Opinion – A Lesson on Public Service

through the looking glass

By Marianne Curtis

I had the unfortunate experience of recently being absolutely insulted by one of our local ‘esteemed’ pharmacists, which is what has spurned this months “through the looking glass”.

During the last weekend of August, one of my four children had contact with poison ivy. It started on her face and despite her advanced age of 15, telling her not to scratch was like asking her not to breath. After treating her at home, with calamine lotion, Clortipylon and Betaderm Cream, nothing helped (it kept spreading) and eventually we ran out of treatment.

Calling the medical clinic in Steinbach, I was told to bring her into the walk in clinic and they would fix her right up. I explained to the nurse that I had no money until Friday (two days later) and if there was anything that can be given to this child to help her cope until we could get medicine for her. She said “no problem – we will take care of her”. So, taking her word for it, we used the little gas we had left and drove her to the clinic.

Arriving at the clinic, we had an amazing three minute wait before being called into the treatment room. From there, the doctor examined her and told us the problem (which I have already mentioned above). He promptly provided us with a prescription that needed to be filled. Again, we explained the money situation, that we were out of stuff and is there anyway that we could get a sample of the medicine he prescribed or something else that would help. He said no, the clinic doesn’t do that and so we left.

In a last bid for help, we stopped by the pharmacy on our way out the door. Our reasoning was maybe there was something that could be done on the interim – heck the kid is suffering here, so we gave him the prescription and asked if there was any way that we could get a couple pills to carry us over until payday. He promptly remarked “we don’t do charity” and walked away.

My intention was not to ask for charity – but to come up with a compromise. Maybe leave my driver’s license, my laptop computer (which I had in the van)  – ANYTHING – as a show of good faith that I would be back as promised on Friday – but instead, all we got was “we don’t do charity”.

All I was doing was thinking as a parent – looking for way to appease the suffering of my daughter. I am very surprised and disappointed that in a community where some consider charity the road to heaven, that a plea for help would be treated so callously. And a child was left suffering over the price of two pills or a simple request for a two day grace period.

My point is, I realize my request was unusual, and that I would hear no for an answer, however, as a parent it was my responsibility to ask for some sort of assistance for my child. If he had to say no, he could have done it in a much more pleasant of manner, instead of just coldly retorting…“we don’t do charity” and making us feel like we had just crawled off the streets.


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