Fifty years ago, Dr. Jim Blackburn at the University of Saskatchewan had a vision for a pharmacist helpline that both healthcare professionals and the general public could access when searching for medication-related information.

Half a century later, medSask is still answering the calls and emails of over 8,000 Saskatchewan residents per year. A team of 16 pharmacists are available to answer phone calls and emails from 9:00 a.m. until midnight, 365 days a year.

Kelly Kizlyk, a medSask pharmacist, says the service is available from 9:00 a.m. until midnight, 365 days a year.

“Some of those staff are full-time office staff, and then some of those staff are on-callers. A variety of backgrounds; we’ve got pharmacists from community. We’ve got pharmacists that have hospital backgrounds.”

She adds that, especially with some of the changes to healthcare and the healthcare system, people have a lot of questions.

“They’re looking for information, and sometimes information isn’t as easy to find anymore. I can’t think of a lot of opportunities where you have an expert at your access. You can call us, and we’re there. It’s expert advice at your fingertips.”

She says a positive change she has noticed during her time at medSask is the amount of information that callers are searching for.

“People want to know about their health. They want to know about their medications, and that is what medsask is poised to answer. It’s just not ‘here’s your pills, take them, and we’re talk again in a couple of months’ time.’ People want to know more about their medications.”

To celebrate 50 years of the service’s success, provincial Health Minister Everett Hindley has announced an investment of nearly $993,000.

“Whether it’s questions surrounding whether a certain medication might be safe for your children, and what dosage might be safe, the people on the other end of the phone at the medSask phoneline are there to answer those questions.”

The investment includes about $688,000 in base funding, an increase of almost $288,000 over last year, and an additional $305,000 this fiscal year to support expanded training and resources for pharmacists.

For more information:   1-800-665-3784 (Saskatchewan)    306-966-6378 (Saskatoon)