Creswick pharmacist Jeff Unmack saw the whole range of emotions from customers during lockdown - anger, fear, frustration, acceptance and under the masks of some customers he knew there were smiles as they interacted with him and staff who were possibly the only people they had seen for days.
With a large elderly population Mr Unmack was also concerned for those customers he know who had limited mobility during lockdown, who couldn't get out to the shops or the pharmacy for their essentials and were stuck at home on their own.
With the help of the district nursing service, meals on wheels and delivering vital medication to homes he made sure he was aware of how they were getting on.
We got everyone on board with new systems, QR codes, having to have temperature checks and sanitise at the door and now people are just used to the ideaJeff Unmack
For some, particularly elderly residents, the pharmacy became their daily outing whether they needed medication, forcing Mr Unmack and staff to gently remind them of the reasons behind lockdown and that it was in place to protect older Victorians as well as the general community.
"I think the mental health impacts have been very understated. Our older customers, despite pleas from the government to please stay home, still came out in droves. They needed their time and could ldave the house for one of the four valid reasons to visit is, even though we tried to implore that lockdown was for your own health," he said.
"They needed that routine in their system ... even though we could still deliver their blister packs and medication. We were quite surprised they were coming up daily ... they would find another reason to come in."
Mr Unmack said the pharmacy was "blessed" to be an essential service and his Clunes pharmacy also contains a post office so it was essential on two fronts.
Mr Unmack paid tribute to staff from the pharmacy who never expressed fear or concern at having public-facing roles during a pandemic, who implemented new systems and practices to keep everyone safe and dealt with customers voicing a wide range of emotions and concerns.
New systems, QR codes, and the ups and downs of lockdowns, freedom and more lockdowns took their toll on many customers and, being one of the few businesses open, he heard what locals thought of the situation.
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"There was definitely frustration, and businesses who were closed don't tend to hear the frustration of customers at the time," he said.
"But we got everyone on board with new systems, QR codes, having to have temperature checks and sanitise at the door and now people are just used to the idea."
Mr Unmack and pharmacy staff had to pivot quickly to new electronic systems - with doctors offering more telehealth consultations there were prescriptions being sent through via fax, email, electronically and eventually e-scripts were introduced.
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