Local Person: Caleb Stuetz
by Stephanie Williams
If you’ve ever visited the South Hobart Pharmacy, chances are the friendly face behind the counter was owner and pharmacist Caleb Stuetz. While the hospital healthcare system has been the subject of our conversations of late, we chatted to one of our community’s quiet heroes regarding how his line of work has changed since the pandemic began.
Where in Hobart do you live? I’m at the pharmacy more than I am at home. It may as well be home haha!
Why Hobart? I watched Peter Cundall on Gardening Australia and thought Tasmania looked lovely and the gardens were very different to Queensland, where I was living. University of Tasmania Pharmacy School has the best reputation in the country. I met my wife Madeleine here and just like that my life is now based in Hobart.
Tell us a little about your work? Pharmacy is so much more than supplying medicine. We really do try and help our community with their health. Hopefully we give people reassurance and time.
What role does a local pharmacy play in health management? We augment what the doctor prescribes. We are the most easily accessible healthcare provider with 90% of the population living within two kilometres of a pharmacy. We try to disseminate health information and help our patients. We are open, free, and helpful. What else could you ask for? And shop locally because it allows us to keep up the good service!
How does it look behind the scenes in a pharmacy at the moment? Frantic with providing vaccinations, sourcing RATs and now n95 masks. The phone call volumes are absurd. No, I don’t have a RAT and the whole industry is tired!
The pandemic has highlighted some gaps in the health system. What are some of the day-to-day challenges right now? Constrained supply of medication and healthcare goods is the big one. These have a significant impact on people’s lives. We are spending a lot of time sourcing products from different suppliers and this time constraint puts pressure on other areas of the pharmacy. Pharmacy is the most accessible healthcare provider, and we want to spend more time with our patients. Our little store prides itself on this offering and it upsets me when we can’t help. This isn’t specific to pharmacy but the whole healthcare team. Everyone is feeling stretched and stressed.
What’s the craziest covid related thing you’ve seen or heard? Being phoned before opening and being told that the caller was being made to have the vaccination because of work, and that if they suffered a side effect, they were going to sue me! Sadly, I’ve also been asked to witness the withdrawal of money from personal super funds. Early in the pandemic people were scared and we realised we needed training in mental health first aid. Our team for the training and it has paid for itself and helped our resilience as a team.
What do you love doing outside work? Taking my kids to a playground. They are hilarious. It’s funny because people do a double take when they see me. The kids get sick of me knowing people.
Who do you admire? Maggie Beer and all the grandparents. Our society would stop without them. It takes a village to raise a child.
Favourite podcast or tv show? Gardening Australia and cooking shows.
Secret vice? Sneaking in an afternoon power nap at around 10am after reading a Just Cars magazine.
What are you reading now? Phillip Kerr’s Bernard Gunther series. I fall asleep after two pages so it takes me a long time to read a book!
What gets your goat? Inequality and access to healthcare. And RAT failure.
What was your first job? I was a waiter and I was taught this could be this person’s only night out of the year. You have to treat everybody like it’s their birthday.
What are your daily news/social media habits? I read pharmacy Facebook groups to try and keep up with policy changes and industry news. I also quite like a dad joke.
Your favourite place for…
Breakfast: The Food Store or Bury Me Standing. It’s the most important meal of the day.
Lunch: Hamlet. I want to try everything.
Dinner: Fish Frenzy. Reliable and fast.
Favourite team? My team of staff are amazing. Look at how hard they work and how helpful they are. They are stars. I don’t have time for sports!
Favourite Hobart secret? How lucky we are to have all the bush reserves around us. The farmers market and all the glorious produce. Madeleine thinks the vanilla slice at Little Missy patisserie is amazing!
Parting words? We have a wonderful community in Hobart and it’s a pleasure to be a part of it.