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As far as tumultuous years go, 2020 has been the pinnacle for Rebecca Young.
The owner of Capital Chemist Chisholm ironically began the year on a career-high, when she won the prestigious Pharmacy Guild of Australia award for Pharmacy of the Year 2020 in March.
Yet there wasn’t much time to take it all in, given the COVID-19 pandemic had just reached Australian shores and tensions were running high.
For Rebecca and her team, supporting the community in one of the busiest and most challenging times in Australia’s pharmaceutical industry would come first, in place of celebrations.
“We were meant to be celebrating on the Gold Coast, where the award was to be presented at the national pharmacy conference, which would have been a highlight, but because it was the height of COVID and everyone was in lock-down it was hard to get excited,” Rebecca says.
“We were really just trying to do our jobs, keeping up with demand and looking after the community.”
Born in New Zealand, Rebecca joined Capital Chemist Chisholm in 2009, following in her father’s footsteps to pursue a career in the industry.
“My father owned a pharmacy so I worked there from a young age, and since then I’d always wanted a career in the health industry,” she says.
Rebecca studied in New Zealand and worked for various pharmacies before moving to London where she became registered in the UK.
She moved to Australia with her husband, winemaker Hamish Young of Mada Wines, and worked in the Barossa Valley for two years before moving to Canberra.
“I was very interested in the Capital Chemist group when we arrived here because I loved the way they gave back to the community, that they’re focused on health services and the way the patient is at the centre of everything they do,” Rebecca says.
Rebecca has been the owner at Capital Chemist Chisholm for ten years, and since then the business has grown to become an industry leader.
“When I first started we didn’t have any consulting rooms and there was only one pharmacist on duty,” she says.
“We recently did a major shop refit, and we now have a dispensing robot, three consulting rooms and up to four pharmacists on duty which has further enabled us to expand our health services offering. We provide a wide range of health services including sleep apnoea, wound care, pharmacist administered vaccinations, medication reviews, weight loss programs, diabetes screening and leave certificates.
“All of our staff are trained in mental health first aid and supporting our patients with dementia. We also run a lot of health promotions and participate in many community events. We work closely with The Heart Foundation and cancer support groups. It’s a really lovely community and we have lots of regular customers.”
With no two days the same, Rebecca’s workload is usually a blend of two areas: “business” (managing and training staff, meetings and stock management) and “health” (patient consultations, prescriptions.)
Most of her team have been with her for eight years, and Rebecca says one constant is that they’ve always embraced change – none more so than this year, when they faced their biggest hurdle yet.
“The pandemic forced the industry to change rapidly when everything was so unknown,” says Rebecca.
“Suddenly I was trying to look after the team, making sure they were healthy and safe when they’re working on the frontline – because if a staff member became infected we would have had to close the business.
“We were managing increased anxiety and a change in workflow. We had to change hygiene measures, run split teams so we weren’t overlapping in case someone became unwell, and we also had to adapt with the new world of telehealth, electronic scripts and expand our delivery service. There were so many new policies, and procedures and changes almost overnight.
“The team have been amazing though, they stepped up with incredible courage and positivity. They knew our patients and our community needed them so they continued to adapt and do what they needed to do so we could continue to help people.”
Rebecca says the team also made a habit of checking in on their older or more vulnerable patients who may not have had a support network.
“We had a lot of our regular patients who were very grateful for our high-quality healthcare, we were given lots of baked goods flowers and coffee to say thank you which was so lovely,” Rebecca says.
Despite what the rest of 2020 throws at them, Rebecca says Capital Chemist Chisholm will continue to adapt in these rapidly changing times.
“Being at the forefront of this industry, there are lots of exciting things happening. There will be more electronic prescriptions, and pharmacists will hopefully be able to provide the COVID vaccine in the future. It’s forever changing and there are lots of exciting opportunities ahead.”
What: Capital Chemist Chisholm
Where: Shop 7 Chisholm Shopping Centre, Halley Street, Chisholm
When: Monday-Friday 8.30 am–7 pm, Saturday 9 am–5 pm, Sunday and Public Holiday’s 10 am–4 pm