From fire to fabulous: Biloela Medical Centre Pharmacy is back in business

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By Jen Gourley


Just like a phoenix, the Biloela Medical Centre Pharmacy has risen from the ashes with an exciting, new future in front of it.

The pharmacy suffered extensive damage after an electrical fire started in the local business overnight on January 29 this year.

Owner and pharmacist Courtney Parker was on maternity leave, caring for her three-month-old baby daughter, when she received a call that the pharmacy was on fire.

She initially thought it would be just a little smoulder when the security guard called her but when she arrived around 1.30am on the Saturday, the pharmacist was in for a shock.

“When I got here, there were firies and a fire engine and lights and I thought, “It’s a real fire!” Courtney said.

“You couldn’t see any flames because the fire was at the back of the shop,” she said. “But you could look in through the glass and see it was just black with smoke in there. The fire itself was quite small but because it was burning for four or five hours, the soot and the smoke is what did the damage – the soot was all through the shop. The fire brigade spent a long time trying to decide the best way to approach it because as soon as you open a door and let all the oxygen in, then it’s going to go up.

“The firies were awesome though. They went in the side door and they put the fire out and then they opened the front doors and started letting all the fumes and everything out. They didn’t use water so we didn’t have water damage but the shop was wrecked anyway. All the stock was written off. We were able to salvage some pre-packed medication and pre-dispensed medication but only really out of necessity because we had to. We had to still supply Webster packs that following Monday to Wahroonga (Retirement Village) and to everyone who was expecting them.”

However, every single dressing and bandage, every box of tablets, every jar of vitamins, every tube of ointment was damaged by soot and unable to be salvaged. And, of course, the interior of the pharmacy was in a terrible state too.

The whole shop had to be gutted and refitted – a long and complicated process. Meanwhile, Courtney and her staff needed to find a new place to work.

“While this was going on, we had to relocate into the cafe, because we had to keep providing medicine to Wahroonga and to the community, we had to keep Webster packing. We weren’t trading, we were just packing and doing what we had to do from behind the scenes.”

The staff worked at the café-turned-chemist from mid-February until the start of June, when they were able to move all the medicine and equipment in to the new pharmacy.

It had been a challenging experience for everyone involved. There’s no manual to tell you what to do when a pharmacy catches on fire.

“It was a really hard time,” Courtney said, “But the staff were so amazing. They just kept on keeping on, fronting up every day just to see how they could help. And we just figured it out as we went along.”

They are also very grateful from all the support they received from local businesses and the community.

On the 6th of June, Biloela Medical Centre Pharmacy reopened to the public, with so much to offer residents of Biloela and the surrounding district.

With the pharmacy’s makeover, it’s now light and bright and airy with the luxury of lots of space.

As well as plenty of room, they also offer plenty of great, old-fashioned customer service.

“We really like to try to help our customers from go to whoa and make them feel comfortable.”

Courtney, who has been a pharmacist since 2014, and her friendly staff take the time to listen to people and focus on their health needs.

“We’ve got the time to talk and we’re happy to talk. All of the staff are very experienced in pharmacy – we’ve got the experience, we’ve got the time, we’ve got the space.”

As well as looking after all your prescription needs, the pharmacy stocks aids such as walkers, wheelchairs and other items for those with mobility issues, and if it’s not on the shelf or on the shop floor, the helpful staff will try to order it for you.

They do Webster packing, deliveries, and offer a wide range of products from home health items, complementary medicine, body and hair care, baby needs, gifts, fragrances, essential oils, soaps, first-aid requirements and much more.

Biloela Medical Centre Pharmacy will celebrate their fifth year in business this month so keep an eye out for an announcement about their upcoming birthday celebrations.

With lots of convenient and easy parking, the pharmacy is located at Shop 2, 36 Dawson Highway, Biloela (turn at the entrance to Mitre 10 and Supercheap Auto, and then head towards the back of the precinct – you’ll find the pharmacy right next door to the doctors). They are open from 8.30am to 5pm from Monday to Friday.

For more information, phone 4992 1001, or email, or stay up to date by following them on Facebook.

Soot damage at the pharmacy after the fire (the prescriptions sign used to be green).
The desk and burned equipment.
The new shop under construction.
The new shop is light and bright and spacious.
The pharmacy is next to the Biloela Medical Centre, with plenty of convenient parking.
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