PHARMACIES all over the county are dealing with a tidal wave of demand during the coronavirus crisis.
And like other health workers on the front-line, pharmacists are helping to accommodate, reassure, support and counsel members of the public during the pandemic.
“We are a shoulder to cry on,” says Nigel Moloney, co-owner and supervisor pharmacist at CarePlus Pharmacy Carrigaline, who has a staff of six.
“People come here for information, advice, reassurance and face-to-face contact. The pharmacy is often the first port of call for people. We provide a listening ear.”
The pharmacist is the first vital contact for a lot of people in the community when they are ill, or when a family member is ill.
“And it is an accessible port in the current pandemic storm.
Playing a critical role in the health-care field, the pharmacist provides patients with medicine and medical advice when they need to recover from illnesses and injuries.
“We talk to people about the proper use of medication, medicine for specific symptoms or issues and advise on the correct use of over-the- counter medicines,” says Nigel.
Pharmacy staff in Ireland were run off their feet when Covid-19 first hit the country.
“The month of March was extraordinarily busy,” says Nigel, a dad to three daughters.
“There was an element of panic buying, especially for products such as Calpol, Nurofen, thermometers and hand-sanitisers.
“That demand has tapered off in the last couple of weeks and everybody is reassured that there is enough to go round.
“We limited prescriptions to a month’s supply to maintain the supply chain and to prevent bulk-buying, protecting all our customers, making sure they all received their medications.
“In March we had a larger volume of people queuing outside for supplies. There is no problem now,” adds Nigel.
“Our staff were excellent in maintaining social-distancing and they catered for everybody coming to the pharmacy for supplies without too much delay.
“We set up a temporary counter with a Perspex front to dispense medicines and other products people needed.”
Nigel often puts in a 10 to 12 hour day, six days a week, now that the pandemic is a serious issue for public health.
“We also open from 9.30 to 12.30 on Saturday mornings to accommodate the GPs and HSE healthcare services in the area. I come in to work at 7am every morning to sort the back-log of prescriptions and get the stock ready before the customers arrive.”
He is grateful for the extra hour of daylight in the evenings in recent weeks.
“I can spend a bit more time with the girls who are missing their friends,” says Nigel, who lives in Ladysbridge. “The weekends are precious.
“It is hard on them with no school or no interaction with their friends.”
Nigel has found a healthy way to switch off from the long days working on his feet behind the counter in the pharmacy.
“I recently invested in a bike and discovered a lovely 6km loop near my home. So I get out and cycle 2km from my home along the route at the weekend. Being out in the fresh air is a tonic.”
Nigel says because CarePlus Pharmacy is situated near the HSE Primary Care Centre, offering a range of services, and is near to numerous crèches in Carrigaline, the staff have a lot of social interaction with young mums in the area.
“It’s been a strong business from day one,” says Nigel, who has been running the pharmacy since August, 2017.
“And we have a strong business from mother and baby. Our CarePlus Baby Club is very popular with young mothers. Members get a welcoming gift on joining the club, they receive up-to-date newsletters on the advancement of products and they can avail of a discount in the pharmacy.”
There are other perks for the mums.
“There’s a free baby weighing in-store,” says Nigel. “We issue the mums with a disc on joining the Baby Club and there was a huge up-take from mums in the area to get involved, and the club provided a good connection between the mums as well.”
The older patrons are looked after too.
“Older people who are cocooning or who don’t have family support can receive their prescription electronically from their GP. When it is filled; we can deliver the prescription to their home free of charge. They don’t have to leave home. They are free to phone us here as well with any queries during opening hours.”
Everyone is looked after.
“Our new and improved CarePlus App allows you to order your prescription with your local CarePlus Pharmacy, get advice via our Health and Wellness section, check your BMI on our calculator, and locate your nearest CarePlus Pharmacy using our store locator.”
CarePlus Pharmacy, a vital service with friendly professional staff, is a huge asset to the Carrigaline Community.
Susan Cadden, who works in the pharmacy, also helps the homeless community in her professional capacity as an outreach worker.
“I liaise with the wonderful support services in Cork,” says Susan. “Last September, Nigel offered me 10 hours in the community as an outreach pharmacist.
“I work two and a half days in the pharmacy and I work 10 extra hours out in the community.
What does she do in her role supporting the homeless?
“I go to residential settings and shelters, offering support and advice about medical issues,” says Susan.
“I check if anyone needs medical materials and I deliver supplies.
“Patient counselling is part of my role as well as delivering and sometimes administering necessary medicines. I find the experience is brilliant for my practice and I was very excited to take it on.
“Helping people who can’t always get help is rewarding. I have skills from my practice that I can bring to the community, even though I have a lot to learn,” says Susan.
“It has opened up a whole new world for me, working with brilliant support services and volunteers in Cork.”
What has Susan, who hails from Monaghan, learned about Cork?
“I think Cork is the most patriotic county of all. Cork people are very proud of their city and county. They will tell you where to park, where to eat and where to go!”
An, in helping the most vulnerable in the community, she is making her own valuable contribution in her adopted home.
CarePlus Pharmacy Estuary Business & Technology Park, Kilnagleary, Carrigaline, Co.Cork.
As the Coronavirus accelerates, people across the country are hearing and answering the call of duty.
At the HC21 64,000 square ft site in Blarney that services hospitals and medical facilities with medical supplies and equipment, warehouse manager David Deasy is shifting current employees to support increased demand for vital medical equipment.
“Having such a great bunch of employees makes things a whole lot easier,” says David, who lives in Killeens.
“We are working two shifts, supplying the hospitals with beds, hoists, wheelchairs, paediatric equipment, and consumable goods.
“Getting the ventilators to the intensive care units as soon as possible is of utmost importance during the pandemic.
“The frontline health care workers urgently need the necessary equipment to save lives as soon as we can get it to them.”
The great bunch of lads at HC21 don’t clock out.
“We’re working around the clock to supply healthcare people working on the frontline,” says David.
“The demand for medical equipment is huge. And the engineers, drivers, and warehouse operators, are all extremely busy.
There is out-bound freight and in-bound freight moving all day every day on site. The supply chain has to be maintained.”
HC21 employs 560 staff, including 83 engineers. A total of 267 HC21 employees are based in the Republic of Ireland.
“We supply hospitals and care facilities across the country and beyond,” says David.
He is proud that he and his crew are responding to Ireland’s call to fight Coronavirus
“It is very rewarding, knowing that we can make a difference,” says David.
“Myself and the team are very proud to be involved in helping the collective efforts of the dedicated people working on the front-line. We are doing our bit.”
David and his hard-working team are a vital cog in the wheels that re keeping the hospitals operating during this pandemic, helping save lives every day.
“It is an unprecedented time in our lives. And it is a very challenging time,” adds David.
It’s not all bad.
“We have a great canteen here!
“It’s not the same sociable atmosphere with social distancing, but we can still get a decent cuppa.
“We are drinking a fair bit of coffee every day! It keeps us going.”
David says there is one advantage of working through the lockdown..
“It’s great I can leave the house to go to work,” says David. “I can support the team.”
And he can support his wife and two children.
“That’s important too,” says David. “My mother, in her 70s, is cocooning now. I haven’t seen her for a month.”
But his nearest and dearest are nearby.
“I live 3km away in Killeens,” says David. “I could walk to work.”
He could. But not now.
“I’m a kilometre to far!” says David.
“But look, things will be better when we get through this, please God, and get back to normal.”
But for now, David Deasy will keep the wheels of H2C1 well-oiled, delivering vital supplies to all the other heroes working day and night to save lives.
- Healthcare21 is one of the largest private specialist sales marketing and solutions providers to healthcare community in Ireland and in the UK — from the patient’s home to the hi-tech suite in the largest hospital.
- HC21 Blarney warehouse services hospitals and care facilities across the country and beyond.