Message From the Chair
Message from the Chair
(If you're reading this, it means that APHA staff accepted my submission after the June 8 deadline. THANK YOU, APHA!!!)
Last night we returned home to Florida from our previous home in West Virginia. This morning I'm trying to get to Los Angeles, the home I left decades ago, for a high school reunion. [A story for another time - the reunion of friends-of-long-duration who have not been together in decades. An opportunity to rekindle relationships. An opportunity to mourn the passing of others.]
As I write this, I am stuck in Charlotte, N.C. This seemed as good a time as any, and perhaps better than most, to write the Chair's Letter. This morning, I have absolutely zero control over when we take off or how soon I arrive in L.A. But I do have control over how I use this time, stewing about it or getting something done. Thus, it seems appropriate that the theme for this quarterly letter is patience or, perhaps "Lord grant me the serenity to ... and recognize the difference."
This same message of patience and/or serenity and constructive action applies to health reform. The Obama administration says it wants: a health reform plan by October, a plan that includes a private and government option and which has bipartisan support. The way things have been going since President Obama took office, the likelihood of the last consideration is in serious doubt, particularly given the time.
Just as the Administration hopes for a bipartisan plan from Congress, it has also tried to form a health reform coalition that includes the insurance industry, the hospitals and the doctors. These stakeholders stood behind the president as he reported their agreement to help decrease the costs of health care. Within days and even hours, many of those on the dais were backtracking, denying they had made concessions. In a similar vein, the New York Times recently (June 3, 2009) had an article on how the major insurance carriers are unwilling to extend the same largesse to the small business market they've said they will give to the individual market. No surprise – there’s more money to be had in small businesses. So if everyone is included in a health reform plan, then why is there concern about specific markets? I know many of you understand the insurance market far better than I (that's a given), and some of you may have a less jaundiced eye when it comes to their activities, so if I've got things terribly wrong, please let me know. We'll get some kind of chat going to capture the dialogue.
Each of us must become more informed about what is being discussed and who is involved in the discussions. This is not 1993 -- this is 2009. A new chance, a new opportunity to finally achieve universal coverage, even if it is not accomplished in a way many of us would prefer. What is clear is we must not waste this opportunity. In this case, patience does not mean waiting to see what happens. We must actively engage.
Medical Care is an activist section, even though I don't know that all of our members are activists. Now is the time. If you haven't yet met your member of Congress, do so now, whether or not that individual is from the same party or shares the same views. Each of us is a health professional, although not necessarily a clinician. Many of us are educators. Good advocacy involves educating. It is easy to preach to the choir; it is much more difficult to reach those who disregard what we have to say because of our position on the political continuum. There are, however, areas on which there may be agreement, areas that allow us all to get under the tent and receive a hearing.
People are losing their jobs and, as a result, many are losing their health insurance. Businesses small and large are going bankrupt or closing their doors in anticipation of financial failure. It is not just the employees who are losing benefits – it is also the managers, the CEOs, and all their dependents. This may be the worst of times for the economy, but it may also be the best of times for change.
Back to the reunion… Our gathering is history. We've made a pact not to attend another. Rather we're starting a new tradition for which we're looking for a name. [Suggestions are welcome.] This year the "other" activities were dubbed the anti-reunion. Twenty or so of us came together at a friend's home and caught up after 30 years. Now that meeting was actually fun. I met people whose names I knew from high school but had never really known. A bittersweet event...
Okay, enough of the context. As we chatted, health care came up -- no surprise, we're older, some of us have developed chronic illnesses, some of us have lost loved ones, all of us are conscious of the costs associated with access to and use of health care and how close each medical catastrophe places as at the brink of insolvency. My friend "of longest duration" is a strong and ardent proponent for single payer reform. She is NOT a health professional, but she is a very intelligent, very engaged, very informed "stay-at-home mom." She was outraged that single payer advocates were excluded from the Baucus discussions, even to the extent of being escorted out of meetings. She made phone calls, wrote letters. Another friend, a physician, was resigned to far lesser health reform but somewhat optimistic that we would achieve something.
I don’t know what goes into creating an activist. From where does active passion come? How can we elicit that spark, engage that inclination to act? In the film Network, a newsman basically lost it on prime time television and announced "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" This is our battle cry for America.
Were it only that simple. As informed citizens, most of us read newspapers, watch the news on television, listen to radio news (progressive news, hopefully). As a result, we're inured to death, mayhem and destruction until it hits us personally -- a loved one is stricken with pancreatic cancer, or rheumatoid arthritis, or emphysema and there is nothing we can do to save their life, relieve their pain, or give them a breath to take. Health reform won't to any of those things, but it at least it will give them a chance at receiving necessary and appropriate health care without the worries of financial devastation.
Now is a time of opportunity. We may not find a perfect solution, but we will have zero chance at achieving that unless we can move our families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues to understand that national health reform is bigger than a single individual, that health must be a “right" for all and not a privilege for some, and to recognize that whether we are a democracy or a republic, our government acts on our behalf. Finally, we must all take action and let our elected officials know that America must join the majority of the world's powers and make health available, accessible, affordable, and acceptable for all.
Paz y salud!
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From Nov. 7-11, 2009 thousands of public health professionals will convene in Philadelphia for the 137th APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition. More than 1,000 cutting-edge scientific sessions will be presented by public health researchers, academicians, policy-makers and practitioners on the most current public health issues facing the nation today. To ensure that no public health professional misses this opportunity, this year’s Annual Meeting will be more affordable than ever. Hotel rates have been slashed so that no rates are higher than $195. Eleven of the 15 contracted hotels are offering rates between $149 and $179. Registration and Housing are now open. Save up to $115 on registration by registering before August 28. Take advantage of these discounts and join your colleagues in a meeting you won’t want to miss. For more information about the Annual Meeting and the role our Section will make play in its success, visit www.apha.org/meetings!
Follow us on Twitter: APHAAnnualMtg
The theme is Water and Public Health, so bring your bathing suit and water bottle.
The Medical Care Section will have its meetings in the LOEW’S PHILADELPHIA hotel.
Medical Care Programming: Our Program Planning Chair José Josué Hernández reports competition was stiff for presentations: a total of 236 contributed abstracts were reviewed (224 contributed, including 25 student abstracts, and 12 invited/solicited sessions). We have a total of 53 Medical Sessions:
--Sixteen business and committee meeting sessions.
--Five standing sessions.
--Eighteen oral contributed sessions (five speakers per session).
--Five invited/solicited sessions.
--Nine poster sessions (10 posters per session).
THANK YOU, José! You rock! And thank you reviewers – you also rock!
See the complete Medical Care Section Program HERE è http://apha.confex.com/apha/137am/webprogram/MC.html
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Medical Care Miscellany
Medical Care Miscellany
Newsletter: We have a new Newsletter Editor – yours truly – so please send all items to: Linda Simoni-Wastila (firstname.lastname@example.org). PLEASE put MC NEWSLETTER in the header. I don’t know about you, but I get so much e-mail I get lost.
Please send professional accolades, personal milestones, and anything that brings a smile my way. I’ll make it happen.
APHA Program Planning Chair José Josué Hernández has a new e-mail address effective June 1, 2009. Please contact him here: email@example.com).
I leave you with a poem in keeping with our theme. Remember the patients, the families, all the citizens who would benefit not only from a universal health care program but one that embraces the public’s health and focuses on prevention, truly the most cost-effective remedy…
By Robinson Jeffers
The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of surburban houses-
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads-
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.-As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confidentAs the rock and ocean that we were made from
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Announcements from HQ
(Apologies in advance for hyperlinks - still fussing with the 'software' and time is of the essence...)
Public Health CareerMart -- Over 1,000 Jobs Listed! APHA has created Public Health CareerMart to be the online career resource center in the field of public health. Here, you’ll find only qualified, industry professionals.
Job seekers, instead of searching through hundreds of sites looking for the perfect jobs in public health, you will find it all at the Public Health CareerMart Career Development Center at http://www.apha.org/about/careers
Employers, instead of being inundated with stacks of unrelated, irrelevant resumes, you’re much more likely to find the candidates with the skills and experience you’re looking for — and spend less time doing it! After all, where better to find the best public health professionals than the association that represents them?
Help Make America the Healthiest Nation in One Generation. Let’s face it – as a nation we’re not nearly as healthy as we should be. Compared to other developed nations, we’re lagging far behind. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With your help, we can make America the healthiest nation in just one generation.
As a central component of this year’s National Public Health Week (NPHW) observance, APHA launched an exciting, new viral video campaign. The Healthiest Nation in One Generation video tells the story of the many ways that public health touches our lives. Nearly 25,000 people have already viewed the video online, and the numbers continue to grow each day. If you haven’t checked out the video, watch it today and be sure to share it with your colleagues, family and friends. And stay informed by visiting www.generationpublichealth.org – NPHW 2009 is over, but our campaign to make America the healthiest nation in one generation is just beginning…
We all have to do our part. What will you do?
CDC Communicable Disease Manual. APHA wants to know your opinion on whether you would use an online version of the "Control of Communicable Diseases Manual." Help us by taking a survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=53858582nfNS699PLteHvg_3d_3d. We appreciate your input.
Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Manual. APHA is proud to announce the release of "Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention: A Guide for Public Health Practitioners." This manual provides public health professionals with information, skills and tools needed to conduct screening and brief intervention (SBI) to help at-risk drinkers reduce their alcohol use. Download the manual for free: www.apha.org/programs/additional/progaddNHTSI.htm.
New Book on Disability Studies. "Disabilty and Public Health," published by APHA, is now available. The publication is an important and overdue contribution to the core curriculum of disability studies in public health education. It is a particularly timely book because, as our nation ages, disability is an increasingly significant interdisciplinary area of study and service domain in public health. Visit the APHA online bookstore at http://www.aphabookstore.org/. APHA members can also take advantage of a 30 percent member discount whether ordering online or via our toll-free number, (888) 320-2742.
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