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Champions shine at Pharmacy Connect

Current and former Pharmacy Guild of Australia Pharmacy of the Year winners will be panelists at a special Pharmacy Connect conference breakfast session celebrating innovation.

The Celebrating Innovation panel session on 7 September will provide delegates with the opportunity to learn from the current and past Guild Pharmacy of the Year winners.

The session will provide delegates with a fantastic opportunity to hear how these community pharmacies were able to transform into leaders of the industry.

The Pharmacy of the Year winners presenting at the session will be Luke van der Rijt from Southcity Pharmacy in Wagga Wagga, the current Pharmacy of the Year; Lucy Walker from Terry White Chemmart Goondiwindi in QLD, the 2017 winner; and Swarup Afsar from Pharmacy 777 Nollamara in WA, the 2016 winner.

The winners will share their journeys; what worked and what didn’t, and the steps they took to innovate and implement change.

The three winners have fascinating and educational stories to tell.

Luke van der Rijt recognises the pharmacy’s staff as a key asset and driving force behind the success of Southcity Pharmacy.

Mr van der Rijt said the big difference between his pharmacy and other pharmacies is that it had the staff able to deliver services in the way that patients wanted them delivered.

“We have the time to be able to sit down with them and see what they want and what they need,” he said.

“Because we have a big staff who are experienced and knowledgeable we can provide exceptional customer service, on top of the unique professional services we offer. We have the team who are able to deliver what the patient wants and needs.”

Mr van der Rijt said Southcity Pharmacy had worked hard to create an environment where pharmacists and all the staff felt comfortable and empowered to make business decisions that embraced innovation, improved workflow and enhanced patient care.

Pharmacy 777 in Nollamara has implemented an innovative mental health service, including counselling for patients, which has helped to distinguish it from the strong competition of a number of nearby pharmacies.

Proprietor Swarup Afsar said the service was developed in close consultation and collaboration with other healthcare professionals.

“When we designed our Mental Health protocol, we went to see eight GPs in the local area along with two psychiatrists,” he said.

“This consultation resulted in us promoting compliance checks more consistently and helping patients seek cognitive behavioural therapies such as counselling and hypnotherapy.

“We have employed a counsellor who is also a hypnotherapist to assist our patients with the cognitive behavioural therapy, quit smoking and lose weight.

“Our Mental Health Module looks at every mental illness sufferer as a whole.”

Terry White Chemmart in Goodiwindi has found being an active part of the local community to be one of the underlying principles behind its success.

With a population of some 5500 people, the vibrant town is agriculture-based but in recent times as become a centre for health services; services which the pharmacy has adapted and transformed to help meet the needs of the community.

Lucy Walker said that in a small town, it was very important and rewarding to be part of the local community.

“We get to better know our customers, listen to them and care for them,” she said.

“You will find the pharmacy at most events around town; like under 8s day, dental health in the park, aged care expo, colour run, cotton growers picnics, talks to farmers at the Moonie Crossroads, community garden days and cancer morning teas.”

Our pharmacy champions will be attending Pharmacy Connect at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, September 7-8. Register your attendance online at

Think your pharmacy is up to the Pharmacy of the Year challenge? The 2019 Guild Pharmacy of the Year competition marks the 20th year the Guild has been celebrating excellence in pharmacy practice. If your pharmacy has what it takes to be our next champion, enter online at

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