Dispensing Patient Safety
Heide Christensen, MS, RPh, is assistant director of the Pharmacy Department at Good Samaritan Hospital. Her role goes far beyond filling prescription orders. She specializes in operational excellence, most especially as it impacts patient safety.
“We constantly evaluate our processes, seeking to identify improvement opportunities to strengthen safety,” explained Heide. “Catholic Health is a very patient-centered health care system. We have the highest standards in safety and reliability. Part of my role is to monitor our operations to maintain these high standards and, wherever possible, to raise that bar.”
Heide knows the territory, having developed her expertise over many years at Good Samaritan Hospital. “I was hired as a pharmacy technician when I was still earning my undergraduate degree at St. John’s University. After I received my license I became a staff pharmacist.” Later she implemented Good Samaritan’s Clinical Pharmacy Services program, which serves as an important resource for health care providers.
“Pharmacy services at a large hospital is quite complex.” says Heide. “We work side-by-side with the clinical teams ministering to our patients. We are responsible for instituting and strengthening safety measures to assure the best possible patient outcomes.”
Heide became pharmacy manager in the 1990s and assistant director a few years later. Asked to define the Catholic Health approach, she had a ready answer. “There’s a lot of respect and a lot of positive collaboration here. It’s like family; we come together each and every day to do our best to help people. And do it together.”
Heide took the lead in implementing Good Samaritan’s Antimicrobial Stewardship program. Before stewardship was even a “thing,” Heide’s clinical team was advocating for responsible antimicrobial use. That program was recently recognized as a Center of Excellence by the Infectious Disease Society of America.
“When we see our initiatives implemented and the positive impact on patient care and safety, we celebrate as a team,” says Heide. “Yet we never rest. We continually strive to do better and better.”
Heide also advocates for her profession through her participation in professional organizations. She has served as director of Education and Professional Development and most recently as president of the New York State Council of Health System Pharmacists. She has had the opportunity to represent New York State pharmacists as a delegate at the American Society of Health System Pharmacists annual meetings.