Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist February 2011 Contents Vol. 30 -- February #02
Gracemere -- isolated but
The flooding in Queensland last month
had a direct impact on PSA Queensland
President Bruce Elliot who manages
five pharmacies, one of which was
completely isolated by the floods.
Bruce has four pharmacies in Yeppoon
which were unaffected but the fifth
pharmacy under his management,
at Gracemere, just west of
Rockhampton, was a different story.
'The town has about 8,000 residents
but also services a much greater area
in what used to be known as Fitzroy
' he said.
"This region was isolated and so
Gracemere became the hub for health
services for the area, with Queensland
Health establishing a special clinic
to help service the healthcare needs
of Gracemere residents and also
everyone from the outlying areas
who were also isolated, including Mt
Morgan, Bouldercombe and Stanwell.
'This in part has contributed to
unprecedented demands on the
pharmacy and in particular the
pharmacists who are playing an integral
role in triage and primary care services.
This was necessary because many
patients in the area were used to going
to Rockhampton for their services but
were now unable to do so.
'The pharmacy served record
customer numbers and had
consistently high script volumes and
OTC sales for the entire duration
of the week and quite often had
customers queued out of the
A result of this was hugely increased
pressures on the Gracemere
Pharmacy, which was also affected by
'We normally have one pharmacist
on duty but with the massive
rise in demand have put on three
pharmacists to try to cope with it,
'Some of these pharmacists, like
myself, have had to be ferried in on
the SES boats to get to work.
'In addition we had some of our usual
staff who live in Rocky unable to get
to work so we had to find extra staff.
We were able to use some pharmacy
staff who normally work in Rocky but
couldn't get there.
'The extra pressure on all the staff
was enormous and we had to be very
careful to ensure they were getting
enough rest because they were
working so hard. We were coping
with a huge volume of prescriptions
in addition to a great amount of triage
work and providing primary health-
'Nurses at the clinic would send
people to us for assessment if they
had doubts about their conditions and
we in turn were referring them to GPs
With all the additional pressures
on the pharmacy and its staff,
logistics management became a
Bruce said balancing having enough
staff to cope with demand --
in addition to opening seven days a
week from a usual five-and-a-half-day
roster -- and ensuring the staff all had
adequate rest was a challenge.
'The staff were just phenomenal --
pharmacists, pharmacy assistants
and front of shop. They rose to the
occasion and went out of their way to
make sure they could help their fellow
Queenslanders during the crisis.
'We also had the logistical nightmare
of ensuring we had stock. Every
day the situation changed with the
horrific floods down south, more road
closures and other impediments to
stock movement which meant we
had to work day-by-day on where
stock was coming from and what we
'We also had to plan for when the
stock arrived so that customers could
get the supplies they needed.
The pharmacy was also the centre
for supplies needed by emergency
workers such as first aid kits, ensuring
their vaccinations were up to date and
they had all their requirements.
If all of this was not enough of a
challenge, the aftermath of the flood
peak brought new issues, including an
outbreak of gastro and skin disease.
'We have had a lot of cases of gastro
which we are treating but so far our
biggest problem after the flood peak
has been sand flies. We are selling a
lot of repellent but also treatments
for the irritations of the bites and then
infections where bites have been
infected by contaminated water.
If the constant demand at the
dispensary was not challenge enough,
the paperwork built up as well.
'We have done 300 owing
prescriptions when our normal volume
would be between 10 and 15. This is
because of people unable to get
into Rocky, perhaps visitors to the
area and so on, but all in all it adds
a huge administration burden to the
' Bruce said.
'We have to follow up to get the
original prescription and while this
may be a matter of little significance
Bruce Elliot (right) on the way to work at Gracemere.
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