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Destined for Saint Joseph Hospital

Destined for Saint Joseph Hospital

January 16, 2023 Posted in: Patients & Providers  3 minute read time


Marla Whitaker, PharmD, director of pharmacy at Saint Joseph Hospital, Saint Joseph East and Saint Joseph Jessamine, was 15 years old when she took a job at the local pharmacy in her hometown. That experience influenced her later decision to go to pharmacy school.

“Prior to graduation, I got a job at the VA in Lexington and discovered a passion for hospital pharmacy,” Whitaker said. In 1986, she joined the pharmacy team at Saint Joseph Hospital and has worked there full-time ever since — it’s a place where she continues to find great pleasure.

“The work is vibrant and always evolving,” Whitaker said. “My career at CHI Saint Joseph Health has given me joy beyond measure.”

Stepping Up Service

In 2021, Whitaker was recognized as the CHI Saint Joseph Health Leader of the Year, an honor she described as “humbling beyond words.” It was certainly well-deserved. As COVID-19 infection and cases spread during the first years of the pandemic, Whitaker said the pharmacy team took on many more roles. They increased their level of care to patients and staff, assisting with the employee vaccination effort and helping out at the monoclonal antibody clinic, the state’s outreach mission and more.

“We have such a dedicated, loyal staff of pharmacists and technicians,” said Whitaker, who is quick to recognize those who help make the pharmacy service possible, including Eric Miller, PharmD, market director of pharmacy services, and Greg Giles, market vice president of operations.

“Our executive leadership makes our mission possible,” she said. “I love collaborating with our large, multidisciplinary team in the hospital pharmacy.”

Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East also have pharmacy residency programs, and Whitaker says she really enjoys interacting with the residents.

“It’s so fun and rewarding to watch those young minds go from a new graduate to a seasoned clinical pharmacist within a year,” she said. “They quickly become family.”

Looking ahead, Whitaker said her team will be busy with projects such as planning expansions in the emergency room and retail pharmacy services.

“It can be a lot of work on a daily basis, but it’s incredibly rewarding,” she said. “Serving my patients and fellow employees has been more than a job for me, it’s a career of love. My husband, who is a psychologist, marvels all the time about how much I love my job. He reminds me — even though I don’t need reminding — that so many people don’t love their jobs. It’s incredible to have a job that’s more than a job.”

A version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2022 print edition of Spirit of Health.

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Spirit of Health magazine's print edition is distributed quarterly and focuses on topics related to our CHI Saint Joseph Health purpose and values.