Highlighting the heroes


Irfan and Sobia Hashmi have been named ‘Pharmacy Heroes’ for 2020 by the Pharmacy Guild

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has this year been showcasing the work that community pharmacies have done and continue to do during the challenging times that have defined 2020.

It launched a new “2020 Community Pharmacy Heroes” campaign, for which it has regularly been sharing stories of nominated pharmacies and pharmacists.

This week South Australian pharmacists Irfan Hashmi and his wife Sobia Hashmi were named as the latest “pharmacy heroes” for 2020.

Mr Hashmi said the couple began a program of free flu shots for vulnerable patients in their Adelaide pharmacy, but the strong response has seen it extended to their pharmacies in regional areas.

“We went out and we did 18 different outdoor flu clinics and that’s how we came to know there are so many different communities living in Adelaide and they are not getting much funding from the Government because they may be isolated and this also makes them vulnerable,” said Mr Hashmi.

Sobia Irfan and Irfan Hashmi

“We met some Brazilian, Colombian, Armenian communities, Syrian refugees living in Adelaide and they had no idea what a pharmacist’s role is in Australia.

“The perception is when they are not feeling well, they go to the hospital. They think that if that option is not available, then they go to the GP.

“We told them that if they had minor ailments, or needed a flu vaccination, then come to the pharmacy. We explained that I’m a trained pharmacist and I can help them with these things and also there are a lot of things we can do.”

Looking after patients who couldn’t come into the pharmacy also was a priority during the COVID-19 lockdown and the pharmacy team distributed 265 free hampers of sanitiser and other protective items to patients who were in nursing homes and to those receiving home delivery services.

Mr Hashmi described more about the work he was doing in the AJP here.

Another Community Pharmacy Hero for 2020 is Connie Arronis, Pharmacist Manager of Illawong Discount Drug Store, who was also recognised in in News Corp Australia’s ‘Thanks A Million’ campaign and named 2020 National Pharmacist of the Year by Discount Drug Stores.

Proprietor of the Amcal Pharmacy Steve Large, based in Humpty Doo in the Northern Territory, is another pharmacist who has been working hard to react to the demands of the COVID-19 crisis and adapt to ensure patient needs were met and services continued to be delivered.

Mr Large said in the early days of the pandemic the workload in the pharmacy was significantly higher than usual, with lots of panic buying and high volumes of scripts dispensed. However, overall one of the biggest impacts has been on trade with a huge reduction in the number of travellers.

Pharmacists and staff at Amcal Coffs Harbour were also nominated in the campaign. Located next to the base hospital’s COVID-19 clinic placed the pharmacy in the thick of local health efforts to battle the virus.

Pharmacy Manager Sonya Elley said that in light of the fact they were dealing with an unknown in COVID-19, the focus was on making the best-informed decisions for patients and staff.

Finally Waikerie Pharmacy in South Australia was nominated in the Community Pharmacy Heroes campaign, as delivering medicines to patients isolated some distance from the pharmacy becoming a normal part of business operations.

Proprietor Nathan Lloyd said some deliveries were to patients up to 30 minutes’ drive from the pharmacy.

“But we do this to ensure our patients get their medicines,” he said.

See all stories from the Guild on YouTube here

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