At Home with VHA: Meet the In-House Pharmacist Team
At Home with VHA tells the stories of those who make up our team. In every role, VHA care providers and staff are creating possibilities for more independence every day. We recently welcomed a team of In-House Pharmacists to VHA, filling first-of-their-kind roles as full-time experts to help our frontline teams and clients ensure safe medication management. Meet In-House Pharmacists Norman Umali, Tom Wang and Maneet Dhugge:
VHA: Hi Norman, Tom and Maneet and welcome to VHA! Could you start off by giving us an overview of your new role as part of the In-House Pharmacy team?
Norman: Well, to sum it up, all frontline staff at VHA who visit people in their homes will come across complex medication scenarios at some point. We know that many seniors take an average of 8 different medications, so our clients often have a lot of questions about their medicine and potential side effects. Many of these questions will typically get directed to a community pharmacist working in a drug store, for example. That’s where we come in. Because I am embedded at VHA, I can see clients in their natural environments to better understand their situations and share medical records with their care team, including accessing EMRI notes to provide a more comprehensive consultation. We are a dedicated support to our frontline teams, and we are excited to look at the ways to be involved to make sure our clients stay as safe as possible under our care.
Tom: I see my new role as a supportive one. We will be directly supporting the nursing team helping them manage the medication regimens of their patients. This may be answering drug related questions, conducting medication reviews and communicating with relevant stakeholders and management on how to best improve the care we provide for our patients. No doubt over the next few months our day-to-day tasks will change as we continue to evolve and flesh out our new role, but our patient first approach will forever remain the same.
Maneet: In this role we will collaborate with other members of the team to improve patient outcomes. The Pharmacist will provide support to the team by addressing medication-related concerns. This may include questions related to drug interactions, administration and adverse effects. We also hope to educate the team on topics that arise on a day-to-day basis (e.g., commonly asked questions).
VHA: What made you want to work in the home and community care sector?
Tom: While I was still in pharmacy school, I had the pleasure of being involved with the Interprofessional Seniors Outreach Program. We would be grouped into a team comprised of students of different healthcare professions and together we would visit seniors in the community. There, I gained a passion for senior care and interprofessional collaboration. At VHA, I can explore both passions.
Maneet: In the homecare setting Pharmacists, as medication experts, have the potential to make a valuable contribution and improve patient outcomes. Pharmacists also get to work closely with patients and build meaningful connections.
Norman: When I was in university to become a pharmacist, I ended up having an interest in older adult care. As I progressed through my program, I began to feel strongly that home care is the future of the healthcare system. After graduation, I worked in drug stores where I found older adults had a lot of complex questions for me that I didn’t feel I could give the appropriate amount of time and detail to in the store setting. In 2005, I joined the Toronto Central CCAC, which is now known as Home and Community Care Support Services with Ontario Health and I never looked back. Ending up at VHA feels like a natural progression of my passion and career.
VHA: What do you hope to achieve in your role?
Tom: I hope to help create a field for pharmacists in homecare where we will be able to use our expertise to the fullest.
Maneet: By incorporating Pharmacists to the team, I hope that this improves patient outcomes.
Norman: My focus is on client safety. I want to become a trustworthy source of medication-related support for frontline staff and I want to see as many people in their home as I can to provide my expertise.