In Memoriam: A Tribute to Donna Pipa

By: Chris Doody



The Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists (CSHP), and the pharmacy world at large, has lost a long time active member, volunteer, and professional leader.  Donna Pipa passed away on April 27, 2017 at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary.  Donna began her career as a staff pharmacist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary and was active in CSHP, both at the branch and national level, from the very beginning of her career.  As Director of Pharmacy at the Alberta Children’s Hospital from 1983 to 2002, Donna was a great mentor who empowered her staff to develop stellar patient-centred pharmacy services.  She has been described as an amazing director and “the best boss ever.” She treated her staff with dignity and respect, and always had an open door policy.  Donna inspired many with her passion for pharmacy and she holds a special place in the hearts of many young pharmacists who recall the tremendous impact she had on their careers and personal growth.

Donna served two terms as Alberta Branch delegate to CSHP and was CSHP President in 1997-1998.  Donna was a tireless volunteer for a number of both branch and national CSHP initiatives and was a regular reviewer for the Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy.  The 1996 CSHP AGM in Calgary owed much of its success to the leadership Donna brought as chair of the host committee.  Donna was awarded the Isabel E. Stauffer Meritorious Service Award and Fellowship status in recognition of her contribution to the profession of pharmacy and CSHP (branch and national).

Throughout Donna’s professional life, she openly and willingly shared her experience as a hospital pharmacist and thought-provoking leader to help build and promote the future of digital health.  She was engaged in the PIN Working Group to design the Pharmaceutical Information Network, which went live in Alberta in 2002. She also served as Lead Transition Coordinator of the Calgary eHR Deployment Team in the delivery of Alberta’s first electronic health record, followed by the implementation of Alberta Netcare.  Donna was Alberta’s representative on the Canada Health Infoway pharmacy reference committee.

During her time working with the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada Donna was the project manager for 3 successive projects to develop a national pharmacy student education program about using digital technology and information in health. She was very committed to improving students’ ability to function in the new age of digital health and was valued for her knowledge and experience relating to the use of electronic health records in Alberta.  Her colleagues from the informatics era of her career describe Donna as: an excellent listener, an unfaltering advocate, a dedicated and hard worker, and as someone who remained true to her pharmacy roots and who would always approach a topic or challenge with a pharmacy first perspective.

That was Donna-the-pharmacist.  Donna-the-person was a warm, caring, kind and gentle mother, wife, and friend.  Anyone who knew Donna knew all about her sons whom she loved and cared for dearly.  She was always happiest when sharing their accomplishments, whether it be for football or academics; she was their #1 cheerleader.

Donna you will be missed by so many.

For those who knew Donna and wish to pay their respects, further information can be found in her obituary: