A message from our President…
“It felt odd and poetic and encouraging coming back after so many years, a shape imposing itself on life again after chaos.” ― Graham Greene
|Sometimes there is a quotation that seems to sum up an event or an experience perfectly, and I feel that these words of author Graham Greene do that for me when I reflect upon the recently concluded Anesthesiology 2021 conference in San Diego. There was a palpable sense of anticipation and anxiety in the air as the sessions opened last week, but as soon as the first meetings began and the attendees settled into the familiar routines of a large-scale professional society gathering, a collective relief appeared to embrace the event and its participants. People seemed genuinely glad to be in one another’s company after the long absence, and the exhibit halls took on the excited buzz of activity and personal interaction. The final tallies showed that nearly 7,500 people attended the in-person sessions, and the one common theme I heard time and again was how thrilled people were to be back.|
The business of the ASA’s House of Delegates was similarly well attended. There were more than 350 delegates seated for both assemblies of the governing body and even with a strict no-coffee rule and a mask mandate, the work of the representatives was efficiently dispatched. It was an honor for the 27-member NYSSA delegation to represent your interests and to ensure that our voices were counted among those defending and advancing our specialty. There was also a lively president’s reception (paid for by individual ticket purchases) and a very gracious cocktail party hosted by our friends in the California Society of Anesthesiologists. These events gave our delegation the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new connections, strengthening the profile and visibility of the NYSSA.
The annual meeting of the ASA also provides the opportunity for the NYSSA Board of Directors to have an in-person meeting, a true pleasure as we emerge from the COVID pandemic. The reports of the various committees were heard and many of the legislative and advocacy issues facing our society and its members were discussed in detail. As your president, I gave an update on a telephone meeting I recently participated in (along with Bob Reid, our lobbyist, and Chuck Assini, our legislative counsel) with members of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s staff regarding the recent Executive Order #4. This order, implemented for 30 days beginning September 27, authorized the independent practice of CRNAs in general hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers in New York. Gov. Hochul’s staff members heard our strong objections to this provision and the argument that, even in the face of COVID vaccine mandates, there were no significant reductions in operating room services or in the availability of physician anesthesiologists across our state. We will continue to monitor this development closely and will work tirelessly to protect the safety of every one of the patients entrusted to our care.
There were two other important matters that came into focus during the Board of Directors meeting. The first has to do with our yearly meeting, the PGA. After being positively encouraged by both the attendance and the atmosphere surrounding the Anesthesiology 2021 conference in San Diego, and recognizing the logistical challenges of making a late pivot to another all-virtual PGA, the board voted unanimously to proceed with an in-person PostGraduate Assembly this December. We all hope that everyone will see this event for the important message that it sends about our mission and perseverance in the face of adversity. We will be celebrating our 75th PGA, and it is essential that we demonstrate to the world that we are leaders when it comes to returning to normal in the same manner we led the fight against the coronavirus during the darkest days of the pandemic. Please plan on joining us in New York City and sharing the excitement that comes from connecting with and learning from one another.
The other significant matter relates to the financial contributions NYSSA members make to our specialty’s indispensable political action committees: ASAPAC and NYAPAC. Data was presented at the ASA House of Delegates meeting that showed the 2021 participation of New York’s anesthesiologists at 7%. While I know that there are many potential reasons for this given the recent crisis, this is still a very disheartening number. I am also sure that this number would improve if physicians clearly understood the value and importance of PAC contributions when fighting legislative or regulatory mandates that negatively impact our profession. The most recent issue regarding surprise medical billing and the effect it will have not just on anesthesiology but the entire house of medicine is but a single example of where your PAC dollars are put to very effective use. Make no mistake that, whether opposing the tremendous power of insurance companies or the aggressive efforts of governmental agencies, it is only through the collective force and clout of a well-funded PAC that your voice has a chance to be heard. There is no time like the present to contribute and it will be terribly regretful if we, as a specialty or individuals, didn’t do everything possible to speak up for our interests before it is too late.
As I write these words, I am currently at 35,000 feet over the middle of our nation, and I am grateful for having been given the opportunity to serve you, my fellow NYSSA members, at our national meeting. We have so much to be proud of as a society and so much to look forward to, no matter the challenges or storms ahead. I thank you all for your efforts on behalf of our patients and anticipate seeing many of you at the PGA very soon.
Christopher Campese, M.D., M.A., M.S., FASA, CHCQM
What is the NYSSA?
The New York State Society of Anesthesiologists (NYSSA), is a community of approximately 3,600+ New York anesthesiologists. NYSSA actively advocates on behalf of both patients and physicians in formulating standards and guidelines, to advance the practice of anesthesiology. Together, NYSSA members provide a powerful and effective voice for our specialty in New York State.