Members from as far away as Florida, New Hampshire, Arkansas, and California traveled to Washington, D.C. in January for the Mid-Year Meeting of the Section. (Ben Neufeld came the farthest.) It was pure coincidence the meeting started three days after the election debacle in Massachusetts. The pall over D.C. was nearly palpable; it felt like the kind of paralysis that comes only when reality defies expectation. Yet, the meeting offered an opportunity to help APHA leaders think about next steps that could get health care reform back into its groove. Georges Benjamin spent 90 minutes with the Section to brainstorm about logistics and strategies to bring attention to health care reform. One interesting idea was a daily “body count” of people who lose their lives for want of medical care that would continue until legislation passed. While this would be complex to carry out, APHA members would be urged to participate in a massive effort to get Congress off the dime and overcome the paralysis keeping complete health reform gridlocked.
Allotment of Meeting Sessions
Program Chair Jose Hernandez opened a discussion of program planning. Members would like sections to be apportioned at the Annual Meeting based on quality ratings from peer review by Section members. For several years, Committees have been given an allotment of sessions based on their portion from past years. This deprived newer committees of slots. Discussion produced a new understanding: going forward, every committee will be allotted a minimum of one session, with most of the rest allocated based on quality scores. Attention will be paid also to session attendance. Decisions about allocations will be made in a conference call after abstract reviews are completed. Section Chair-Elect Kathy Virgo, Chair Mona Sarfaty, and Past Chair Gail Bellamy will join the Program Chair for a teleconference.
Updates on Veterans Health and Medicare from members Linda Tsan, Amy Wallace, and Sid Socolar were offered during lunch. Past President Gail Bellamy received an award for her service to the Section. Advocacy Chair Ellen Shaffer requested that APHA support placement of public health experts on U.S. trade advisory committees to guide the Department of Commerce in trade negotiations that have implications for health.
Membership Chair Sonny Patel led the membership discussion. The group agreed on three strategies: 1) The student award session will be scheduled before the “Evening With” event to make it easier to bring student into close contact with members. We will hold a reception in between the student award session and “Evening With” so there will be a confluence of groups at the social event. 2) In addition, session presiders will get Medical Care brochures to distribute at every session at which they preside. They will be asked to announce that the session is sponsored by Medical Care, invite the audience to “Evening With,” distribute the brochures, and urge the audience to join Medical Care as a primary or secondary section. 3) Finally, a student mentoring session will be held on Sunday with Medical Care members. This event will be listed in the Student Program Supplement published every year by the Student Assembly. A group of possible “mentors” will be identified.
Since communication contributes to improved membership and satisfaction, APHA continues to develop networking tools including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Sections need a Web editor if they want to have a Web page. APHA staff members Barbara Reck and Fran Atkinson reviewed current plans to adapt membership categories. The “agency membership” is being revamped so that more agencies and organizations might join. The “transitional membership” category will probably be converted to an “emerging professionals” category to meet the needs of new graduates. Membership has declined across the board during the economic downturn but not dramatically and has, hopefully, leveled off. A membership toolbox will be available soon with templates for membership letters, section planning tools, and material for committees.
Nominees, Offices, Awards
Nominees for Section —a nd APHA — office, and nominations for APHA Awards, were also discussed at the meeting. John Wayne, Ollie Fein, Arlene Ash, Renee Carter, and others suggested possible candidates and awardees. (Arlene Ash had just received her own lifetime achievement award from the public health section of the American Statistical Association.)
Irene Prabhu Das joined us as an emissary from the Cancer Forum with the objective of reaching out to Medical Care Section members. There are quite a few Section members who are involved in cancer research. Member Renee Royak-Shaler will join a conference call to consider joint sessions at the Annual Meeting. One suggestion received with enthusiasm was a session on the new breast cancer screening guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. A variety of points of view should be the basis of a lively session. The Cancer Forum is also seeking ways to focus on involving grassroots advocates and organizations.
Medical Care Journal
Editors Jerome Allison and Catarina Kiefe are now located at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester with Arlene Ash (see separate item). They have added a deputy-editor whose focus is on informatics tools; and they are currently considering a new monthly peer reviewed feature that would focus on analytic issues and tools. The Journal gets 800 submissions per year and publishes less than 20 percent. A large part of their circulation goes to institutions electronically.
Policy Submissions Process
New policy submissions were due on Feb. 17. Policy resolutions should be consistent with the strategic plan of APHA which focuses on access, disparities, and public health infrastructure. The previously submitted policy on primary care and the medical home model will be resubmitted by a group of sections, including community health planning and policy development, vision care, oral health, and public health nursing. Wayne Meyer and others are deciding whether to revise and resubmit a resolution on the health of veterans in rural areas developed last year. Other suggestions were an update on a 2001 statement on global trade agreements and a new policy regarding disparities and the public health work force. The latter might involve collaboration with other organizations like the Association for Prevention Teachers and Researchers, the Council on Education in Public Health, the Association of Schools of Public Health, and the Council of Accredited Graduate Public Health Programs.
Other Issues: Policy Process and Action Board
Associate APHA Director for Policy Susan Polan was joined by Donald Hoppert to provide information and answer questions. A new APHA committee instated by the Governing Council will review the current policy process; a first meeting is scheduled for the first week in February. The group consists of 12-14 members and includes the immediate past chair of the Medical Care Section. Action Board member Simon Piller reported on this APHA Board. The Board will be reviewing new policies in March and subsequently old policies for archiving. He urges MC Section members to participate in the archiving and current review processes to influence it in directions we support. Reviewing is a great experience for student members who could be paired with established members to work together as a dyad. Policies up for review include those on Medicare, vision care, and policies prior to the 1950s
Submitted by Secretary Renee Carter and Chair Mona Sarfaty