“COVID-19 has changed our industry and has reminded the public how important pharmacists are in being the most readily accessible health professionals available to the public,” Mr Denham said.
“Pharmacy staff have been critical frontline health professionals during COVID-19 and instrumental in caring for and keeping our communities safe.
“As with the wider society, there are many challenges faced by pharmacists during the pandemic, and the importance of their role has never been greater.”
He is now Discount Drug Store pharmacist in Orange, and lives with his young family in North Orange.
He says his typical day as a pharmacist involves dispensing medications for a wide range of conditions, advising customers on the best treatments for minor ailments, vaccinating at-risk customers, supporting young parents make healthy decisions for their children/babies, helping older people to better use their medications, and encouraging and supporting his staff through tough times.
“When times are hard, as with COVID-19, and health statuses change, accessibility to health care remains essential,” Mr Denham said.
“Day-to-day, we are still focused as part of a healthcare team to promote good health choices, but this now includes educating on social distancing, hand washing and face masks, and encouraging those with symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested and to follow up with their general practitioners.”
He explained that working through the COVID-19 restrictions has been a great privilege, but also really hard work.
“It’s been a time when all of us − the public, and staff as well − were quite scared about what could result if a significant outbreak took hold of our community,” he said.
“The amount of work increased as there is more liaising with doctors’ surgeries, and people are more in need than normal.
“Being a trusted healthcare professional to talk to for those who were or are self-isolating in the community was and is really important.
“Remaining calm in a time of pandemic is sometimes challenging, but is very important for the community to help them deal with change.”
Mr Denham noted the example of Mr Smedley (pictured at right with Mr Denham), a customer of his pharmacy for many years who appreciates the care and health advice given by the pharmacists and assistants.
“During the COVID-19 restrictions, Mr Smedley was cautious but enjoyed the fact that when he needed to fill a script or get health advice, we were there for him and his wife,” Mr Denham said.
“Both rely on access to medications to best manage their health conditions, and his doctor was able to fax scripts through to the pharmacy and have them filled.”
Mr Denham said studying at Charles Sturt in Orange was his first choice because he really loved chemistry and people, and pharmacy seemed like a good fit.
“I love the support of family but it was helpful for me to move away from my family home in Sydney and blaze my own trail,” he said.
“I had done some pharmacy work experience and could see what a difference they made to people in need, and I loved studying pharmacy in a rural setting and knowing all my cohort and lecturers.”
Reflecting on the role pharmacists play in the community, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Denham said looking after and protecting the community is the prime objective for any healthcare professional.“I think we are doing this well, and it just gives great joy that this is what we do every day, pandemic or not; it provides a big purpose to turning up each day and serving in this way,” he said.