Galway City Tribune - Opinion Piece
Frank puts a new spin on delivery of medicineJune 7, 2012 - 11:48am
One man’s plan to downsize and come to Galway for “an easy life” couldn’t have worked out any differently, as pharmacist, Frank McAnena now finds he works harder than ever.
But he’s not complaining and in fact is so passionate about his home pharmacy service that he wants to share his vision in the hope that it will be replicated on a wider scale.
Frank is unique as he is the only pharmacist in the country providing a home pharmacy service – indeed as far as he knows there are only two other home pharmacy services in the world; in a part of Devon and in one area in Canada.
Eyre Pharmacy on Eyre Square, which he owns, doesn’t do home deliveries but Frank operates a scheme where, with in conjunction with the Public Health Nursing Service, GPs and health care workers, he delivers and monitors patients’ medication at home.
“In other words, we bring the pharmacy to them in all kinds of weather, seven days a week and depending on weather conditions and traffic, I travel on either a bike, a small scooter or in a van. I’m like the postman,” he says humbly.
This very innovation has won Frank a Business Innovation Award, one given nationally by the Irish Pharmacy News. But instead of sitting on his laurels or boasting about the actual accolade, Frank prefers to think of it as a means of promoting what to him seems like a no brainer.
As he points out, we all know people, either elderly, infirm or housebound due to illness, who should have their daily medication intake monitored. In the past few years since he started doing this, he knows for sure that it has helped keep people out of hospital.
“One GP told me that, before we started the home pharmacy with one particular man, he would have been hospitalised two or three times a year. I also know that many of our patients have been kept out of nursing homes now that their medications are being monitored.”
Frank hates the idea of thousands of euros worth of medications being hoarded in people’s cupboards – some years ago, up to two tonnes of out-of-date meds were collected, though he suspects there were a lot more.
A native of Ballaghderreen, Frank sold up the family pharmacy and came to Galway six years ago.
“I married a Galway girl (Monica Gill) who wanted to come home and the idea was that I would open a smaller pharmacy to have an easier life. . . but it didn’t quite work out like that.
“You could say I became passionate about this home pharmacy. Other people buy Harleys in mid-life crisis but I was hell bent on setting up the home pharmacy as the hoarding of out-of-date medicines had always bugged me. After working as a pharmacist for over 30 years, I finally got around to doing it because I no longer cared about breaking away from the pack.”
Frank, whose only sibling, Oliver, a surgeon, also lives in Galway, admits that he now barely has time to play a spot of golf or do what he loves most, which is play traditional music. Apparently, he’s not a bad session player and likes folk too.
“All of the people I monitor in their homes have my mobile phone number and I am on call seven days a week because I am passionate about providing what I see as a necessary and cost-saving service.”
He credits a particular public health nurse in the city for steering him towards the home pharmacy idea as she saw first hand how effective such a service could be – and she has been proven right.
At the moment, Frank’s catchment area is strictly in the city, though his pharmacy serves a few nursing homes in the county area. But, he says, there is no reason why this couldn’t be done on a much wider scale.
He gives two reasons why this isn’t happening – the red tape and perceived bureaucracy involved in introducing it and the fact that not many pharmacists would be prepared to put in the hours or the energy.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.