Me as a Pharmacist
The first thing that I did (even before we are married) was, reminding my Lady of my calling in the frontline, and isolate myself from the rest of the family. Initially we were thinking of just fourteen (14) days, but thanks to the change of circumstances, looks like my isolation period has to be extended indefinitely, until we think it’s safe enough. P.S. My isolation period ended few days into the MCO, due the the lower chance of exposure than previously.
My role as a frontliner is still highly debated around the world. If you are following my posts on Facebook and still think my role as a pharmacist is nothing more than a medication dispenser, please read through my posts again! More often than not, pharmacists will be the first people whom community members contact for any medical inquiries as well as procuring medical supplies.
When I work in the hospital, I have two main scopes of jobs, one is administration, another is operation. Unfortunately most have the misconception that pharmacists should fully devoted to the operation and perch at the counter dispensing medications and advice. If we all do, who is going to plan for the logistics? Who is going to draw and decide the policies and procedures to ensure the safety of staff and continuation of services? Who is going to plan for the worst case action plan (Plan B to Z), just like during this COVID-19 crisis. In the background, pharmacists are involved in the testing and registration of medicines, investigating complaints and enforcing regulations, production and manufacturing. However, up to this day, I spent most of my time fulfilling patients requests instead of troubleshooting and innovating. Progress in pharmacy is going to be stagnant in the foreseeable future.
My WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are constantly receiving inquiries about latest information and health issues throughout the mandatory isolation period. While I am already active in social media, I am using different platforms to dissipate useful and truthful information to the public, starting with my closest circles. Example of questions including the efficacy of certain disinfecting products or equipment, the preventive and cautionary steps for certain susceptible groups of people, emergency minor ailments advice, and SOP’s for business operations.
On the flip side, there are perks being a pharmacist during this crisis period. Number one, I can move freely with my UMMC car sticker, staff identity card and a ‘permit’ that reads “Petugas Kesihatan (healthcare worker)”. After initial traffic jam at every police check during the first week of MCO, a special lane has been opened for healthcare workers (and other civil defence teams) for us to bypass the massive jam and getting to work on time. Yet, it is extremely frustrating when the emergency lanes are being obstructed by non-essential drivers.
Me as a Father
Money, money, money, and try to not let anyone die. COVID-19 crisis is bringing the global economy to its knee. Therefore the income of my wife and her customers will be affected. While me being the sole provider whom income is momentarily unaffected, I have to think of ways to generate even more income to support my family financially. I need to evolve most of my amateur skills into professional income generating skills.
On top of that, I have to ensure the sufficiency of nutrition for my family. I have two growing kids and nursing wife, who need balanced diet and fresh food whenever possible. Though movement is highly restricted, I am still able to procure sufficient necessities, thanks to Tesco Rawang that has remain open for the whole MCO. I will plan my trip ahead with a shopping list, and make sure no double-back before pushing the trolley towards the exit. I enjoy using Scan & Shop to minimise my stay in the store. Trust me, groceries shopping should take less than 30 minutes per run.
Unfortunately, the hardest thing for me during this period is to suppress my anger and anxiety. I am having really hard time trying to tolerate the annoyance from my kids (yes, I hate loud noises and constant bothering).
Me as a Critic
A pharmacist also holds social responsibilities in the community. There are roughly three ways for me to contribute: constructive as an educator, assistive as a volunteer, or destructive as a critic. Personally I prefer to be an educator, but I enjoy being a critic the most. P.S. I gave up being a volunteer long time ago.
I am very aggressive in my communication, since the days when I was a debater back in high school. Whenever I find something is factually and/or legally wrong, I will not hesitate to say it aloud as well as publicly shaming the wrongdoers.
I am constantly on the lookout for government policies and decisions. I will help to spread and inform important official statements, and pointing out the obvious (and not so obvious) flaws in the official announcements.
I am constantly monitoring social media (mostly Facebook) for false claims, fake news, scams and misleading marketing. I will gather information and evidence, then compile them to file a sound report to the appropriate authority.
Me as an Entrepreneur
I do own small businesses aside from my full time profession as a hospital pharmacist. I used experience from running my business to learn about basic economics, accounting and taxation, finance management, logistics planning and digital transformation.
My goal of being a social entrepreneur will remain in the incubator for the time being, while learning to be even more resourceful than previously. I need to procure every single cent to finance my products and/or services in return for more ringgit to sustain and expand my businesses. How I wish that honest money is as plentiful as the dirt on the road, where a simple walk can stick enough under my soles to feed the whole village.
COVID-19 hits everyone, though different in impact, but we are all fighting to survive in the same environment (there is only one Earth). Resources are limited, but we should all be better off by working together as a global community, and sharing whatever resources available. Political and ideology games should be put aside until we come out from the other end (and if possible not to be picked up again). Fighting COVID-19 should not be treated like running a sprint instead we should prepare to run an endurance race. Even after we win this fight, there are still plenty more fights to come, eg AIDS, dengue and Zika etc.
As of now, STAY HOME, STAY ALIVE. And… learn some skills!