The COVID-19 pandemic has required health care professionals to go to exceptional lengths to deliver quality care – and they have risen to the challenge. To recognize these outstanding contributions, the Fraser Health Renal Program created the Over and Above Award. The first recipient is Mark Ho, a clinical pharmacist who spearheaded a new pneumococcal vaccine program during the pandemic.
"We've always had outstanding renal program team members who go above the expected call of duty for patients or colleagues, but this challenging pandemic year has highlighted these individuals more than ever," explains Dr. Melanie Brown, Medical Director of the Fraser Health Renal Program, who helped create the award. "My hope is that people will feel like hard work is recognized by the program, particularly during a time that is so challenging in general for all."
Mark says he saw an important need for a more structured way of ensuring that kidney patients, who are particularly susceptible to infections, receive a pneumococcal vaccine. "While our program does a good job to ensure our patients are offered the influenza vaccine every year, we have not been able to consistently do the same for the pneumococcal vaccine," Mark explains.
For the in-centre sites, Mark developed an algorithm to support nursing staff in screening patients for Pneumovax-23 and administering the vaccine. He also worked with the community pharmacists to develop guidelines on running their vaccination clinics at the hemodialysis units during the pandemic, and to screen and offer patients the Pneumovax-23 along with the flu shot.
Mark says he was surprised to be the recipient of the Over and Above Award, but feels honoured. "I just want to acknowledge that everyone worked extremely hard during this difficult time," he says. "I am truly grateful and honoured to be part of a wonderful team and such a supportive program."
Moving forward, a committee will convene and vote for an award recipient on an annual basis. Melanie says the committee is considering expanding the award in the future to include different categories, relating for example to exceptional teamwork, lifetime achievement, and creative problem solving.