that will now collect taxes from people who might not otherwise be working.

“There are far too many people with disabilities who want to work who aren’t working," Casey says. "It’s a talent pool that’s available to us, and we’re going to take advantage of it.”

It costs about $1,400 to train each person in the program – a bill that critics say should be paid by the private sector, but speaking after a graduation ceremony for the first four students, Governor Terry McAuliffe defended the public-private partnership.

“I believe it’s our job to help everybody get a job in the new Virginia economy, and sometimes we have to give folks a little bit of extra help,” he explains.

Also on hand to cheer the program, Republican Delegates Dickie Bell and Steve Landes and Senator Emmett Hangar.  In the last election cycle, CVS gave $41,000 to Republican candidates in Virginia and another $6,500 to Democrats.  But none of that matters to 22-year-old Kaylee Rushing, who’s battled a host of disabilities:

“I have ADHD, ADD, we think bi-polar, we think turrets, because I have ticks and I twitch and all that,” she says.

After four weeks of classroom training and an internship, she’s excited to have a real job with CVS.

“Basically I’ll be working cashier and as stock clerk – stocking the shelves and also doing customer service.  I’ll be like, ‘Hello, do you need assistance?’ and if they don’t then I’ll say, ‘Have a lovely day, and if you need anything, just come and tell me.’”

The Wilson Workforce Rehabilitation Center is funded in large part by the federal government through the U.S. Department of Education.