In December 1898, the first Geelong United Friendly Societies dispensary opened in Moorabool St with the goal of bringing affordable and accessible medical supplies and health care to local residents. 125 years on, the organisation now known as Community Care Chemist, remains committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of the Geelong community.
Community Care Chemist is celebrating its 125th birthday this month with in-store events and the launch of a history publication documenting its long history of caring for the community.
The organisation has survived significant changes to its funding model, competition from major discount pharmacy chains and the challenges of meeting unprecedented demand for supplies and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re extremely proud of our long history of navigating challenges and adapting to meet the needs of our community,” said Deputy Chair Janine Haigh.
Ms Haigh acknowledged the dedication of past and present staff, management and board members in the ongoing success of Community Care Chemist.
The organisation continues to operate under the friendly society model, reinvesting all profits back into improving its pharmacies and supporting members and the community through free and subsidised health care services, health education, donations to local organisations and sponsorship of events.
Chief Executive Office Nick Salkeld said that in the last year alone, Community Care Chemist administered more than 10,000 COVID-19 vaccinations and provided subsidised vaccination services to vulnerable community members including clients of The Outpost, Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative and the Geelong Youth Exchange, as well as volunteers.
Significant financial contributions were made to local organisations and groups including Barwon Health Foundation, Give Where You Live and Anam Cara House and Geelong Mums.
A major highlight in 2023 was the opening of the Belmont Health Hub in partnership with GMHBA, providing medical, dental, physiotherapy and pharmacy services all in the one location.
“We’re excited to celebrate this major milestone and acknowledge the foresight and hard work of those who have steered the organisation through significant challenges and times of change,” Mr Salkeld said.
“Community is at the heart of everything we do at Community Care Chemist and we remain committed to our mission to help the Geelong community to live well,” he said.
“There will no doubt be challenges to come but If the past 125 years are any indication, Community Care Chemist will continue to serve Geelong well into the future.”