My two week locum in Albury started on Monday. I arrived at the large Terry White Chemist in the main street and expected to be led straight to the dispensary, but that wasn’t so. After a quick orientation I was taken up a set of stairs and into the underbelly of this pharmacy. There were 7 staff at work here (3 pharmacists, including myself). Our sole purpose? To pack, prepare and distribute hundreds and hundreds of webster-paks to numerous nursing homes and community patients. This pharmacy looks after 700 webster-pak patients. My job for the last 3 days has been to check these packs, and check them very carefully. The systems in place here are sophisticated. This is pharmacy on a whole new level! Today I got a tour of the robot - The Meds Pro Webster Robot. Stocking it with 20 different meds at at time, it literally packs the webster for you. This is great for those common things like Panamax, aspirin, vitamin D, oh and Risperdal 0.5mg. There are 225 medications which can be used in the machine. The staff manually add extra tablets as needed and iron it closed. Then it is ready for checking. That’s where I come in, again and again and again. Each time I finish one group, there is another waiting. There is always a pharmacist on the ‘chair’ who follows up medication changes, patient profiles, prescriptions etc. I was only used to checking 20-odd community packs in my usual pharmacy. Suffice to say that after 4 full days of this, my neck is sore, my eyes are tired, but I am feeling very confident of my webster-pak checking ability.
It sounds terrible I know. And sometimes it is. When you reach in for another pack and its chock full of tablets that happen to be all white and similar sizes. I am squinting for that frusemide F-40 marking on the tablet, careful not to confuse it for aspirin which is thankfully embossed with a heart logo. I just have to shake the pack a few times to see it. But seriously, it is a great experience. That is what locum work and travelling is all about. Not many pharmacists have the opportunity to see aged care services like this on such a large scale.
One thing that surprised me is the amount of focus and dedication these staff have. I had thought that being ‘hidden’ from the pharmacy itself would give rise to more chit-chat and less productivity. That is certainly not the case. There is far less talking here than in any dispensary I’ve worked in. When I find a mistake and hand over a pack to be fixed, there is no comment. No-one is disgruntled. Everyone is happy to step up. Within minutes it is back on my desk. This is efficiency at its best. Now for blessed sleep, to rest my eyes for another day.