Home Health Optum and CVS Panicked Thousands of their Sickest Patients

Optum and CVS Panicked Thousands of their Sickest Patients


NEW YORK — The fear started when a few patients saw their nurses and dietitians posting job searches on LinkedIn.

Coram CVS is a major U.S. supplier for compounded IV nutrients that patients rely on for their survival. Word spread via Facebook groups. CVS Health confirmed the rumors June 1, to their dismay: It was closing 36 out of 71 Coram home infusion businesses and laying off approximately 2,000 nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, and other employees.

Many of those left behind have serious digestive problems that make it impossible to eat and drink. They depend on parenteral nutrition, or PN — in which amino acids, sugars, fats, vitamins, and electrolytes are pumped, in most cases, through a specialized catheter directly into a large vein near the heart.

The day after CVS’ move, another big supplier, Optum Rx, announced its own consolidation. The sudden loss of thousands of essential drugs and nutrients, which are often complex and difficult to find, meant that many would be left without them.

“With this kind of disruption, patients can’t get through on the phones. They panic,” said Cynthia Reddick, a senior nutritionist who was let go in the CVS restructuring.

“It was very…

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