Health goals: Luke McGrath and John Jones have taken over Shortland pharmacy, renaming it My Community Pharmacy. Picture: Simone De PeakWHEN you enter My Community Pharmacy in Shortland, there is a conspicuous absence from the shelves.
Pharmacists and co-owners John Jones and Luke McGrath don’t stock any confectionary beyond glucose jelly beans for those with hypoglycemia, and they’re off-limits to kids.
Sure, Mr Jones is also a dietician, but both are country-raised fathers who are passionate about good heath.
“A conflicting message comes out when you are telling people with diabetes to be healthy then selling chocolate at the counter – it’s an inconsistent message,” says Mr Jones, adding that by not stocking lollies he’s “sharing the love” with other nearby stores who do.
The business partners, who met when working for a previous employer, felt there was a gap in the market.
“Other pharmacies aren’t sticking up for what pharmacies represent, pharmacy traditionally is a healthcare service and a primary health care facility so that should be the priority first,” Mr McGrath says. “The business name that we have represents what we stand for – we areabout the community, helping peoplearound us and being a healthcare destination instead of a gift shop withaccess to medication.”
Mr Jones moved from his hometown of Taree to Newcastle as a teenager on a rugbyleague scholarship and playedreserves for the Knights. He obtained his dietician qualifications and practiced for a decade before deciding to complete a Master of Pharmacy.
“It’s a good marriage having dietician and pharmarcy,there’s not a day I don’t use both sets of skills,” he says.
“As a pharmacist I was seeing people far too late in their health journey, so in this position I get to see them straight up and have discussions early on from a nutrition and lifestyle pint of view.”
Mr McGrath said the pair decided to go into business after discovering how closely their values aligned: “We are verylikeminded and our wives laugh at the fact that wefinish each others sentences.”
The men say Shortland was “crying out for” a good pharmacy and they had undertaken renovations to reinvent the previous pharmacy site on Sandgate Road.Both are keen to respond to community feedback for healthcare services and said they’ve received overwhelming support since opening in March.
“We want people to have a great experience when they come here,” says Mr Jones.
The duo say their point of difference is preventative health and expert advice they give not only to parents but children: “Many pharmacists are stuck behind the counter but we have that influence and we should be using it,” says Mr Jones.