Agassiz wasn’t exactly what Mohamed Hasanine had in mind when he emigrated from Egypt to Canada with his wife and two small children.
Growing up, Hasanine remembers eagerly awaiting the return of his uncle each summer, who spent the school year as a professor at McMaster University. He would listen fondly to his uncle’s stories of Canada and dreamed about a future in the country one day. When making the life-changing immigration decision as a young pharmacist, Hasanine imagined settling in a community close to the exciting hustle and bustle of Vancouver.
But just a few short years after arriving, and completing the UBC Canadian Pharmacy Practice Programme, Hasanine was determined to invest as a pharmacy owner in a community where increased services were urgently needed. Researching several opportunities, he settled on Agassiz and has been delighted with his decision ever since.
“We’re very proud to have won the 2016 People’s Choice Award and 2012 Excellence in Service Award through the Harrison Agassiz Chamber of Commerce as well as the 2015 People’s Best Health and Wellness Business through the Agassiz-Harrison Observer,” says Hasanine of his business, Agassiz Remedy’sRx, which he jointly owns and manages with Tareq Youssef. “Competing against all retail businesses in this category, this establishes how much people can really love a pharmacy!”
With a largely senior population, the pharmaceutical needs of Agassiz and neighbouring community Harrison Hot Springs were underserved prior to Hasanine’s arrival in 2012, says nurse practitioner Sean Young, who has provided primary care at the Agassiz Community Health Centre since 2006.
“Mohamed immediately changed things for the better in this community,” Young says. “I have received tremendous positive feedback about Mohamed and his pharmacy from my patients who use his services. I can see how positively that impacted my patients’ health outcomes.”
Since opening his store, Hasanine’s primary goal has been to provide an expanded scope of services tailored to the specific needs of Agassiz’s population, including medication reviews, custom compounding, free prescription delivery, diabetes support and an increased selection of home health care supplies and medical dressings, among others. Most recently, Hasanine and his business partner Youssef partnered with Seabird Island Band to open up a second location, Seabird Pharmacy, to serve the needs of a nearby First Nations reserve.
It’s not uncommon for Hasanine to go the extra mile for patients, providing lengthy, one-on-one consultations, sourcing supply alternatives at nearby locations if unavailable at his store and partnering with fellow health-care professionals to offer comprehensive medication reviews and suggestions for improved treatment. “I have a lot of passion for pharmacy,” he says. “It’s not only a profession for me, it’s a way of life. I see it as going to meet my extended family every day.”
Hasanine draws from an extensive and varied pharmacy career in Egypt, where he worked in hospital, specializing in cardiovascular care, as well as in community pharmacy and pharmaceutical sales, with a focus on diabetes. Since relocating to Canada, Hasanine’s goal has been to further expand his knowledge and personalized care by achieving a new certification each year. To date, he has completed: BC injection certificate, art of compounding training (University of Florida), Canadian diabetes educator certificate, ADAPT certificate in patient counselling skills, lab monitoring course and travel medicine for pharmacists. Up next is certification in geriatrics care.
With just one year of UBC pharmacy mentorship under his belt, Hasanine has already been nominated for UBC’s Practice Educator of the Year Award in 2015.
Hasanine is thrilled to be recognized for serving his community, and feels rewarded every day by his patients, of whom he knows most by name. Many come in to thank him for his care, to give him cards, congratulate him on his accomplishments and even pass on birthday wishes to his children, eight and 11.
Says local resident and pharmacy customer, Dave Harris: “With many health issues, I am very appreciative of [Mohamed’s] skill and knowledge as well as his determination to help me. I strongly believe we are so lucky having Mohamed practicing here in our community.”