Gertruden Apotheke Zehlendorf
25 January 2021

A visit to…
the oldest pharmacy in Steglitz-Zehlendorf

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High season at Gertruden Pharmacy: while Berlin’s cityscape at the beginning of 2021 is characterised by emptiness, Norbert Bartetzko and his team are holding the fort. Because pharmacies are also open during lockdown. Customers continue to be supplied with medicines and receive professional advice here. In this interview, the pharmacist and Gewobag commercial tenant talks about his work in this time of crisis.

Mr Bartetzko, you’ve been working as a pharmacist for almost 35 years. How did you get into the profession?  

Norbert Bartetzko: It runs in our family. My grandfather took over Gertruden Pharmacy in 1923. Three of his five children also became pharmacists – including my father. That was very formative at home.

… and you then carried on the family tradition right away?

Norbert Bartetzko: When I was a young man, I wanted to do something else and completed an apprenticeship as a bookseller. But it soon became apparent that this wasn’t the right path for me. I decided to study pharmacy when I was 25.

Gertruden Apotheke
The Bartetzko family has operated Gertruden Pharmacy for three generations now.

Today you are the owner of the oldest pharmacy in Steglitz-Zehlendorf.

Norbert Bartetzko: That’s right. Gertruden Pharmacy was founded in 1887 and is, therefore, a business with tradition. Although we mostly dispense machine-made medicines today, we also traditionally produced individual medicines. These include, for example, ointments, tinctures and eye drops. One or more of our ten-man team is actually always working on formulations.

What do you like about your work?

Norbert Bartetzko: What I like most about my work being in touch with and helping people. This is where my scientific knowledge comes into play. And I also have a feeling for business. For me, this is just the right mix.

How is your relationship with your regulars?

Norbert Bartetzko: Every day, I stand at counter, as I have done for several decades. That’s how people here in the neighbourhood know me and I’m often recognised when I’m out and about. My customers place a lot of trust in me, which is very important in my line of work.

What are your customers concerned about in this current situation?

Norbert Bartetzko: The coronavirus pandemic. They often only know what they’ve seen in the newspaper or on television and want to know how they should deal with it and whether they should get vaccinated or not. Professional advice is vital. And yes, I would get vaccinated immediately. Our customers trust our advice.

Your pharmacy will remain open during lockdown: are you afraid of becoming infected with Covid-19?

Norbert Bartetzko: This virus has so many faces and you don’t know how it will get you. Of course, as pharmacists we find out when our customers have Covid. No one is safe from it and, for that reason, everyone should avoid contact wherever possible.

What kind of safeguards do you have in place?

Norbert Bartetzko: We have limited the number of people coming into the pharmacy and we have already been wearing FFP2 masks for a while. We disinfect the sales counter several times a day and have placed a plexiglass partition on the counter to protect ourselves and our customers. We also properly ventilate regularly. There’s a lot we do to minimise the risk. However, there’s no such thing as 100 percent certainty.

What question are you asked the most at work?

Norbert Bartetzko: The most frequently asked question is: “Do you have this in stock?” – and a prescription is presented. And we have a very large storeroom and all the drawers are full. I’m very proud of that!

Why do pharmacists actually wear white lab coats?

Norbert Bartetzko: Wearing a lab coat at the sales counter is not absolutely necessary. We only really need to when working on formulations. But we still wear it today as a tradition when we come into contact with customers. And for me, the white lab coat is a signal of professional work as a pharmacist.

Thank you for talking with us!

Illustrations © Anja Stiehler/Raufeld Medien

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