Provincial Pharmacist's Assistant of the Year 2013 Awarded
The prestigious Western Cape Pharmacist’s Assistant of the Year 2013 Award was presented to Maritza Visser on 6 September 2013 at a gala dinner held at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).
Maritza Visser, a pharmacist’s assistant at Riversdale Hospital, received the prestigious award which provincially recognises excellence in the field and showcases the outstanding achievements of pharmacists' assistants across the Western Cape; as well as the value they contribute to healthcare in the province.
Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, says: "At present there are a total of 718 pharmacy assistants in the Western Cape. There are currently vacancies. In the expansion of district health services, they form the backbone of pharmaceutical services and assist in pharmacy related functions under the direct or indirect supervision of a pharmacist.”
The nominees for the Provincial Pharmacist’s Assistant of the Year were evaluated according to very specific criteria.
The criteria, which is in line with the criteria for the National Department of Health’s "Excellence in Healthcare Awards", included the following:
- Motivation (comprehensive and measurable) – explaining how the nominee has made a quality difference in the pharmacy sector and how it impacted on patients.
- Contribution to the management of burden of disease in South Africa.
- Contribution towards effective team work.
- Contribution towards the community.
- Involvement in the following aspects of professional practice: caregiver, communicator, decision-maker, teacher, life-long learner, leader, manager and researcher.
- No previous history of disciplinary complaints lodged or disciplinary cases pending against the nominee.
Visser was nominated alongside Anéll Koekemoer and Willemien Charles, both from Tygerberg Hospital.
Minister Botha added: “I am very proud of our nominees, especially because their contributions demonstrate the department's commitment to strict financial discipline and to reduce costs."
Visser came out tops as a result of her outstanding aptitude for pharmacy, although she has a short career as a pharmacist’s assistant, and her contribution to the pharmacy sector, as well as to the community she serves.
She started her career as a volunteer at the pharmacy of the Heidelberg Community Health Centre (CHC) and was offered the opportunity to train as a basic pharmacist’s assistant. Shortly after that Visser accepted a permanent position for a pharmacist’s assistant post-basic at the Riversdale Hospital.
With the Eden District being part of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Pilot project, an emphasis has been placed on quality care in the chronic medication system, especially with the introduction of the Practical Approach to Care Kit (PACK) and the formation of chronic disease management teams.
Towards the end of 2011, Albertinia CHC started working on a project to improve the chronic medication system in Albertinia. With Visser as the driving-force, the project was introduced at Heidelberg CHC in January 2013.
The project allows for all the chronic disease patients, of which there are approximately 1 200, to collect their medication from a church hall within the community, instead of at the clinic.
Chronic medication is available for collection from Monday to Friday during specified times for two weeks every second month. Apart from receiving their medication, patients’ blood glucose levels and blood pressure are also measured. Counselling is also available.
Part of the effectiveness of this project is a detailed list of patients with their list of chronic diseases and collection dates. This helps in monitoring care, recording of monthly prescription statistics and prevents duplication of prescriptions.
All the chronic medication not collected within the specified time is taken back to the pharmacy at Riversdale Hospital (instead of being left at the clinic) and late patients need to request for it to be delivered to Heidelberg CHC.
Uncollected medication recovered from Heidelberg CHC that was put back into stock at the pharmacy at Riversdale Hospital was valued at just over R20 000. In many cases this was duplicated medication that would have gone to waste.