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Jernegan’s closes, prescriptions sent to Walgreens

New London pharmacy shuts down suddenly after 3 decades

By Scott Bellile

Less than a year after changing ownership, Jernegan’s Health Mart Pharmacy is no more.

Jon and Sara Thompson bought the 1301 Mill St. business from founders Jim and Cathy Jernegan in April 2018. Eleven months later, the business abruptly closed its doors.

The news broke of the business’s closure not through a public announcement, but rather a rumor posted to Facebook on March 4, saying the pharmacy planned to shut down at the end of the day March 6.

The person who wrote the post claimed employees were notified of the closure three days earlier.

Jon Thompson did not respond to an email requesting comment.

All Jernegan’s Health Mart Pharmacy signage has been removed from the property, and the business’s website and Facebook page have been deactivated.

In-person visitors to the store encounter covered windows except for handwritten signs that say “Thank you for your business, your trust and your confidence,” and, “It was our pleasure to work with you!”

Jon and Sara Thompson pictured at Jernegan’s Health Mart Pharmacy in June 2018. The pharmacy owners shut down the business on March 6.
Scott Bellile file photo

Two more signs direct customers to New London’s Walgreens store, 981 N. Shawano St. Walgreens acquired the pharmacy files from Jernegan’s, and all prescriptions have been transferred there.

“The transfer was automatic and patients do not need to take any action,” said Allison Mack, communications manager for Walgreen Co. “Patients will receive more information in the mail about the transfer. Patients who received delivery from Jernegan’s will be receiving additional information about delivery options. We look forward to welcoming these patients to Walgreens in order to meet their prescription needs.”

Former Jernegan’s customers can visit any Walgreens store to get their prescriptions filled. Calls to the old Jernegan’s phone number transfer to Walgreens.

According to the New London Area Chamber of Commerce, Walgreens does not perform the home deliveries Jernegan’s was known for. Walgreens will bubble-pack medications for a fee.

April Kopitzke, executive director for the chamber, said the initial Facebook rumors about Jernegan’s concerned her, so she worked with Walgreens to communicate information about the transition on the chamber’s social media accounts.

“I instantly wondered if the community members who were relying on prescriptions were made aware and if not I felt panicked for those that may not have social media,” Kopitzke said in an email to the Press Star.

The public was encouraged to spread the word to their offline family and neighbors, Kopitzke said.

“Tuesday we were inundated with phone calls of curiosity and frustration regarding the transition,” Kopitzke said, referring to March 5. “It’s unfortunate to see anything like this happen in our community and I’m sure there is more to the story. In a situation like this, when the Chamber is unaware of a sudden closing that affects so many, you take action and I think we did our best to alert the community.”

Previous owners Jim and Cathy Jernegan still own the property, according to Outagamie County land records. Neither responded to voicemails requesting comment.

Cathy Jernegan told the Appleton Post-Crescent there is no plan for the building moving forward and declined to comment on why Jon Thompson closed the business abruptly.

She also told the Post-Crescent that prior to retiring last year,  chain companies offered to buy the Jernegans’ business, but they declined the offers because they wanted the pharmacy to remain independent and locally owned.

The Jernegans’ business opened in December 1987 as a Medicap Pharmacy franchise at the site of a former root beer stand.

Medicap purchased the pharmacy files from the former New London Pharmacy and, in 1992, acquired and absorbed the Hortonville Lakeside Pharmacy, including its pharmacist.

In 2000, Medicap rebuilt its store at triple its previous size, adding room for private consultations, staff workstations, waiting space and expanded inventory.

The Jernegans’ business received numerous awards for being among the top-selling Medicap franchises in the company throughout the 1990s and 2000s, according to past Press Star articles.

Anthony Trentlage and his defense attorney Erica Bauer talk following his sentencing hearing on March 18, 2016. Scott Bellile file photo

The Medicap affiliation ended in 2010 when the business went independent and became Jernegan’s Health Mart Pharmacy.

In a darker moment for the pharmacy, on May 13, 2015, Anthony J. Trentlage of Hortonville robbed the pharmacy with a weapon, threatening to kill the workers if they did not give him pills. There was courtroom debate over whether his firearm was real – Trentlage told investigators it was an airsoft gun – but the next year, Trentlage was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.

Jim and Cathy Jernegan retired last year after the Thompsons bought the business from them.

Jon Thompson owned and operated pharmacies in Iowa before moving his family to Wisconsin last year to take over Jernegan’s Health Mart Pharmacy.

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