Pharmacist Janet Herzog was just about ready to retire two years ago, in the spring of 2020. She’d just turned 65 and was looking forward to spending more time with family, friends, and doing a bit of travelling. Then the pandemic hit, and instead of slowing down she redoubled her efforts.
“We were going flat out — the last two years just flew by,” she says.
In 2020, patients who would normally have gone to their family doctor or the ER started coming to Rimbey Drug Mart. And since both Janet and Rimbey Drug Mart managing partner William Poggemiller are prescribing pharmacists, they were able to help alleviate the strain the on the healthcare system and reassure many patients.
“We hope that we made a difference. In the early days people were calling with questions about their viral symptoms, and we were also helping patients who were really unwell — oncology patients, eye infections, dental abscesses. William and I would prescribe and follow-up with patients to make sure they got better,” she says. “Then when the COVID-19 vaccines were developed we administered those as well.”
Now Janet’s preparing the reduce her hours and pass the bulk of her duties on to pharmacist Emily Wong, who recently moved to Rimbey from Toronto.
45 years in pharmacy
Over her long career in pharmacy (the last decade of which has been at Rimbey Drug Mart), Janet has helped host blood pressure clinics, administered immunizations for both public health and travel vaccines, fitted patients with compression stockings, conducted medication reviews, prescribed to treat minor conditions and advocated for healthy lifestyle changes.
“I’d like to be able to prescribe people vegetables,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve felt strongly called to self care, and the ways we can manage our own health: diet, lifestyle, supplements, making time to get outdoors and care for our mental health.”
Even in the internet age when patients could look for answers online, Janet says the pharmacy remained a place where patients could come for trusted advice. She’ll cherish the personal aspect of the job — the authentic encounters she’s had with patients, and the cooperation among members of the dispensary team. Though they handled a busy workload in tight quarters, Janet says she always felt they were a cohesive, effective team.
As for what’s next (aside from a few hours a week helping at the pharmacy), Janet says she has a lot of ideas with no specific plans, but she does have a joke or two ready.
“I have a lovely garden and acreage, so I will be going to so-called ‘greener pastures,’ as well as being a pinch-hitter for my grandchildren.”
A warm Rimbey welcome to pharmacist Emily Wong!
Stepping in to fill Janet Herzog’s position at Rimbey Drug Mart is pharmacist Emily Wong, who comes to Alberta after 23 years at a downtown Toronto hospital pharmacy. Emily fell in love with Central Alberta when visiting friends in Bentley, so when she decided it was time to escape the big city, Rimbey Drug Mart was a perfect fit.
“I enjoy hunting, and that’s going to be so much more accessible here than in Southern Ontario. I also rode horses as a teenager, and Alberta seems like the perfect place to get back into it,” she says.
As for the pharmacy, Emily is looking forward to the continuity of care that comes with working in a community pharmacy.
“I love interacting with patients here! As a hospital pharmacist in the neonatal ICU in Toronto I was working with babies — they can’t tell you their symptoms, and once they leave the hospital, that’s it, I never see them again. I’m looking forward to getting to know people in the community here in Rimbey.”
Visit Rimbey Drug Mart to give your well wishes to both Janet and Emily at 4917-50 Ave., open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.