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Supporting communities through COVID-19, Terry White Chemmart

Posted on August 17 2020

Pictured left to right - Sobia Hashmi and Irfan Hashmi, Community Pharmacists Terry White Chemmart

During this time, we want to tell the stories of inspiring South Australians who are working hard to make a difference in their communities.  The following is a guest post from Irfan Hashmi who has recently joined as a member with the Australia Day Council of South Australia through his local pharmacy Terry White Chemmart Cumberland Park

Irfan Hashmi is a pharmacist originally from Pakistan, he arrived in Australia in 2003 with his wife Sobia (both students at the time) and young family.  Irfan and Sobia are passionate community pharmacists.  After qualifying for Australia and attaining registration as a pharmacist, Irfan secured his first job in regional Australia where he felt the shortage of pharmacies and health professionals. He also observed that there were many regional areas that had limited access to pharmacies and people living in these communities had to travel long distances to acquire their medications. Irfan spent months undertaking research to understand the needs of these communities including the need for a local presence of a pharmacy.

In 2007 Irfan and Sobia managed to open their first pharmacy in Risdon in May followed by a pharmacy in Coober Pedy and Orroroo and in 2008 they opened a pharmacy in Quorn.  In 2018 Irfan bought TerryWhite Chemmart Cumberland Park and Keens Healthsave Pharmacy in Merbein in 2019.  The main purpose of these pharmacies was to improve local access to medications ultimately enabling improved health outcomes for communities living in these rural areas.  These pharmacies have not only fulfilled the local medication needs but also helped detect early signs of greater health concerns that would have otherwise only been detected in advanced stages.

Through the development of these regional pharmacies job opportunities were created within the local community.  Furthermore, local businesses benefitted by engaging local builders, sign writers and printing services.  This business development boosted local tourism as those travelling to outback regions would stop at these small towns and drop into the local pharmacy for any emergency needs or to replenish regular medications placing tourist minds at ease.

These pharmacies are culturally and linguistically diverse and employ staff from Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan, Chinese, African, Arabic, Gujrati, Sri Lankan, Korean, Bangladeshi, Italian, Filipino, Egyptian backgrounds and there have been many other ethnicities who have worked with Irfan and the team over the last 13 years.

Throughout COVID-19, Irfan has been supporting and giving back to the community and providing free flu vaccinations was one way to provide impact during this time.  This support enabled connection with the community along with offering protection against a disease that can reduce the burden on GPs and hospitals. The culturally and linguistically diverse staff working across these pharmacies have reached out and supported many diverse community members and created an inclusive and welcoming environment.  

In an effort to reach out to vulnerable community members such as new migrants, refugees, people with a disability, international students etc during this time Irfan has been developing and delivering off-site pharmacy clinics in offices, temples, mosques and community centres.  

During the time of heavier COVID-19 restrictions in South Australia, Irfan's pharmacy enabled deliveries of medications to ensure that people remained in the safety of their homes.

To date 1300 vaccines have been administered out of which 600 were free and the flu clinics are continuing furthermore, this whole initiative was fully funded through Irfan's pharmacy.

Looking to the future Irfan plans to expand this program and use the learnings from this time such as the model of community engagement needed to increase overall health literacy and awareness.  Furthermore, Irfan is keen to create a sustainable awareness campaign that can lead to a greater understanding of immunization, safety, and efficacy of vaccines.  With this initiative Irfan hopes to open a dialogue where pharmacists can play a greater role and be included in programs such as the National Immunization Program (NIP), allowing to vaccinate 3 years and above and increase the immunization portfolio to include COVID and travel vaccines.

The Australia Day Council of South Australia welcomes Terry White Chemmart as part of its valued membership.  To learn more about our membership opportunities head to Australia Day Council Membership

To learn more about Terry White Chemmart


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