A meeting that some thought was open to the public and an opportunity to ask questions about a change of pharmacy service providers at Mountain Lea Lodge was meant only for family and friends of residents at the facility, the chair of the Annapolis County Municipal Housing Corporation said in a statement March 5.
“The meeting on Friday was for families, and it was an opportunity for the Lawtons team to introduce themselves,” said Joan McLean, “and for the families to ask questions and express their concerns regarding how this change of service will affect them and their loved ones.”
Several people, including the media and a member of the Bridgetown Pharmasave staff, were asked to leave the 2 p.m. meeting March 1 at the lodge.
The invitation to family and friends to meet with staff from Lawtons Drugs found its way onto a public forum on Facebook where controversy over the switch from the local Pharmasave dominated its pages since the public became aware of the change in service.
Confusion over the intent of the meeting may have come from the invitation itself that identified the housing corporation as a publically funded entity, which usually means meetings are public.
It also said Lawton’s staff would be on site to answer questions from families. But several people at the meeting said questions about the request for proposals process, that saw the contract with MLL switch from the Bridgetown Pharmasave to Lawtons Drugs based in Pictou County, would not be entertained.
One man, who asked not to be identified, did ask about the contract switch but was denied an answer. He and several other people left the meeting at that point.
In its Feb. 20 invitation to the meeting, housing corporation CEO Joyce d’Entremont explained the corporation’s ‘fiduciary responsibility’ to regularly issue an RFP for contracted services.
“As a publically funded entity, we are accountable for demonstrating fiscal responsibility through an RFP process and our tender process follows the guidelines established by the provincial government,” she said.
That RFP was issued on Jan. 9 and the decision to contract the services of Lawtons was announced in February. The Lawtons contract starts on April 1.