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Pharmacist’s gift of the gab drives long career with Drug and Poison Information Centre

PHSA celebrates BCCDC staff with long service awards.
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​From left: Debra Kent, Beverly Louis and David Patrick at the Long Service Award celebration.

Immediately after completing her pharmacy training in 1983, Beverly Louis was offered two positions and turned them both down, hoping a third option might work out. She’d interviewed to be a pharmacist with the Drug and Poison Information Centre (DPIC), but the manager making the decision was on holiday and Louis didn’t want to keep the others waiting. Her patience paid off and in 2018, she completed 35 years of service with DPIC.

BCCDC staff marked milestones in their careers at the Long Service Awards

Just as she retires, Beverly Louis received an award from the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) to mark her 35 years of service. She was one of 41 BC Centre for Disease control (BCCDC) staff recognized for hitting milestones in their careers with PHSA on February 13 at the Long Service Awards.

DPIC takes poison information calls from the public and health professionals 24-hours per day. Some of these calls are urgent – what to do if someone has ingested or been exposed to a drug or poison? As well, DPIC may receive calls during office hours from doctors, nurses and other health care professionals with questions on different medication topics, such as side effects, interactions, dosages and their use in pregnancy or breast-feeding.

“When I got this job, my mom told a friend, ‘You know how Bev likes talking on the phone all the time? Well, they are actually going to pay her to do that,’” said Louis, who grew up in Hartney, Manitoba, a town of about 600 people. “She thought I’d scored big time!”
While answering calls can be rewarding, especially when you tell a panicked parent that their child will be just fine, for Louis it was the job’s more academic demands that kept her interested. Looking back, the parts that stand out are the drug literature research and writing articles, the teaching and mentoring of pharmacy residents and Pharm.D. students and her role as editor of the two DPIC drug information newsletters.

“Working at DPIC is the ideal job because you continuously learn,” said Louis.

She used to tell the residents that “being a drug and poison information pharmacist is like being a student in that every day, you are given questions to research and come up with a response, but unlike being a student, you get paid to answer these questions and the responses benefit real patients.“ 

She estimates that she helped train over 300 hospital pharmacy residents, community pharmacy residents and Pharm.D. students throughout her career.

“A special thing about Bev is her skill as social convener,” said Raymond Li, also a pharmacist with DPIC who has been a colleague of Louis for the past 26 years. “She has kept in contact with former DPIC staff more than anyone else I know. If there is a DPIC gathering, Bev is there in the mix helping with the planning. Family is very important to Bev and DPIC is like an extended family to her.”

Louis in Greece in 2018

Heading into retirement, Louis is looking forward to getting back into yoga and sports like volleyball that have been difficult to keep up in recent years because of the 24-hour shift work at DPIC. She’ll also be travelling and working on family histories, tracing her parents’ roots and families back to their hometowns in China. 

“I don’t think that anyone could have asked for a more rewarding job,” she said. ”I was able to have my mind stimulated and challenged by questions from our lay and healthcare professional callers in both drug information and poison information. 

“Best of all, I had an amazing group of people to work with over the last almost four decades of my career.”

Louis is one of two BCCDC staff who completed 35 years of service in 2018; physician Carolyn Montgomery with the BCCDC’s STI/HIV clinic was also recognized.

BCCDC’s full list of Long Service Award recipients

Five year recipients
Karen Beinhaker                     
Jerry Cyr       
Anny Fang                          
John Fleetham
Shaila Jiwa                          
Melanie Kurrein                       
Irene Loewen-Mcfetridge     
Kathleen McLean                        
Adriana Muja                          
Hai NanXing                          
Li Rita Zhang                         

Ten year recipients
Baljeet Cambo                         
Esther Cummings                      
Julia Evans     
Laura Goodman                       
Helen Jackson       
Thomas Kosatsky                      
Fiona Mavalvalla                    
Dean Mirau                         
Susanna Ng                            
Dilma Sandrin                       
Loi Truong                        
Naveed Zafar                         

Fifteen year recipients
Lucia Balabuk                       
Jane Buxton
Mei Chong                         
Jennifer Denham                        
Diane Lees                          
Sion Shyng                         
Mary Taylor                        

Twenty year recipients
Mel Krajden 
Sara Miles                         
Morshed Muhammed
Shelina Rayani                        
Danuta Skowronski                    

Twenty-five year recipients
Patricia Hayes     
Lorraine McIntyre                      

Thirty year recipients
Carolin Hoskins                       
Kathryn McInnes                       

Thirty-five year recipients
Beverly Louis                         
Carolyn Montgomery




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