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Pharmacy Appreciation Month

Celebrating Pharmacy Appreciation Month at Yukon Hospitals

March marks Pharmacy Appreciation Month, and we'd like to share some of the great work the pharmacy professionals at Whitehorse General Hospital do. Their contributions are integral to healthcare in the Yukon, ensuring optimal patient care and outcomes. 

The Heart of Pharmacy: A Team Approach
Pharmacy Manager Amy Fry, with over six years of experience at Yukon Hospitals, leads a team of six pharmacists, including a cancer care specialist, and nine pharmacy technicians. Fry emphasizes the role of hospital pharmacists as medication experts. "We're the ones optimizing drug therapy for the best patient outcomes," she states.

The uniqueness of their job lies in working directly with the healthcare team, collaborating with physicians who write medication orders and nurses who administer them. This close interaction allows pharmacists to inquire about medications, provide education, and investigate adverse drug reactions, ensuring patients receive the right medicine in the correct dosage. "We're also managing drug interactions," Fry adds, highlighting the importance of monitoring patients and adjusting dosages when necessary.

“We consult one another and our physician team, too,” she says. “We have a great group.” The strong sense of teamwork among pharmacists and healthcare providers at Yukon Hospitals is a key factor in making the best decisions for patient care.

The Backbone: Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians are the backbone of the hospital's pharmacy, playing a crucial role in its smooth functioning. "Pharmacy technicians are mostly responsible for dispensing drug therapy and ensuring the right medications are where they need to be," explains Fry. Their responsibilities include managing medication inventory, working closely with the pharmacy team to order and receive medications, and filling patient carts for nurses to administer.

“Accuracy is really important in the work they do,” says Fry. “They’re a very task-oriented group of practitioners, following specific processes and ensuring that the right medication has been selected.”

Pharmacy technicians also play a crucial role in the preparation of sterile IV medications at Yukon Hospitals, which require specialized training. Their task-oriented approach and attention to detail are vital to maintaining the high standards of patient care at Yukon Hospitals.

Specialized Care: Cancer Treatment
The pharmacy team includes specialists like Jennifer Wallace, a Chemotherapy Pharmacist with 11 years of experience. Wallace works closely with the Cancer Care team at Karen's Room, a dedicated space for providing cancer care treatment and services. Her role involves ordering and preparing chemotherapy medications individually for each patient and reviewing their home medications to avoid interactions with chemotherapy. Wallace also navigates medication coverage for patients through various means, such as the Yukon Government, private insurance, or compassionate access through drug companies. 

Wallace credits the strong sense of team amongst cancer care at Karen’s Room. “It’s a terrific interdisciplinary team with the nurses, pharmacy, and physicians,” she says. “We’re all here to work together and do the best for the patient."

The rewards of the job are in working closely with patients themselves, says Wallace. “It feels good when we can obtain a drug that we’ve been trying to get covered, or a patient completes their therapy and they’re able to leave,” says Wallace. “But we also get to know patients who are on longer-term chemotherapy and develop close relationships, as well.”

Patient centered care is the ultimate goal, says Wallace.

Pioneering Treatment: Frostbite Research
Yukon Hospitals is also proud to recognize the innovative work of Josianne Gauthier, known as the 'Frostbite Pharmacist.' Over the past 12 years, Gauthier has worked with Dr. Alex Poole to pioneer the use of Iloprost in frostbite treatment, developing protocols in the Yukon and beyond.

Frostbite is still a rare condition, says Gauthier, but they see around 5 to 10 frostbite cases in Whitehorse, every year. “We’ve been working from the mindset that we live in the north and we should be good at treating frostbite,” says Gauthier. Frostbite, caused by ice crystals freezing in tissue, is a rare but serious condition that can occur quickly, often without obvious signs.

These efforts have positioned them as leading experts in frostbite treatment in North America, and they regularly provide advice and counsel to other healthcare providers. Recently, they formed the Canadian Frostbite Care Network to consolidate information on frostbite treatment and protocols. "In the moment of treating frostbite, access to expertise is very, very critical," Gauthier emphasizes. "There are treatments that can make a huge difference in the outcomes."

Yukon Hospitals celebrates the dedication, expertise, and innovative spirit of our pharmacy professionals. Their contributions are essential to providing the best patient care in the Yukon and beyond.