Pharmacists risk health to serve community

Jim Elder has worked as a pharmacist for 62 years. Photo: Courtesy of The Mercury Bay Informer.

A former pharmacist is paying tribute to colleagues who are risking their health to help the community.

Jim Elder, from Blenheim, worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than six decades.

The former Tokoroa mayor says pharmacy staff are among the most at risk in the country from catching Covid-19 and deserve recognition for all they are doing.

“I was a pharmacist for 62 years, so I do have a bias.

“However, I want to congratulate pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who are doing such a great job in all pharmacies around the country. Pharmacy expects that every patient will have an illness or be in contact with someone who is ill.

“That makes it more likely they will come close to someone who has the Covid-19 virus or is in contact with someone who has it. Pharmacy staff are the most at-risk front-line health care workers in the country.”

All pharmacies in Blenheim are open during lockdown. Extra precautions are in place to protect both staff and customers.

Manager and pharmacist at UFS on Queen Street in Blenheim Chris Furness says staff have been working hard.

“We are working well and everyone’s putting their best foot forward.

After an initial rush to stockpile prescriptions, people are relaxing a bit, he says

“Like all pharmacies, we are operating under strict Ministry of Health guidelines and I’d like to reassure people that we are open every day. While the focus is on prescriptions, we are available for other items too such as vitamins.”

Jim, who spent some time working as a pharmacist in Blenheim from 2009 until 2013 before moving back to Whitianga. He retired back to Blenheim in 2019.

He says pharmacy staff deserve credit for all they are doing to help the public during lockdown.

“When the Prime Minister and Health Officials speak of front-line health care workers, they cite doctors and nurses. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are front line health care workers, too.

“At a time when hospitals are reducing admissions and are conducting consultations by phone, pharmacy staff are fronting up to every patient who requires their services.

“Scripts are still being written and every one of them is received and dispensed at a pharmacy. The workload can be excessive and demanding, with not all patients being kind or considerate.

“Pharmacies have been doing an excellent job and we are fortunate to have a nation-wide chain of readily accessible health care centres, with people who are providing dedicated service to their communities,” he says.

The Pharmacetical Society of New Zealand is providing members with pharmacy-specific guidance throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

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