Canada

‘It’s pretty surreal’: Halifax pharmacy wants to become trailblazer for 2SLGBTQ+ health services

A new pharmacy in Halifax is looking to help change the way the province views the standards for health services for members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

Boyd’s Pharmasave, located on Agricola Street where the old Smith’s Bakery used to be, had its official soft opening Monday.

The owner, Greg Richard, says the day was a long time coming.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Richard, 28. “It’s pretty surreal.”

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Richard grew up in Miramichi, N.B., but recently moved back to Halifax, where he took pharmacy at Dalhousie University.

He’s always wanted to own his own pharmacy, but at the same time make it a place for the community to come together.

“Being from Miramichi, that’s what I grew up with,” he said. “It was you knew your pharmacist, you knew your pharmacy, they knew your family, you grew up with them.”

And Richard wants his pharmacy to be different. His aim is to take an inclusive approach, opening the doors to all backgrounds and gender identities and making sure they feel welcome.

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His pharmacy will be one of the only in the province to offer testosterone injections, which are a key aspect of gender-affirming hormone therapy for trans-masculine people.

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He says that’s something that’s lacking in the city.

“It’s really a gap that we’re trying to fill, and it’s really presented opportunities that we want to work on as we go forward through the years,” Richard continued.

Richard was inspired to learn more about testosterone injections after a patient in Fredericton came to him requesting them, after not being able to see his family doctor because of COVID-19.

“It really sparked that inner-conversation about why can’t we? What other services could we offer, and is there really a role for a pharmacist in this kind of a setting?”

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Stoo Metz, a longtime 2SLGBTQ+ advocate who lives across the street from Boyd’s, says it’s “absolutely beautiful” that the business has moved into the neighbourhood.

“To see a progress pride flag up in the window welcoming and letting everyone in the neighbourhood know that this space is for everyone is just such a heartwarming and beautiful thing,” they tell Global News.

Metz says it can be hard to open up to medical professionals when you don’t feel a sense of inclusion.

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“To have that space for them to go in and open up to someone that they might see themselves in, someone that might have the same gender pronouns as them, that, in my opinion, will save lives,” they say.

“I would like to challenge a lot of the other pharmacies to do the same, because it is 2021 and it’s time.”

Richard says even though they only opened on Monday, he’s already been inundated with inquiries about these types of services, which he says shows how much of a need it is for the community.

He says they’ve also placed a focus on hiring staff that comes from diverse backgrounds so they can better learn how to support the province’s Black and Indigenous populations, as well as those with disabilities.

“For a Pharmasave to come in and really cement themselves as independently owned, locally run, for the people of Halifax, that’s what we’re really trying to go for.”

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