FARMINGTON — Farmington Medical Supplies and Services will close its doors by Dec. 31, manager Brenda Laviolette said. The Wilton Road store is liquidating items.
The long history of serving all of Franklin County and parts of Androscoggin, Oxford, Somerset and Kennebec counties with home deliveries of medical rental equipment and maintenance services will sadly come to an end, she said.
The reason revolves around Medicare and MaineCare cuts, and the accreditation and bonds needed to do business with insurance companies, she said. It's an expensive and long process that leaves no funds for overhead.
"For instance, MaineCare will pay $7 for a cane that costs the store $5 but after doing the paperwork, the store waits 30 days for payment," she said. "What can you do with $2 that you wait 30 days for? There's not enough profit."
Unlike large stores all over the nation that can exist on small payments on some items while reaping profit from quantities sold, this longtime Farmington business caters to the public traveling long distances to deliver needed rental supplies or to provide maintenance, Laviollette said. Unfortunately, it's just not the volume of people like in an area the size of Portland, she said.
When an employee takes the time to travel to maintain an electric wheelchair, the store never gets paid for those things, she added.
"We've enjoyed serving the area and enjoyed the clients. It's sad," she said of her 39-year involvement with the business.
The store was downtown on Broadway for more than 37 years, she said, recalling previous owners including Ernie Bourgoin who moved the store from a location next to the town office to Broadway. Prior to that, the Broadway location was Hardy's Pharmacy and before that Tarbox-Hardy Pharmacy, she said.
The store moved to the Routes 2 and 4 Nichols group building two years ago.
"It's the perfect place to be for business with plenty of parking and a one-floor setup, but we can't make enough," she said. The business, open Monday through Friday, used to employ 10 people but is now down to three.
Oxycare of Ellsworth will continue supplying oxygen, hospital beds and other rentals of medical equipment in the area. It has a warehouse in Lewiston and people will continue seeing the same driver as they have been, she said.
Spruce Mountain Pharmacy owner Steve Maki has agreed to carry more medical supplies in his new independent pharmacy in Jay. He will not carry the medical equipment rentals, she said.
As for employees such as Laviolette of Wilton, it's a matter of starting over and spending the winter looking for other employment, she said.