From what he wears, precautions he takes before entering the hospital, and how he interacts with medical teams and patients to his educational responsibilities and safety measures upon returning home, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy’s Jared Sheley has changed his daily practices in every way.
A clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice in the school, Sheley holds a joint appointment as a clinical pharmacy specialist at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon, Ill. He earned his doctorate from the SIUE School of Pharmacy in 2012.
“I work with attending physicians and medical resident physicians with the Saint Louis University Family Medicine Residency program to provide the most appropriate, effective and safe evidenced-based care for patients being treated by my particular service, which can include patients admitted to any unit of the hospital for nearly any reason,” Sheley explained. “We serve as the primary treatment team for all of the patients’ needs throughout their hospital stay.”
“We typically meet as a multidisciplinary team every morning to discuss assessments and decide on plans for all of the patients’ medical needs, and follow up throughout the day as needed,” he added. “In addition to this, I am responsible for implementing and documenting treatment plans for pharmacy-driven protocols to manage things such as antibiotic dosing and monitoring, dosing of blood thinning medications and more.”
While still seeing patients with a variety of health challenges, individuals battling COVID-19 are among those he’s currently serving. The magnitude of the pandemic, and corresponding health and safety directives have dramatically altered Sheley’s work.
“I regularly educate our physicians and other medical staff on treatments and evidence for treatments, both in an informal way during our daily interactions, now done by phone whenever possible, as well as through formal lectures which I typically lead each week,” he added. “This has been important with COVID-19, as it is such a new disease for everyone, and we continue to learn more about it every day. There is a lot of new information coming out quickly, as well as a lot of misinformation circulating among both the public and health-care settings.”
Sheley’s colleague, SIUE alumna Dawn Dankenbring is the Pharmacy Residency Program director at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, is also providing direct patient care to COVID-19 patients. She is one of the pharmacists working in the Intensive Care Unit. She credits the hospital’s proactive development of a multidisciplinary COVID-19 Task Force with clearly defining processes of how best to manage the surge of positive patients.
“This task force continues to meet daily, and my role as a representative of the Pharmacy Department, is to keep our hospital staff informed of our current drug inventory, as unfortunately, national drug shortages present a real challenge in effectively caring for these patients,” Dankenbring said.
“The biggest challenge in these circumstances is trying to pharmacologically manage the relative unknown, and with limited drug availability,” she explained. “There are days when you feel that maybe what you are doing is having an impact, and others that are nothing short of disheartening.”
Despite the personal and professional challenges surrounding the novel Coronavirus, Sheley and Dankenbring remain committed to the oath they took as pharmacists, vowing to consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering as primary concerns, and applying knowledge, experience and skills to assure optimal patient outcomes.
“Pharmacists play a vital role in ensuring patients receive the most effective and safest treatment possible, and that is as important now as ever,” Sheley emphasized. “I am limiting direct interaction with patients, wearing personal protective equipment when appropriate, and avoiding interactions with people outside my immediate family to avoid being a vector of disease spread.”
Dankenbring notes a positive emerging in this unprecedented time is the collaboration among healthcare workers across the country, even between those who work for “competitor” hospitals and health systems.
“Pharmacists continue to work diligently, on and off the clock, to review the rapidly emerging scientific evidence for treatment from around the globe,” she said.
To the public she urged, “Please understand that at this point in time, our best course of action continues to be prevention. As social distancing measures begin to lessen, it is important not to become complacent, and to continue to practice proper infection control precautions.”
PHOTO: From left, SIUE School of Pharmacy Clinical Assistant Professor Jared Sheley and alumna Dawn Dankenbring, Pharmacy Residency Program director at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon.