Extending a helping hand

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A bushfire disaster relief fund for community pharmacists has been established, while one company is offering fee-free locum placement in bushfire-affected areas

A GoFundMe page has been established to raise funds to support community pharmacists who have been harmed by the bushfires that are ravaging Australia.

The Bushfire Disaster Fund for Community Pharmacists, developed by Joyce McSwan in collaboration with Karalyn Huxhagen and Owen Mellon, aims to raise $130,000 to provide practical assistance to pharmacists who are in financial stress due to the bushfires and may have lost their homes or belongings.

“Community pharmacists are reliable and essential services that look after the health and wellbeing of communities,” say the organisers.

“Despite the dire conditions they have stood, served, fought and supported their local communities selflessly in the face of crisis.

“We must support them so they can do their daily jobs of serving their communities by alleviating some financial pressures particularly for their immediate needs.

“Some pharmacists have lost their homes and yet they continue to serve on. Their welfare is of utmost importance and this fundraising effort is specifically set up to assist those who have lost part or all their home contents,” they say.

“Funds raised in addition to government relief subsidies will only be useful adjunct support so that the impact is lessened and a quick return to business is enabled with as much financial stress minimised as possible.”

The page adds that while government agencies and other bodies such as the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and PSA are working “tirelessly” through their own channels, particularly for medication supply, “we can all do our part to help the welfare of the community charmacists who are needing much practical relief themselves”.

It has already raised over $15,000. See here to donate and for more information, including how to access the fund.

Meanwhile pharmacist recruitment agency LocumCo is offering fee-free locum placement of pharmacists in bushfire-affected areas for the month of January.

“Pharmacists are at the heart of communities,” said LocumCo managing director Sue Muller.

“LocumCo would like to support both by offering fee-free locum placement of pharmacists in bushfire-affected areas.

“We hope this will allow local pharmacists to keep delivering vital services while also having enough personal capacity to emotionally, mentally and physically support whatever other activities they need to do in their community outside of the pharmacy.”

Those interested can contact LocumCo on 1800 357 001 or at jobs@locumco.com.au (eligibility criteria applies).

Pharmacy Guild national president George Tambassis has alerted members who are in fire-affected areas and have any needs or concerns – be it medicine supply, financial pressure, clinical query or workplace-related – to contact their Guild branch for assistance or phone him directly.

“We want to help, and we are looking at a range of practical measures to try to assist pharmacies in the immediate aftermath and also in the longer term recovery phase,” said Mr Tambassis.

The PSA has also highlighted that members who are experiencing challenges in delivering care to their local communities can email bushfires@psa.org.au. and the PSA will pass on the requirements to the relevant State and or Commonwealth Departments.

These issues may be in the context of logistical supplies of medicines, workforce support, power interruption, payment of medicines, and mental health support for staff.

“At this time we need to focus on the immediate logistical support that pharmacists on the front line need, then we can focus on ensuring the need for adequate disaster planning involving community pharmacy, and reducing the barriers that pharmacists face in providing emergency supplies of medicines,” said PSA national president Chris Freeman.

Please remember the Pharmacists’ Support Service (PSS) stands ready to help pharmacists and pharmacy assistants suffering stress or anxiety in these very difficult times. The PSS can be contacted on 1300 244 910.

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