Celebrating the work of an essential support network: the pharmacists of western Sydney

This Sunday, 25 September, the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) pharmacy departments are celebrating World Pharmacists Day, and this year’s theme, pharmacy united in action, honours the role of every pharmacist, pharmacy technician and supporting staff of pharmacy in improving health outcomes for patients.

WSLHD hospital pharmacists are an important resource for doctors, nurses and allied health practitioners as they support health teams to manage and manufacture complex and highly specialised medicines for both inpatients and outpatients and ensure the ongoing safe and quality use of medicines through research and education.

Hospital pharmacists “strive to continually innovate our services to ensure patients benefit from evidence-based clinical expertise and improved clinical care,” said Westmead Hospital clinical pharmacy manager Melissa Tao.

Innovating services have been a particular focus for the pharmacy team throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. One example of this was the setting up, and implementation of, COVID-19 take-home medication packs.

“In collaboration with the COVID-19 Disaster Unit, we developed a medication pack solution, tailored to patients’ symptoms, that empowered patients with mild covid symptoms to be able to confidently manage their symptoms at home,” explained Melissa.

“In addition to this, our antimicrobial stewardship pharmacist Jenny Park, with the support of other pharmacists, spent countless hours providing education and assisting medical teams with COVID-19 medication information and optimising therapy for the patients.”

The pharmacy team also assisted in the delivery of COVID-19 antivirals when they were first approved in Australia to ensure patients in need could access their treatments.

Various patients have reported a great sense of gratitude and relief knowing our pharmacists were familiar with the complexities of their medications, especially those dealing with chronic conditions or those who were admitted to hospital for management of COVID-19,” Melissa said.

“These patients were comforted to see a familiar face – a comfort that would have surely been welcomed in a time where patients were prone to feeling isolated.”

Innovating patient care was also demonstrated by the cancer day care pharmacists who provided, and continue to provide,  chemotherapy and supportive care information at chairside to patients.

“During the peak of the pandemic, we had to reduce patient contact to reduce the potential of COVID-19 transmission, so we creatively used three-way video interpreters chairside, via mobile iPads on stands, to enhance communication and ensure that cancer patients didn’t miss out on vital care information,” Melissa said.

“Our pharmacists have really gone above and beyond, and we would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of all pharmacy staff on this special day.”