A Familiar Face in Pharmacy at BCH

Lynn Hodson and Dr. Heather HodsonEvery family has traditions. And within the family of employees at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville, the name “Hodson” represents a strong tradition in the past, present and future of the pharmacy department.

Pharmacist Lynn Hodson came to Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in 1977 after meeting then-BCH CEO Roger Ford in Buffalo – he was her neighbor there. Her career in pharmacy up to that point had been in a wide range of settings. She trained in one of the first PharmD programs in the nation, at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Hodson started her Pharmacy Residency at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh. She subsequently worked on the medical teaching unit there. Then, Buffalo General Community Mental Health Clinic recruited her to the Buffalo area to work in the new Lithium clinic. There, as she put it, she “built a pharmacy department starting with just four walls.” She moved on to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center as regional director of psychiatric pharmacy in the mid-1970s. Hodson belongs to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), which has rigorous accrediting criteria for members.

With 60-hour weeks and odd hours in Buffalo, Lynn was drawn to the new challenge of establishing a pharmacy department at BCH. “The pharmacy at BCH started as a cabinet,” said Hodson. And so it began; Hodson has been a familiar name and friendly face at BCH since 1977.

After working full-time at BCH for 25 years, she took early retirement in 2002 and continued at area retail pharmacies as a consulting pharmacist for the next several years. Lynn returned in 2007 as interim director of pharmacy at then-CEO Mary Kwiatek’s request. She has remained as a consultant and pharmacist ever since.

That included stepping in during a 10-week period over the summer when BCH searched for a new pharmacy director. “We’ve had great luck having pharmacists stay here for years at a time,” said Darlene Schrantz, RN, BSN, director of patient care services. “In a rural hospital, recruiting pharmacists, providers and nursing staff takes a great deal of effort – but once they’re here, they tend to stay.”

During the search process, a familiar name rose to the top of the pile: Dr. Heather Hodson, the elder Hodson’s daughter. Her experience at BCH started when her mother brought her in as an infant while she worked. By the time Heather was in high school, she was volunteering at BCH and working as a pharmacy technician during the summer while she attended D’Youville College as a pre-med/biology major.

After graduating in 1999, Heather worked as a pharmacy tech in Williamsville and at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo (WCHOB). A few years later, she moved cross country to San Francisco, where she continued as a pharmacy tech in the Castro District of San Francisco. A manager there encouraged her to apply to pharmacy school for further education.

That manager did not expect what happened next. Heather took her PCATS (similar to MCATS, for pharmacy school) and ended up enrolling at a school on the East Coast: the University at Buffalo.

“No one was more surprised at that than I was,” said the elder Hodson. Heather’s familiarity and family history in the pharmacy field was a great source of strength as she worked, again, at WCHOB, on pediatrics floors while earning her doctorate of pharmacy degree.

Heather stayed with WCHOB after graduation, working as a pharmacist for nine years. She then spent a year at Mercy Hospital in a more clinical capacity, rounding with physicians, making recommendations for drug therapy, and working in a more direct role with practitioners and patients. There she gained experience with adult patients facing cardiac and geriatric conditions.

The opening in fall 2016 at BCH came at just the right time for Heather. “I was on an intense schedule at Mercy,” she explained. “The thought of being the pharmacist for a hospital that I know so well – it feels like home to me.”

At BCH, the younger Dr. Hodson now handles the daily administration of a pharmacy department that supports the hospital’s 24-bed acute care floor and emergency department. Dr. Hodson is on-call for hospital needs and requests. She also advises policies on reducing medical errors and improving processes related to medications.

As she looked ahead in the pharmacy field, Heather realized that many pharmacists had little knowledge about the natural and homeopathic substances. “Patients are taking these treatments to manage or try to prevent medical conditions,” said Heather. “We have to pay attention to that as pharmacists.”

Acknowledging that need for more detailed information, Heather pursued a certificate in herbal medicine on her own over nine months to build her understanding the over-the-counter supplements, vitamins and herbs. Combined with her pharmacy experience and medical awareness, Heather can draw from two deep pools of knowledge when participating in patient care.

“There’s a team aspect to what we do as pharmacists,” said Lynn, a sentiment that her daughter echoed. “There’s the daily administrative aspect to our department,” said Heather. “But I’m part of a team here with providers and physicians, all focused on finding the right medications at the right doses at the right time for our patients.”