Recognition of Excellence Awards 2021
Verina Matthews is a valued and indispensable member of the LloydsPharmacy Westlands Grove team
In 2008, as her three daughters were getting older, hairdresser Verina Matthews was keen for a new challenge and so she applied for the position of counter assistant at LloydsPharmacy Westlands Grove in Fareham, Hampshire. With no prior pharmacy experience, Verina didn’t expect to be in the job long, but 13 years later, she is a valued and indispensable member of the team – so much so that colleague Laura-Jayne Britton, who nominated Verina for the Counter Intelligence Award, says: “Quite frankly, every pharmacy needs a Verina.”
Confessing to never having been a particularly confident person, Verina says working in the pharmacy has enabled her to overcome many of her personal fears and she strives to help as many people as possible. “I always greet customers and know their names,” she says. “I don’t just hand over their prescription medication and send them on their way, I always explain what it is for and go through healthcare problems with them.”
Laura-Jayne says Verina doesn’t realise how good she is and how much patients rely on her for advice and someone to talk to. “They open up to her and, especially during this period of such unrest and upset with the pandemic, she has provided more help and support to patients than she will ever know,” Laura-Jayne explains. “Verina gets the information she needs to find a suitable product for the patient without them feeling as though they are being interrogated – it’s always a comfortable and pleasant transaction.”
This is aided by the fact that Verina has developed an unparalleled knowledge of the products stocked by her pharmacy, which allows her to provide each and every person with a tailored service that will benefit them. What’s more, Verina will always take the time to discuss things like dosage and storage with customers, ensuring they are completely confident in the product before they leave the store.
For Verina, this is just all part of her philosophy of treating everyone as she would want to be treated herself. At the start of the pandemic, this meant she was outside in all weathers. “We were actually threatened to be shut as we were not allowed to have patients queuing near the doctors’ surgery we are attached to,” she explains. “For two months, until we sorted a solution, I would run to the gate, rain or shine, take the patient’s name and run back in and get their prescription for them. This meant we didn’t have to close the pharmacy.”
Salim Jetha, chairman at Avicenna and RoE judge, is one of many people who admires this dedication. “Verina is very caring,” he says. “I am very impressed with the role she played in the pandemic to deliver healthcare.”