We meet the finalists in the Guild Pharmacy of the Year competition: Lucy Walker Chemmart Goodiwindi
Being an active part of the local community is one of the underlying principles behind the success of Lucy Walker Chemmart in Goodiwindi on the border of Queensland and NSW.
With a population of some 5500 people, the vibrant town is agriculture-based but in recent times as become a centre for health services – services which the pharmacy has adapted and transformed to help meet the needs of the community.
Lucy Walker bought Lee’s Pharmacy, a well-established traditional pharmacy dependent on dispensary income, about five years ago and after a couple of years set about a major refit and rebranding to a Chemmart pharmacy.
“This allowed us access to more product ranges and to be able to implement more health services for our community,” she said.
Mrs Walker said that in a small town, it was very important and rewarding to be part of the local community.
“We get to better know our customers, listen to them and care for them,” she said.
“You will find the pharmacy at most events around town; like under 8s day, dental health in the park, aged care expo, colour run, cotton growers picnics, talks to farmers at the Moonie Crossroads, community garden days and cancer morning teas.
“In February we go teal for ovarian cancer, raising funds and awareness. Our customers enjoy teal cupcakes and nail polish, but they really love the information about the disease.
“We love doing blood pressure challenges in front of the store and encouraging farmers who might not go to the doctor to talk about their health.”
Mrs Walker, the mother of two young children, also presents to the local mothers’ group about on ways they can better manage their children when sick. These talks lead to a better understanding of how a pharmacist can help as well as attracting new customers for the pharmacy.
“We listened to our mums, now offering our consult rooms for breastfeeding and have a change table in our bathroom and even sponsoring a tent for mothers at the local picnic races,” Mrs Walker said.
“We also are part of the Gundy health care team.”
Mrs Walker said that dealing collaboratively with other health professionals in the area was important and before introducing any new service, representatives from the pharmacy will sit down and have lunch with the GPs to discuss how the service should work in Goodiwindi.
The pharmacy also recognises the value of its own community – the pharmacists and pharmacy staff – and Mrs Walker says part of the satisfaction for her staff is constantly being able to develop and learn.
“Keeping up to date is important for our staff and also for our customers,” Mrs Walker said.
“However, due to our remote location it can be difficult getting people to come out here and train staff when we are interested in a new product. Even though we can do online training, and the Guild Training is great, nothing beats face-to-face training.”
One way the pharmacy overcomes this hurdle is by using a four-seater plane.
“This means we can fly to Brisbane or Toowoomba and other places for training and go there and back in a day whereas driving would require at least two days and be disruptive to the pharmacy,” Mrs Walker said.
The pharmacists are encouraged to attend CPD and access the rural pharmacy allowances available as the pharmacy believes training helps the business succeed.
“Empowering our people with knowledge helps us better serve our customers,” Mrs Walker said.