GUEST ARTICLE: G’day. I’m Robbo. I do have a real name, but my first name can’t be used due to cultural reasons
I discovered that on my first day out here four years ago and have used my nickname ever since from here to meetings with government departments! I work as a Remote Area Pharmacist and home is in the 250000 square kilometres of Great Victorian and Gibson deserts if you look at a map and shove a pin in between Alice Springs and Kalgoorlie
Life is not too bad out here. We have fresh vegies and fruit delivered every fortnight – if the truck can get in. My idea of fresh may sometimes differ a little to yours. If it rains and the roads are cut we may be living out of tins or eating Witchetty Grubs 😉 for a few weeks.
Our prices are a bit different. Our food is about 50% dearer here than in a more populated area. And this is with the community store selling the fresh stuff as cheaply as they can. Occasionally as recently happened when the truck can’t get into town it is all hands on deck. Oh! And what price is your fuel? Diesel costs me $2.20/litre
I work out here as a pharmacist, working with an aboriginal health service caring for a remote indigenous population. Usually only nurses and some doctors work remote with token support from other health providers.
This position was a first in Australia and several years later I am still the only pharmacist doing this sort of work. So far the government does not fund to ensure there is a full health care team which most of Australia benefits from.
It is not the work you see occurring in a pharmacy down the street but all the work you don’t see. Working closely with the doctors and nurse I endeavour to ensure doses and drugs are the right ones and they don’t interact with you other medicines. I work with hospitals to ensure we have the medications they are being placing our patients on.
Logistics – getting the drugs out here, especially the vaccines which require particular storage conditions can be difficult along with the correct storage of these items in an extreme environment with a community power supply in some communities being not all that good. I perform a regulatory and review role endeavouring to ensure that what we are doing with medications is at a high standard.
To see patients and nurses or education and talking about medicines means a lot of time on the road. Over the area the health service operates there are about 20kms of bitumen roads. These are located in 4 communities. I do between 40-60,000kms a year over rough bush roads.
Currently after heavy rain I have tomorrow to undertake a 150km journey of which for 75km there is now no road. It was washed away. And camels! I didn’t mention camels. There are thousands of them and at night lay in the warmth of the road. That is one road hump you do not want to hit!
And that is where I may leave you. I have a car to service and prepare, my emergency supplies to check and a satellite phone to charge as well as three flats from the last two weeks to repair and remount on the rims.
This guest article was written by Robbo, a friend who works as a Remote Area Pharmacist in central Australia.
If you’re a blogger or an expert about a topic I cover on this blog I encourage you to contact me and I’ll consider publishing your guest article here including generous attribution and back links back to your website as thanks for your contribution