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Local chemist steps in to help community navigate proof of COVID-19 vaccinations

Blooms The Chemist Burwood Lorena Bravo

A well-known face in the community, Retail Manager Lorena Bravo has been at the helm of Blooms The Chemist in Burwood for five years. While the business has always gone above and beyond dispensing medication and supporting local community initiatives, the past two years of the pandemic has truly catapulted it to the frontline of safeguarding the community’s health and wellbeing.

Lorena is the kind of business manager who quickly steps in to meet a community need without necessarily seeking a financial reward – a prime example has been the way she and her team have been helping locals who struggled with the technological and administerial challenges of the State Government’s COVID-19 vaccination certification requirements.

“People were confused and started asking us to print things off the myGov website or look up their certificates for them,” she said.

Lorena said the demographic ranged from young people who were from overseas, to the elderly who did not have a smartphone and were not on social media. Many explained that their GPs were just too stretched to help them navigate the process.

“Many in our community speak little to no English and many don’t hold Medicare cards,” adds Lorena. “This created barriers for them, and official messaging often wasn’t in their preferred language, especially at the beginning of the vaccination program.”

Lorena and her team were happy to step in and assist, as at one point people were “coming into the pharmacy in droves” for support with downloading their vaccine certificates.

Grateful customers were keen to pay for these services, yet the Blooms The Chemist Burwood team waved any administrative fees, instead asking those who they’d helped if they would be happy to make a donation to Make-a-Wish Australia, a long-standing partner of Blooms The Chemist. Completely reliant on donations from the community, Make-a-Wish Australia grants the wishes of critically ill children, with over 850 kids around Australia currently waiting for their wish.

Through the generosity of the community, the pharmacy raised over $3000 in donations in just six weeks.

Lorena explains that many pharmacies were charging clients a fee if they were seeking help to navigate the vaccination requirements and myGov. “It can be a time-consuming task, but we didn’t feel it was necessary to ask for a payment for our support. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we need to support one another. The donation to Make-A-Wish felt like a win-win; we were able to support those kids’ wishes and make our customers happy at the same time. Some customers were grateful for our assistance, they left skipping out of the store, relieved that it was all sorted.”

After a challenging few months of COVID-19 restrictions, the team are pleased to see more of their customers coming in-store.

“Customers tell me we are a very community-oriented pharmacy; we remember names, it’s more of a personal experience. Many people pop in even when they’re not looking to fill a script or purchase something; they just come in for a chat. Customers are what we love to focus on, and all my team members are the same.”

The Blooms The Chemist Burwood team can be visited at 46 Railway Parade, Burwood NSW 2134, and contacted via (02) 9744 9508.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

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