Eastern suburbs pharmacist Noel D’Souza has leapt to the rescue of elderly people isolated at home by COVID-19. He and his staff operate a contactless prescription service for older customers, some of whom are on multiple medication regimes.

“We’re delivering to the letterbox or door step so the whole process is completely contactless,” says Noel.  “They pay over the phone and we obtain the prescriptions from doctors by email or fax.”

He urges other pharmacists who do not already have contactless procedures to put them in place. “Our old and vulnerable need to have special protection during the current crisis,” he said.

“The only trouble is that they will become too isolated and could suffer mental health issues as a result. For many elderly people, visits from relatives and others are their only direct
social contact.

Years ago, I used to deliver medicines and a weekly meal of chicken cacciatore to an elderly gentleman. I said to him ‘I can always cook you something else, you don’t have to have the same dish and I am quite a good cook.’  Then he confessed he didn’t really like my chicken cacciatore, in fact he was feeding it to his dog. But he liked my visits and told me, ‘You’re the only person who really cares about me.’“   

The care factor is something that has helped Noel become a pillar of the local community since he set up business in Matraville in the mid-1980s. He knows countless customers at his two Matraville pharmacies by name and has always devoted special attention to
old folk.

Now, with COVID-19 sweeping through the community, Noel and his staff have had to handle a greatly increased workload. He expects that situation to last up to three months. “During that time we’ve got to be very cautious,” Noel said.

He said Bondi was a “COVID-19 hot spot,” with Waverley recently rated the highest risk Local Government Area in Sydney and a pop-up testing clinic set up at Bondi Beach.

“It’s been reported that backpackers could be prime carriers and the worrying thing is that a lot of the cases in the Waverley LGA can’t be traced to the sources of infection,” Noel said. “There’s a danger the disease could take hold in neighbouring beach suburbs like Coogee.”

He said that, as well as, the pop-up testing clinic at Bondi Beach, there is one at the former diabetes clinic in Avoca St, Randwick. 

But one of the main messages from former Randwick mayor Noel is “Don’t Panic!”
He is confident the community will get through the COVID-19 crisis if we all take
sensible steps:
1. Wash hands regularly with an antibacterial wash.
2. Keep a 1.5 metre distance from others.
3. Wear a face mask N95 to cover nose and mouth.
4. Use hand sanitizer frequently and wear gloves where possible.
5. Sneeze or cough on your arm or cover mouth and nose.
6. Try not to touch your nose, eyes or mouth.
7. Avoid being in a group of more than two people.
8. Minimise or avoid unnecessary contact with the elderly.

Meanwhile, he says, pharmacies are at the “front line” in the battle against the COVID-19 virus and he is managing to maintain stocks of hand sanitizer, face masks, asthma sprays and other in-demand supplies. 
He urges people in high-risk categories to get vaccinated against flu. “The flu vaccine will not combat COVID-19, however it will it help in reducing the severity and spread of seasonal influenza which can lower a person's immunity and make them susceptible to
other illnesses.”



  • Key Words: chemist, pharmacy, elderly, open for business, online prescriptions, noel dsouza, matraville, soul pattinson, covi-19
  • Entry Type: Business