Wawa welcomed a new business this week to the downtown core. Zizette Rizk has opened Wawa Pharmacy. When asked why Wawa?, Zizette explained that she is not new to the community, she has been working here for the past seven years. She told me that the people in Wawa are so friendly and kind. The unfortunate thing is that many are suffering from illness. Algoma Public Health’s 2018 Community Health Profile (link) paints a not-so-pretty picture in regards to the health of Algoma and subsequently Wawa residents.
From that report:
- 30% of Algoma residents are still smokers, which is double Ontario’s smoking rate. Not surprisingly, Algoma has higher lung cancer death rates than Ontario.
- The top 3 causes of death for Algoma residents are heart disease, lung cancer and dementia.
- About 1 in 4 (22.2%) youth aged 12 to 17 years old in Algoma are overweight or obese. Approximately 60.1% of adults in Algoma report being overweight or obese.
- Over 1 in 4 Algoma residents are heavy drinkers, which means that they are consuming alcohol in unhealthy, risky amounts.
- Approximately 18.6% of residents in Algoma report living with high blood pressure.
- Approximately 10.1% of residents in Algoma report living with high blood cholesterol.
- Cancer is a major cause of illness in Algoma. Over 1,150 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in Algoma residents in 2013. Breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer are more commonly diagnosed in Algoma as compared to Ontario.
Many of these medical problems mean that the person may need complicated care – and a pharmacist is often the one to explain your medication to you, explain side effects, and drug interactions/contradictions. Your pharmacist has been schooled to help both the client and the physician in caring for patients. Zizette is hoping that a second pharmacy in our town will assist in the goal of providing better health care to residents. Wawa has six doctors providing care, and now two pharmacists to ease that burden.
Zizette explained that she is from Egypt, having graduated there in 1984 as a pharmacist. After completing her initial degree in pharmacy, she completed two more diploma studies in pharmacy. Zizette then worked for 15 years in a pharmacy in Egypt. In 2012, she came to Canada, wrote the full exam from the board and passed, did her internship and got her license in 2012. Then she could begin to work as a pharmacist in Canada. Coming from Egypt she enjoys the heat, explaining to me that 45C is common there. The current heat wave in Wawa has not been a struggle for her – although she does have to compromise with her employees over the air conditioning. Zizette is married, her husband an immigration consultant in Mississauga, who visits Wawa every month. Their son is studying pharmacy in Australia, he is in his last year.
She was very happy with her first week. People were very happy, liked the way that the store has been setup. Zizette said, “I think that I am very satisfied, but I want for people to be happy, and satisfied with my service for them”. To that end, she has invested in a complicated program to monitor her inventory. By law, the medications must be inventoried, but this program has a special feature. As customers have their prescriptions filled, the draw of that particular medication is programmed into the inventory. This system alerts when inventory needs more of a certain item, giving a notification to have it ordered ahead of time. In this way she will avoid delays in filling a customer’s refill when needed. To put this in easier terms, this is much like you programming into a menu program that you would like Campbell’s soup every Saturday, and that you have 6 cans in your cupboard. If you eat two cans every weekend – the system will prompt you as you eat soup in the second Saturday to go and get more soup, you only have enough for next week.
One of the best things with Wawa Pharmacy being independent, is the ability to offer different products – outside of any corporate line. She provides the common items to every pharmacy, Benedryl, Boost, Ensure, Tylenol, Advil, but has worked hard to provide different products and product lines in her store. Zizette is offering healthy bars, nut bars, granola, keto products, a small clothing line for men and women (tops, pants, shorts and pj’s), child and youth activities, and a long shelf of special gifts. She explained that gifts and clothes are meant to cheer people, something bright to brighten up their appearance, their house, and life in general. Sometimes when you are not feeling well, something bright can cheer you up.
However, shoppers should keep in mind looking at the shelves, that due to COVID-19 shipping disruptions, there have been shipping delays for not only individuals, but for businesses as well. Zizette explained to me, “Everyday I am getting new orders in.” Zizette is hoping that her customers will let her know their needs or improvements that can be made in the store. Zizette understands that navigating and finding products online can be difficult, and especially trying for our seniors. She had a customer that required a diabetic patch, a product that is not common here, but was able to find, order, and arrange to have it shipped. She said that she had a customer come in for a specific lip product – unavailable in Wawa and the area – Zizette was able to source it and ordered it in.
Wawa Pharmacy offers free daily delivery in Wawa and weekly free delivery to Hawk Junction. Plans are underway to include White River and Dubreuilville in the free weekly delivery. Pharmacy dispensing fees are $13.99 minus $2.00. They have an active facebook page where you can message them, drop into the pharmacy in person, or call (705) 856-0555. Their hours are Monday – Friday 9 – 6 p.m., Saturday 9 – 3 p.m., and Sunday 10 – 1 p.m.
Wawa-news would like to wish Zizette, her family, and staff success!