From Inside Our Hospitals, Meet Dr. Sean Spina

March 2022: Pharmacy Appreciation Month

Dr. Spina outside the Pharmacy at Royal Jubilee Hospital

Victoria Hospitals Foundation: In three sentences, how would you describe your roles at Island Health and the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists (CSHP)?

Dr. Sean Spina: I have been at Island Health since 2008 where I am currently the Acting Regional Clinical Pharmacy Manager and have the privilege of leading an incredible group of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians as they deliver care to our patients and support our teams across Vancouver Island. I am also the Director of Special Projects leading a diverse group of Academics, Patient Partners, Island Health staff and Clinicians in doing Patient Oriented Research on the innovative Hospital at Home model of care.  As the National President Elect for the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists (CSHP), we support our members through advocacy, education, promotion of best practices, facilitation of research and by recognizing practice excellence across Canada.

VHF: Why did you decide to pursue your career path?

Dr. SP: My career path unfolded in front of me due to my frustration with the paucity of data supporting the essential contributions that clinical pharmacy practice provides in patient care. I have dedicated much of my career to using data to advocate for recognition in the healthcare system of the essential role that our teams play in care delivery.

VHF: What is your favourite part about your various roles?

Dr. SP: When I think of my three roles, my favourite part is the fact that I have the honor of affecting the delivery of patient care locally at a specific hospital, provincially by working with the Ministry of Health, nationally through CSHP and internationally by publishing and presenting our research around the world.

VHF: What is your favourite part about working with the pharmacy teams in our hospitals?

Dr. SP: Pharmacy teams in the hospital are dedicated to the delivery of safe and effective medications to patients when they are at their sickest. Their outstanding commitment to care delivery makes working with our teams a very rewarding experience.

VHF: How is pharmacy care in-hospital different than the services provided at other community pharmacies?

Dr. SP: Patient care is a continuum that flows in and out of acute, community and long term care settings. In the hospital settings, patients are acutely ill requiring complex medication regimens that are often provided intravenously.  The acuteness of the patient and the urgency to provide safe and effective treatments is probably the biggest differentiation between hospital-based practice and community practice.

Some of Dr. Spina’s colleagues: Tristan Melton (Coordinator, Medication Technology Services), Anne Benard (Pharmacy Technology Analyst, Pharmacy Informatics), and Chelsea Milek (Pharmacy Information System Technician, Pharmacy Informatics).

VHF: How do pharmacists and pharmacy teams support the Hospital At Home program?

Dr. SP: Our innovative Hospital at Home program has dedicated clinical pharmacists working collaboratively with the multidisciplinary care team to identify, solve and prevent drug therapy issues with all the patients in the program.  In addition to providing clinical pharmacy services, the pharmacy technicians mix intravenous medications and package pills so that the patient can take hospital medications in the comfort of their own homes.

VHF: How has VHF donor support propelled the projects you work on?

Dr. SP: VHF donor support has been essential in allowing us to complete formal public engagement processes ensuring that we are aware of, and can respond to the healthcare needs of the community. Additionally, donor support has allowed us to use Patient Oriented Research principles to measure the impact our program is having on patients, family caregivers, and healthcare providers in real time.  As a result, healthcare institutions around the world are looking to our novel approach to inform healthcare innovation on a global scale.

VHF: What about in-hospital pharmacy might be surprising to our VHF donors? What might they not know?

Dr. SP: If I can think of one thing that I want people to know about hospital pharmacy, it would be that we are involved in every aspect of medication management throughout the healthcare system.

Pharmacy professionals lead innovative research, purchase medications for the entire health authority to ensure we have adequate supply available for patients and maintain the computer system to support the safe delivery of medications.  In addition to dispensing and compounding medications, our pharmacists and technicians work on the wards with our care teams seeing patients to ensure that they identify, solve, and prevent drug therapy problems at the bedside.

VHF: Is there anything else you would like to share with us or our donors?

Dr. SP: The support that we have received from VHF donors has allowed us to incorporate the patient and caregiver voice into “how” we deliver healthcare. By funding the work that I have had the honor of leading, we are now able to quantify the impact of our services by capturing the experiences of those who receive and deliver healthcare in Victoria, BC. VHF donors ARE making a difference in patient care. Thank you.

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