What’s the 2018 Pharmacy of the Year up to now?

We catch up with Southcity Pharmacy Wagga co-proprietor Luke van der Rijt, just over one month after the win

AJP: What’s life been like since being recognised as the Guild 2018 Pharmacy of the Year?

Life has been hectic, but great! We’ve received an overwhelming response from our customers, suppliers and local health care professionals, who we’re all thrilled and want to share in the win.

It’s really fantastic to be associated with so many great people and we’ve been lapping it up!

Team morale is also at an all-time high in store. The Southcity Pharmacy team did a fantastic job getting us to this point and it’s great they’re recognised for this achievement. 

Luke van der Rijt (far right) with customers.
Luke van der Rijt (far right) with customers.

AJP: Did you celebrate with customers and staff when you got back with the award?

We did. We had a morning tea which the Guild encouraged us to do after our win. We’d never held a morning tea, so we were nervous about how it would go. Thankfully we had a great response from our customers and partners, with over 100 people attending.

Our staff were also fantastic and cooked a heap of cakes and goodies for everyone, so again it was a great team effort. And our customers loved it, so we’ll be sure to host another morning tea in the future. 

AJP: Are there any changes or new initiatives coming up for Southcity Pharmacy in the near future?

Yes there are! We’re working with the local respiratory specialists and the respiratory department at Novartis to continue the expansion of our COPD screening plan. We’re aiming to develop a paid COPD screening and monitoring plan that can become a staple of what community pharmacies offer.

We have also joined a steering committee for our Primary Health Networks At Home Palliative Care program. In short, 11 PHNs have been granted federal funding nationally with the overreaching purpose of the program to increase the availability and equity of Palliative Care services across our region for those wishing to die at home.

Our role is to make sure pharmacy services are incorporated in this process, to ensure there’s always access to medication required for palliative care, and that we have access to local counselling services so we’re able appropriately refer cares and loved ones that may require help.

The awards on display at Southcity Pharmacy Wagga's celebratory morning tea.
The awards on display at Southcity Pharmacy Wagga’s celebratory morning tea.

AJP: What advice do you have for other pharmacies that want to stand out from the crowd?

You need to be good at the bread and butter stuff, things like dispensing, customer service and ensuring quality use of medicines. Then you need to develop some unique programs that benefit your customers and community.

My advice would be to approach or get involved with the Clinical Council of your local Primary Health Network. Here you can not only find out what the health issues are in your local area, but also work with other health care professionals to help solve them.


Here’s Luke chatting with AJP immediately after the win at APP2018

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