As owner of Peoples Drug Mart on Quadra Island, Colleen Hogg has dedicated much of her adult life to serving the Vancouver Island community through her pharmacy practice.
Purchasing the business as a young entrepreneur in 1999, Hogg and her husband and co-owner, Shane Hogg, put in many hours establishing the pharmacy in the remote town, working seven days a week. Even the birth of her first child, Connor – just one year later – barely slowed her down.
“We like to call him our drug store baby,” Hogg says with a laugh. “I had him and was back at the store two weeks later. I wore him in a sling, or had him in the bassinet or Jolly Jumper. My customers would sometimes take the baby while I filled their prescription.”
Having grown up in the small town of Union Bay, also on Vancouver Island, Hogg was passionate about serving the needs of a small community. “Growing up in a small town, you feel invested and a part of a community,” she says. “I always knew I wanted to try and find a way to help people and feel like I’m contributing.”
A self-described hands-on person, Hogg has developed an excellent rapport with her customers, as well as her fellow health-care practitioners, keeping in close contact with the community’s doctors to help monitor patients. As the only pharmacy on Quadra Island, Hogg has introduced medication reviews, individual personalized medication cards, immunizations, and has provided a much-needed local source for OTC medications, mobility aids and first-aid supplies for the island’s expanding senior community.
Since opening up shop, health-care services for Quadra Island residents have greatly improved, says Elizabeth Doak, a retired nurse, pharmacy customer and longtime resident. “For years, our island had irregular local physician coverage,” she says. “I believe the presence of a pharmacist supported stability in our local physician presence and improved the overall health of many residents, who could get advice from a consistent, caring local professional.”
Once established on Quadra Island, Hogg’s reach continued to grow in order to meet the unique needs of several different remote communities surrounding Campbell River. For nearly a decade, Hogg has operated a remote location at the Community Health Centre on nearby Cortes Island, providing regular prescription pick-up service to island residents throughout the week (dispensing from her Quadra Island facility).
“Colleen has designed a fast and highly effective operation that supports a level of service unavailable to many small communities, let alone one as remote as ours,” says Jason Andrews, vice president of the Cortes Community Health Association. “Her efforts are a credit to her profession, and have contributed greatly to our quality of life.”
More recently, Hogg opened a second location in Gold River, a remote town 1.5 hours’ drive from Campbell River. Struggling to maintain staff in the remote location, Hogg oversees the location as a telepharmacy, providing safe and reliable pharmacy services for the community, while maintaining effective operations within her business.
“Setting up the telepharmacy took a lot of time and effort, sourcing materials and being able to find ways to be effective,” she notes. “To have a good quality of care for my clients, and still keep the doors open is always my goal.”
As an advocate for not only the pharmacy profession but also access to health-care services for remote communities, Hogg is passionate about not only expanding her scope of practice through continuing education and certifications, but also through participating in pilot projects and new studies at UBC.
“You have to make yourself available to learn and try new things in your career,” says Hogg, who hopes to one day volunteer with Pharmacists Without Borders. “To be successful in pharmacy, you need to like to help people and be passionate about helping people.”