Hitting the road and delivering medicines to patients isolated some distance from the pharmacy has become a normal part of business operations at Waikerie Pharmacy in South Australia.
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.
Having become proprietor some 10 years ago and building up to a staff of 20, the pharmacy services a population of close to 3,000 in a region two hours north-east of Adelaide.
“When COVID-19 hit we quickly put a lot of procedures in place so that we could continue operating safely for our staff and patients,” he said.
“Some were things everyone was doing like ensuring the pharmacy was as clean as possible and that patients were social distancing and applying hand hygiene procedures.
“But we went further, including offering a home medicine service even though there have been no COVID-19 cases nearby.
“We did this to ensure people can stay at home if they choose to.
“When the Government announced Home Medicines Service funding we jumped on that straight away so our patients can stay at home and we can help them get their medicines.
“Up to this point we have done over 2,000 kilometres delivering essential medicines to our patients.
“It has slowed up a bit now that thankfully South Australia is in a good spot.”
Mr Lloyd said a positive development was when the South Australian Government clarified that pharmacists could offer vaccination services outside of the pharmacy.
“As a result of that, we have been able to offer these services, especially to people where doctors were not visiting their towns and they weren’t able to come into the pharmacy to get their vaccinations.
“We were able to provide those services in their homes.”
Mr Lloyd said the pharmacy had to stay vigilant as the situation changed almost daily.
“We are always keeping an eye on what’s happening down the track so if something changes and something needs to be adapted we’re ready to do it.
“We changed the way we practise quite quickly.
“When people started getting concerned, we began serving all our patients outside of the pharmacy to ensure there was less potential to spread the virus than if people were in the pharmacy.
“One positive from decisions like the Government’s clarification regarding vaccinations is that it’s wonderful to know that pharmacy is now able to provide these services and that we are recognised as frontline health services and as being needed in our community.”