A man has been charged after he allegedly smashed a COVID screen into a pharmacist’s face, as a Victorian pharmacist recounts an incident of violence at her own store
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has again had to call on the general public to respect the right of pharmacy staff to safety and courtesy in their workplace, following an incident in the Victorian town of Moe.
Last Thursday – only two days after the Guild called for action on pharmacy safety, following an incident in Auburn, Sydney – an angry patient smashed a window between a consultation room and a dispensary in a Moe pharmacy.
Pharmacy owner at Chemist Discount Centre Moe Rania Hanoun described the incident in an email to colleagues.
“It’s been an overwhelming week! Patient smashed glass window and verbally abused us, but we received so much support from the community,” she wrote.
“Last Thursday a patient smashed glass window between the consulting room and the dispensary as I was talking to him.
“As he punched the glass the first time, I knew he was not going to stop at that, I took few steps backward away from the window, he kept going at it until he smashed the whole window and the metal frame.
“It was frightening as customers ran to one side of the shop while others ran to check on their children in their cars as he walked out.
“Thankfully no one was hurt. But we were overwhelmed by the support and care of the community. I received phone calls to check in on us and one of the customers who was in the pharmacy at the time brought me lovely flowers to put a smile on my face.
“Thank you to my staff who won’t let this event dampen their spirits and are always there for our customers. Thank you to our community who value and respect us,” Ms Hanoun wrote.
Rania Hanoun’s business partner, and CEO of the Advantage pharmacy group, Steven Kastrinakis, said, “Staff and customers were quite rattled by what happened”.
“You can see them in the security video moving out of the way after the perpetrator smashed the glass in the counselling room.
“Frontline health workers should not be subjected to this aggravated violence.
“Moe Police were called and made an arrest. The police were surprised nobody was injured by shards of glass that were sprayed into the dispensary,” Mr Kastrinakis said.
National President of the Pharmacy Guild George Tambassis said he was very disturbed to hear this latest report of aggressive and violent behaviour.
“The overwhelming majority of Australians respect and trust their local pharmacy staff, which makes it all the more unacceptable when somebody behaves so poorly,” Mr Tambassis said.
“I say again: Pharmacists and pharmacy staff should not be expected to endure aggression and threatening abuse from a tiny minority of Australians who are engaging in this behaviour.
“The safety and wellbeing of our staff and other patients is paramount,” he said.
The President of the Guild’s Victorian Branch, Anthony Tassone, also deplored the incident, encouraging pharmacists to contact the Pharmacists’ Support Service (PSS) should they feel the need to speak with anybody following such incidents.
Meanwhile in Sydney, NSW Police have issued a statement after following up the incident in Auburn last week, in which security footage showed a man smashing a COVID-19 protective screen into the face of pharmacist Ahmed Ouf.
Last week Mr Ouf told the AJP that the man had become angry when asked to pay $6.60 for a packet of Panadeine on a private script.
He allegedly smashed the screen, swore at Mr Ouf and left, pulling items from the oral care section onto the floor on his way out.
Auburn Police now say that they have arrested a 40-year-old man at a home on Zillah Street, Merrylands at about 12pm on Friday, 23 October.
He was taken to Auburn Police Station where he was charged with common assault and destroy or damage property.
The man was refused bail to appear at Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday.
Pharmacists can contact the Pharmacists Support Service on 1300 244 910 for peer support related to the demands of being a pharmacist in Australia.
Members can call PDL on 1300 854 838 for support from a Professional Officer.