Bonn. The General-Anzeiger presents people who are in this special situation in the service of the general public - in today’s edition: Bonn pharmacist Andrea Forst-Raasch.
More than two months ago, pharmacists like Andrea Forst-Raasch from Bonn were given the first clues that the new coronavirus is not only a Chinese problem. Professional travellers were already standing at the counter in the Hofgarten Pharmacy on Kaiserplatz in January, asking questions, questions, questions. Later on, the associations and chambers responsible for German pharmacies reported the great tasks and difficult situations facing their Italian colleagues. "The Italians reacted quickly and willingly shared their insights," says Forst-Raasch, who runs a pharmacy with 20 employees in the Kaiserpassage. That's why a plexiglass in front of the counter now protects employees and customers alike from infection.
The need for advice has increased considerably, especially after the drastic restrictions in public life. "There were days when the three of us were constantly consulting over three lines", says the 53-year-old pharmacist. Diagnostic tips, treatment advice, effective protection: the need for information is great.
The pharmacist has been working in her profession for 27 years, a few years in Bavaria, and in 2002 the Bonn pharmacist took over the Hofgarten Pharmacy. She has never experienced a similar situation in her professional life as in these days. "There is great uncertainty among the population. We see it as our duty to inform, to enlighten and thus also to reassure." The crisis leads back to the origins of why Forst-Raasch took up this profession. And the pharmacists experience gratitude for their expert words to a greater extent than before, she says. The married mother of a 20-year-old student and a 14-year-old pupil says: "This is something that online trading cannot offer."
The pharmacy, like others, offers a free courier service to bring medicines home. Many use this service to avoid direct contact. Some tried to order 30 protective masks.
"We'll ask questions and see what they're for." There is no point in stocking up on litres of disinfectant and disinfecting your hands with pure alcohol a hundred times a day. Forst-Raasch and her employees try to convey the right measure and reasonable behaviour to customers. Wash your hands thoroughly, keep your distance. Again and again, always with a calm voice.
Alerted by the Italians, the Hofgarten Pharmacy has already changed the duty rosters extensively weeks ago and formed two teams that practically never meet each other. "If an employee in one team gets infected, the other team could continue working and keep the business running." The cash desks are operated by only one employee at a time, and the counter must be thoroughly disinfected during shift changes. Forst-Raasch is not exempt from this regulation. Halfway through the day, she makes her way home and takes care of other business at her desk.
The pandemic is already having an impact on the pharmaceutical market. Some antibiotics are running short, says the pharmacist. Some drugs, for example for high blood pressure, are produced mainly in China and India, which have imposed export bans. "Italy is also a major European producer of pharmaceuticals," explains the pharmacist.
The existing and future shortage of medicines in some areas will continue to occupy the industry for a long time to come, she is sure. Forst-Raasch and her team are also increasingly talking to concerned customers about such supply bottlenecks these days. She advises them to get in touch early, preferably 14 days in advance, when their own stock is running low. This would give them enough time to consider together with the doctor which medication could be an alternative if the desired preparation is not available.
Original text: Philipp Königs,Translation: Mareike Graepel