Vancouver, BC

PHC Pharmacy Leadership

PHC Pharmacy Leadership

Steve Shalansky

Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator
St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Health Care

Michelle Hinch

Coordinator of the Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services (LMPS) Year 1 Pharmacy Residency Program (was Pharmacy Clinical Supervisor at St. Paul’s Hospital Providence Health Care prior)

Winnie Ma

Pharmacy Distribution Coordinator
St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Health Care

Profile submitted by:
Renée Dagenais

Brief description of role or responsibilities

  • Steve Shalansky is the Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator for St. Paul’s Hospital/Providence Health Care.

  • Michelle Hinch is currently the Coordinator for the Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services Year 1 Pharmacy Residency Program. Prior to February 2021, Michelle was the Pharmacy Clinical Supervisor for St. Paul’s Hospital/Providence Health Care.

  • Winnie Ma is the Pharmacy Distribution Coordinator for St. Paul’s Hospital and Mount Saint Joseph’s Hospital.

Description of roles to improve patient care or provide pharmacy services during the COVID-19 pandemic

Although this spotlight focuses on 3 individuals, it was the collective effort of the entire pharmacy leadership team at Providence Health Care that has made it possible for our pharmacy staff to face and overcome the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. So, a big thank you goes out to all of the individuals who have dedicated their time and efforts over the past year!

There are countless obstacles and unexpected turns that Steve, Michelle, and Winnie have had to navigate to ensure pharmacy staff were well-supported and patients continued to receive quality care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The following are just a few examples of the challenges and logistical hurdles that, between Steve, Michelle, and Winnie, have been faced during the pandemic response.

One of the foremost concerns regarded staffing levels and pharmacists’ clinical assignments. This was especially at the beginning of the pandemic, when there was anticipation for an overwhelming surge of patients being admitted to hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Minimum staffing levels had to be established, with expected shortages due to sick calls and individuals having to self-isolate, staff having to stay home due to loss of child care when schools and daycares shut down, as well as accommodating for staff who were at higher risk of infection. Clinical assignments also needed to be rearranged at a moment’s notice to account for these shortages and to keep up with the frequent ward movements and closures. Ward movements and closures also added strain to the operations of pharmacy distribution, but coordinated efforts were made to ensure that Pharmacy Assistants and Technicians were available to provide timely support in managing medication supplies on all units.

Also urgent was the need to systematically assess each role to determine who could work from home and who needed to be on-site; for those working from home, remote access had to be obtained (a task that was fraught with technical difficulties), and for those staying on-site, work spaces needed to be adapted to allow for social distancing. On top of this, when a ward with a clinical pharmacy office was closed in preparation for COVID-19 admissions, new locations for our CTU pharmacists to safely work quickly had to be found, while a planned ward move required relocation of another clinical pharmacy office to a new floor.

When it came to PPE, regular communications were sent out to keep pharmacy staff well-informed about what the latest requirements were – this was ever-changing in the time of PPE shortages. Michelle even attended a ‘Train the Trainer’ session to ensure that staff otherwise unable to make the scheduled sessions regarding how to don and doff PEE could still receive the appropriate in-person training. Cleaning and infection control procedures also had to be amped up to ensure safe handling of medications, such as non-formulary items brought in by patients and the quarantining/cleaning of medications returned from the ward. 

With the PHC Emergency Operations Committee, our pharmacy leadership was involved in the monitoring of high priority drug and supply shortages so that inventory could be proactively forecasted and managed. And when it came to therapies recommended to treat COVID-19, detailed communications were sent to pharmacy staff regarding criteria for use, approval processes, and how to access supply if needed for their patients.

One of the more recent actions was the advocacy and efforts during the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine to PHC staff. Difficult decisions had to be made regarding how to prioritize who in the pharmacy department received their vaccines, especially with last-minute vaccine clinics that required confirmation of who would attend less than 24 hours in advance, sometimes even on the weekend. However, our leadership was successful in having all clinical pharmacists vaccinated over the course of the roll out. With the vaccine now becoming more widely available to the public, collaborative efforts have been dedicated to developing processes and education for ordering and documenting vaccinations for patients.

Description of impact to improve patient care or provide pharmacy services during the COVID-19 pandemic

Throughout these times of uncertainty, fear, and continual change, Steve, Michelle, Winnie, and the rest of the PHC pharmacy leadership have remained calm, focused, and resilient. This has been vital to helping pharmacy staff breathe a bit easier and continue to perform their essential role in providing quality care to our patients, be it in the front lines or behind the scenes.

Thank you, for all that you have done and continue to do to support the PHC pharmacy team!