When the new year was brought in nobody would have ever expected that these dark times would be ahead of us. We wanted to share with you a spotlight story that touched our hearts and filled us with pride.
Throughout this pandemic, so much has changed. People who have been either made redundant or furloughed have taken on jobs that they would never have expected. This is especially the case for David Cavan, a former wedding photographer, who hung up his camera, put on his mask and jumped straight into the driving seat of his Citroen Berlingo to help frontline staff deliver pharmaceutical supplies within the community for Clear Pharmacy.
What is the most challenging part about being on the frontline in the pharmacy industry?
To be honest, it has surprised me in lots of ways. Driving around the community delivering prescriptions, you soon realise how isolated some people are, even when they are living in a big Community. The biggest challenge is probably meeting the need, but the amazing staff who work in the pharmacies are working all the hours available to process and produce the prescriptions.
What is the day to day like delivering for Clear Pharmacy?
If I am working a full day, when I can, when the weather allows, I am cycling to the pharmacies, checking and cleaning the van, making sure all the surfaces are cleaned down. I then go into the pharmacy and pick up all the prescriptions. From there it really is a logistical process of working out the order of deliveries to make sure you are as efficient as possible with the time you have.
We cover quite a large area. At scheduled stages of the day, I head back to pick up new prescriptions. At the end of the day you bring back any prescriptions that couldn’t be fulfilled and pick up the nursing home orders. Then you finish by dropping them off. At the end of the day, if you have got the van cleared and been able to bring a smile to people's faces when delivering, you have a real sense of achievement.
Has anything surprised you since you started working with clear pharmacy?
Lots of things have surprised me when I started. The first being how hard the staff work in the stores. The level of concentration needed is impressive, especially with all the interruptions. One of the other things that has surprised me is that no matter how well you know an area, there always seems to be streets or areas that you aren’t aware of and for me that's one of the reasons social isolation happens for people. People just forget they are there.
Describe the transition process for anyone who might be willing to make the same transition as you did?
My transition has been really simple. Growing up I did lots of different jobs. Starting as a paper boy to working in a furniture store, then a clothes shop in the centre of Belfast, to coffee shop and even a chippie van at a major music festival. So I knew what it felt like to put in a day's work. For the past 10 years I have been growing my business, the moment it looked like our lives were going to be asked to be altered for the foreseeable future, I knew I needed to pivot. The hardest part for sure, was the internal dialogue about temporarily setting my business down and getting stuck into something else. I love being a photographer and I can’t wait to get back, but knew that I was in a fortunate position to be offered work, especially as I know, one of the things I am good at doing is doing nothing at all and needed a reason to get up and tackle the day.
What has this experience taught you? Anything additional you want to share?
The experience so far has been full of learning. Not just the obvious of learning what the staff in pharmacies get up to but I have been profoundly moved by the impact of the relationships pharmacists and their staff have with members of the community. I regularly deliver to people who ask personally for staff. There have been a few challenges that I wasn’t expecting too. I would regularly deliver to one house. I got to recognise the orders and where the house was in the community. When I would be walking up to the front door, I could see an elderly man in a hospital bed in the front room, we would wave and a member of his family would come to the door and collect the prescription. I loaded the van one Friday, and showed his prescription was one of the ones ready for delivery, so I made my way over to his house. As I walked up to the door, something felt strange.
As I got to the front door, I glanced in the front window as I had done many times before, looking forward to getting a big wave back at me. I saw an empty bed that had its sheets stripped. Initially confused, my heart soon sank as I saw someone open the door and informed me that the gentleman had passed away the previous evening. I never met him face to face, but only through a window, but was awakened to the cruel fact that you never know what is going on in other people's lives. I brought the news back to the pharmacy. When I informed the staff, you could see that whilst it wasn’t the first time and for sure won’t be the last time one of their patients dies, it still affected them.
It is true when they said that ‘not all heroes wear capes’. They might not even wear scrubs. But they are working night and day to ensure that the world keeps going. They stock shelves in our stores, have changed jobs to support their community as delivery drivers for food & medicine supplies and they’re even volunteering to be trained in fields where they can help. Manufacturing companies put their skills towards making masks and ventilators and scientists work tirelessly to find a cure. To say we are all in this together is an understatement. We really hope that you enjoyed reading this as much as we did writing it.
Please share your stories with us, we would LOVE to hear them and i’m sure others would too. There is more than one way to bring a smile to people’s faces.
Take care and stay safe.
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