What Saxony's pharmacy of the future will look like

Pharmacist Cordula Grüber has been working on it for five years and is now investing 3.9 million euros. What makes the new building of her Sonnen-Apotheke pharmacy in Bischofswerda so special.
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Das Bild zeigt den geplanten Neubau einer Apotheke.
This is what the new Sonnen-Apotheke pharmacy in Bischofswerda will look like. © Engineering office bauplanconcept

From Miriam Schönbach

Bischofswerda. Her father proudly calls her "Pfundskerl". Antonius Grüber stands on the lawn in front of the hospital in Bischofswerda. He is holding a planted boat in his hands. Numerous guests have come to the handover of the funding decision for the new construction of the Sun Pharmacy his daughter Cordula Grüber. The entrepreneur is investing 3.9 million euros in her vision for the future. The Free State of Saxony is supporting the project with 1.5 million euros from the "Regional Growth" program.

It is a very personal moment between many official speeches. "We wish you that you can guide a ship like this, called Apotheke, safely through all the waves - and that it continues to sail the seas without any major obstacles in the future," says the 82-year-old, before leaving the stage to the others. But the praise is encouraging, it is caresses for the soul after the many ups and downs of the project.

Cordula Grüberaus knows all about obstacles. The first ideas on paper by the engineering firm bauplanconcept from Neukirch/Lausitz for what is probably one of the most modern pharmacies in Saxony date back more than five years. The Bischofswerda pharmacist is all the happier on this Tuesday afternoon: "The new Sonnen-Apotheke is being built here on around 700 square meters, an energy self-sufficient building using photovoltaics and geothermal energy. We are thus improving the Services of general interest for the residents of Bischofswerder Land with extended accessibility."

Energy supply largely self-sufficient in future

But the new building should be able to do even more. "We are responding to the demographic change that is particularly noticeable in our region in order to meet the additional pharmaceutical needs of our ageing population," says the pharmacist. Her thesis is supported by the population forecast of the Free State of Saxony from the previous year: Accordingly, the population in the district of Bautzen will not only decline, but also grow older. There are currently around 84,200 people living here who are at least 65 years old. By 2040, there will be around 4,200 more.

Cordula Grüber knows the statistics. In the search for funding for her project, she and her supporters have knocked on numerous doors of funding providers. One person who has always believed in the "captain" is CDU member of state parliament Patricia Wissel: "Once this project has been completed - and certainly not for a few years - we will really realize what she has achieved here," says the politician.

The Free State is happy to support such foresight, adds Saxony's Minister of Economic Affairs Martin Dulig (SPD): "Thanks to the EU funds, our 'Regional Growth' program specifically strengthens Saxony's SMEs. This instrument is particularly effective for local companies during structural change." In his view, it is important for the state that there are medium-sized companies like Sonnen-Apotheke "that say: We are regionally anchored, we choose this region."

Space for more than 20,000 medicines

Architect Oliver Thomas has been familiar with the project from day one. "We see the pharmacy as an addition to the existing medical center on Kamenzer Straße in Bischofswerda. We have the ambulance station and the hospital here, among other things," he says, explaining the choice of location. Incidentally, the search began with measuring the solar radiation on the site. This is important if solar energy coupled with geothermal energy is to provide electricity and heat in the Sonnen-Apotheke.

A photovoltaic system will be installed on the roof. By installing large battery storage units and an emergency power generator, the pharmacy of the future will also be able to operate in the event of a power failure. Electric charging stations will be installed for the delivery vehicles. Inside, there will be sufficient space on two floors for modern workstations, storage capacity and an automated warehouse for more than 20,000 medicines. It will transport the medicines via conveyor belts to up to eight dispensing points to ensure an effective process.

"The better standard of the building in future will preserve jobs and improve working conditions for employees," says Cordula Grüber - and is delighted that the plans on paper are becoming reality - by the way 30 years after the founding of her Sonnen-Apotheke in Bischofswerda.

Currently still for rent in the medical center

The pharmacist and her 26 employees are currently based in a medical center near the hospital. In addition to supplying pharmaceutical products and services, the pharmacy's unique selling point is its comprehensive incontinence care on prescription. With a small team led by a nurse, she currently provides care for 600 incontinence patients.

The search for construction companies is now beginning for the engineering firm bauplanconcept from Neukirch/Lausitz. "However, we are very optimistic that we will receive suitable offers," says Oliver Thomas. The ground-breaking ceremony is currently planned for mid-June 2024. The building is scheduled for completion in December 2025. It will be a day when Antonius Grüber might say "Pfundskerl" to his daughter again.

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