My name is Dee Fasan and I am a pharmacist store manager at Boots UK. I have spent my whole career at Boots, starting in the Dartford branch in Kent (Southeast England) where I spent my pre-registration year, then became a relief pharmacist and went on to manage different stores around London.
On a typical day before the pandemic…
I wake up at 6 a.m., have a shower and get ready for work. During the brighter months, I go to the park for a quick jog before I get ready for work.
I get to work around 7:15 a.m. I love the view from the store which overlooks St. Paul’s Cathedral, especially at sunrise and sunset. I say hello to the colleagues who are already there preparing the store for opening.
The store opens at 7:30 a.m. and it quickly gets busy during the first peak hours, as customers run in to get their prescriptions, lunches and a few essentials before the day starts. I enjoy chatting with our patients in between preparing their prescriptions and advising them on their medical conditions.
The morning goes by quickly and before I know it, the morning rush is done and it’s time for my weekly area conference call at 11 a.m.
I finish work at 4:30 p.m., and often meet with friends for an early dinner to explore all the wonderful culinary delights that London has to offer before heading home at around 7:30 p.m.
At home, I unwind from the day, catch up with the news and talk to my family who live in different countries around the world, including Germany, Switzerland, the U.S., and Nigeria, as well as the UK. I prepare some lunch to take to work the next day, then settle down to watch a movie before bedtime at 11 p.m. My favourite movie is Lost in Translation as I am a big fan of Bill Murray, although my guilty pleasure is watching Elf on repeat at Christmas time.
When COVID-19 happened, everything changed.
London went into its first lockdown and was greatly impacted as the vast majority of people started to work from home. My tube carriage became a lot emptier; I could now actually get a seat on my way to work. The number of customers coming into the store decreased rapidly and London became a shadow of itself.
The team and I spent a lot of time cleaning and sanitizing the store, trying to keep our customers and ourselves as safe as possible. As most people were now spending all their time in the suburbs and in more residential areas, our store closed temporarily. The healthcare team and I were redeployed to help with the increased workload and pressure that some pharmacies faced as a result of the shift to remote working. My close-knit team was very sad to part ways, but we kept in touch through messages and phone calls, keeping each other’s spirits up with jokes, memes and reflections.
During that time, I went to help pharmacy support managers in two different stores, to ensure the pharmacy teams could meet the challenge of maintaining professional standards and operations whilst keeping up with the increase in patients and prescriptions. It was an eye opener for me, as the intensity of these stores was in stark contrast to central London since COVID-19 hit. Patients and customers in central London, now working from home, shifted to using their local Boots branches which meant a big increase in prescriptions and healthcare sales for those stores. I was glad to contribute to the hard work of the teams.
My home life changed considerably, too. Dinner with friends, going to the gym, holidays and visiting my family had to be put on hold. These were replaced with long video calls, watching Netflix and experimenting in the kitchen, trying to recreate some of those gastronomic treats that I used to enjoy in restaurants. I have to say that my Korean cooking has definitely improved; pork bulgogi is now my new speciality.
The ritual of constant handwashing, sanitizing and wearing masks became the norm. Hand cream is definitely an essential during this time. For me, as I’m sure is the case for many others, keeping my distance from others, especially family and friends, is the most difficult part of getting through this pandemic.
Through all of this, being a pharmacist has never been of greater importance. Every day at work, I have the opportunity to provide essential and meaningful healthcare services to our patients. From ensuring that they have their medicines to delivering flu vaccinations and other services, giving health advice and providing differential diagnoses, pharmacists are available to help those who would otherwise find it difficult to access healthcare services. My job at Boots allows me to ease the pressure on the National Health Service (NHS) frontline service, especially at this crucial time. Our patients trust us to be there for them during this difficult time and it is a privilege to be able to do so.
Before the pandemic, we were all focused more on the bigger, exciting things; planning holiday adventures, day trips, exhibitions and concerts. I think this time has really emphasised how much the little things we all took for granted matter. Every conversation with a patient now holds even more significance; it might be the only one they will have that day. It might be the only face-to-face contact with a health professional that they will have for a while. The news of the vaccines has brought a lot of hope and it is wonderful that pharmacists are getting involved in the administration.
I wear a mask to protect myself and others, but a smile still lingers beneath in the knowledge that, with a little patience, I will be visiting my family and enjoying more epicurean delights again in the future.