Nominee: Katie Steele
Organization: Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Centers
Katie Steele is the Pharmacy Manager and Clinical Pharmacist at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Centers at one of their locations in Newberg, Oregon. She arrived at the clinic at a time when it was forced to shut down their 340B pharmacy, a move which deeply impacted their patient population. Despite fiscal tough times, Steele, then a pharmacy resident, was willing to join the staff and immediately made the difference. She assisted with medication reviews for elderly patients who sometimes took as many as 30 different medications and helped reduce the number to a more effective and manageable level. If a patient needed a second blood pressure reading check, Steele was there. But where Steele’s heart and soul poured out was when she met with her own patients to work on helping them manage their chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, asthma or COPD.
“Katie listened to their stories and struggles and took the initiative to speak with our pharmacy director about what she heard,” writes Cris Pinzon, Clinic Manager, in the Health Care Hero nomination form. “There were heart-breaking stories of patients unable to access their medication or stuck in coordination struggles between pharmacies or going to commercial pharmacies but unable to pay their prices.”
That’s when Steele came up with a solution for patients to break down the barriers they faced in getting medicine. She approached the pharmacy director to ask if she could serve in a dual role as both pharmacist and clinical pharmacist for the small rural health center. Not only did the move keep overhead costs down and reopen the pharmacy and allow patients to get their medications locally, it also allowed for the hire of a clinical pharmacy tech.
Steele’s enthusiasm for the job doesn’t just stop with improving patient care and cost efficiency. We also hear that Steele’s bring an abundance of cheer during the holiday season when she comes to work wearing sequined elf shoes, an ugly holiday sweater, and blinking ornament jewelry, bearing a box of holiday-themed baked goods. This we gotta see.
To vote for the Health Center Hero Award Recipient visit the NACHC Facebook Page.