Patricia Lefebvre : A remarkable career

On the cusp of retirement, Patricia is closing an important chapter in the story of her professional life at the hospitals that make up the McGill University Health Centre.

"The MUHC has given me everything. It has offered me moments, opportunities and challenges. I joined the MUHC quite young and, right from the start, it was one opportunity after another.  There’s a reason I'vestayed here all of my career.” 

"This is how I see the world of healthcare," says Patricia at the outset. "The challenges are enormous, we know that, but the opportunities are there too for those who are interested in seizing them. Anyhow, that is what happened for me.” 

A pharmacist by training, Patricia Lefebvre did her clinical internships at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Immediately after completing her pharmacy residency, she returned to the Montreal General Hospital (MGH) as a clinical pharmacist. As of 1985, she was entrusted with a number of specialized roles at the MGH before becoming chief of the Department of Pharmacy there. 

In 2001, the hospital mergers began and Pharmacy was one of the first clinical departments to do this. During her mandate, the academic side of the department grew enormously. Many teaching positions and specialized residencies in Pharmacy were created with the Université de Montréal’s faculty of Pharmacy. The MUHC Pharmacy Department, along with that of the CHUM, became the one that welcomes the most pharmacy interns in all of Quebec.

“It creates the dynamic of academic institutions," says Patricia. "When our mission is teaching, research and evaluation, we have to be at the forefront of best practices, those that are based on the latest scientific data.Whether we want to or not, in order to teach well, we have to be constantly up to date."

In 2010, a new opportunity presented itself: the Department of Quality, Evaluation, Performance and Ethics (DQEPE). "We had to ensure that the different services developed an expertise in their respective areas and that they developed partnerships with the clinical departments," she confides. The role is perfect for someone who, like Patricia, loves to develop teams that complement one another. "Having people in different departments who are experts in their field always has an impact on the patient," she says. Patricia doesn't need convincing that, at the MUHC, everyone learns from each other. "The multidisciplinary approach is very well developed here. You share your expertise and you learn from others. A culture of respect for the role of every professional develops. Ihave had the privilege to work in this culture which is unique to the MUHC.” It was during her time with the DQEPE,that preparations were made for the big move, the Glen site planning and the major harmonization that were to follow. 

All this experience led her to undertake initiatives that stretched beyond the MUHC to the entire healthcare network. Her experience in pharmacy and the DQEPE allowed her to contribute initially through her involvement in the ministerial committee on preventable accidents in Quebec and with the MSSS's Vigilance pour la sécurité des soins group, and on the boards of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and the Institut national de l'excellenceensanté et services sociaux. This work led to legislative and regulatory changes related to quality and safety in care.

In 2019-2020, a moment arrived that will live long in memories - in any case, most certainly in the memories of those who work in the healthcare field: the COVID-19 pandemic. Patricia was asked to lead the vaccination effort for the entire MUHC and oversee the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). "We were able to draw on the expertise of the clinical support departments. We had to see to everything, ensure supplies (vaccines, masks, critical products, etc.)," she recalls. "We noticed two things in particular," she says. "First, the MUHC is never stronger than in times of crisis. That's when we're at our best, when the mission and the excellence of each and every one of us takes on its full meaning and all the specialties come together to provide outstanding care with compassion. Second, it is certain that we wouldn't have made it if it hadn't been for retired nurses returning enmasse to lend a strong hand with vaccination. This is certainly a testament to the high degree of attachment employees have to the MUHC and their colleagues." 

Throughout her career, Patricia has received numerous awards and recognitions: the Prix Roger Leblanc-2002 from the Association des pharmaciensd'établissements de santé du Québec, the Fellowship of the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists (2004), the Prix Louis Hébert-2007 from the Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec, an honorary diploma from the Association des diplômés de l'Université de Montréal in 2008, an honorary certificate awarded by the Association des diplômés de l’Université de Montréalin 2010, the Award of Merit from the Montreal General Hospital in 2010, and, in 2017, for the second time, the Fellowship of the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists. 

Patricia is retiring on December 22 full of pride and gratitude. “The MUHC is an amazing organization. I am blessed to have been part of such a dedicated and committed management team and to have worked alongside inspiring people who share my passion for our beautiful mission!”

She will leave the MUHC on a Christmas vacation that will continue indefinitely. Thank you for everything, Patricia!