Sunday Congress Gazette
The Association's 2008 officers, directors, and House of Delegates officers were installed this morning during the AARC Annual Business Meeting, and reports were presented by the Association president, treasurer, and executive director, plus the ARCF, House of Delegates, and Board of Medical Advisors. (Scroll down to read the president’s and treasurer’s reports.)
The meeting also featured the president's address by Toni Rodriguez, EdD, RRT, and installation of elected officials: Timothy R. Myers, BS, RRT-NPS, 2009-2010 president-elect; and Denise Johnson, BS, RRT; Patricia Ann Doorley, MS, RRT, FAARC; and James Wm. Taylor, MA, RRT, directors-at-large.
The chairs-elect of the following specialty sections also took office: Michael J. Hewitt, RRT-NPS, FAARC, Adult Acute Care; Melynn K. Wakeman, BS, RRT, RPFT, RPSGT, Diagnostics; and Lynda T. Goodfellow, EdD, RRT, AE-C, FAARC, Education.
Other AARC awards were also given that day including Delegate of the Year to Roy Wagner, RRT and the Summit Award for outstanding state society to North Carolina. John Blewett received the Outstanding Affiliate Contributor award.
COPD Foundation President John W. Walsh thanked respiratory therapists for the work they do for patients during his keynote address yesterday morning.
“As an individual with Alpha-1 related COPD, it’s especially meaningful to me to be able to present the patient perspective and share some thoughts about your profession and the tremendous opportunities we all have to work together in partnership, moving forward,” Walsh said.
He credited respiratory therapists with improving the lives of millions of patients like him who have lung and airway problems, sleep disorders, and end-stage disease by keeping them breathing, helping them learn to cope, and optimizing their functional activities every day. “We’re truly blessed that you are ours.”
Patients think of respiratory therapists as many things, said Walsh, including health care professionals, advocates, educators, coaches, and partners. “We appreciate that… you spend more time with us than any primary care practitioner, any pulmonary specialist, any other allied health professional. ‘You’re heroes.’”
The “peoples’ choice” award—the Zenith Award—which recognizes the manufacturers, service organizations, and supply companies for their quality, accessibility, responsiveness, service, truth in advertising, and support of the profession went to five companies this year: Cardinal Health, Covidien, INO Therapeutics, Monaghan Medical, and Respironics. The awards were presented during the awards ceremony that opened the Congress yesterday morning.
Steve Sittig, RRT-NPS
The potential for a pandemic influenza is now front page news, as is the need for extensive planning by everyone from the community hospitals to the federal government. Almost every respiratory therapist has heard of H5N1, better known as bird flu. Lewis Rubinson, MD, PhD, presented an outstanding lecture on this topic to a standing-room-only audience.
As we all know, this topic is vast, and covering it in 45 minutes would be a challenge, but Dr. Rubinson did an excellent job, addressing issues that included the constant mutation of the influenza virus, which makes preparing the proper vaccines difficult. Since most vaccines are manufactured utilizing eggs, he pointed out that if the virus kills birds, another vehicle needs to be developed to quickly manufacture a vaccine.
Speaking to respiratory therapists, Dr. Rubinson covered important points, especially the need for education in personal protection equipment to calm any fears hospital employees may have when facing a pandemic situation. As this topic continues to develop, planning will continue and our profession will be in the forefront.
Respiratory therapists will be performing spirometry and other tests tomorrow afternoon from 1–5 at the Marks Street Senior Recreation Complex in downtown Orlando as a part of the 2007 YourLungHealth.org Program.
This great public service program has become a new tradition at the Congress, giving us a chance to get out into the community during our meeting week to promote early testing for COPD and let everyone know that respiratory therapists are in town.
“The lack of COPD awareness is troubling,” says AARC member Melaine Giordano MSc, RN, CPFT, who helped organize this year’s event. “Public outreach programs, such as the Mobile Spirometry Unit and the Your Lung Health program, are excellent ways the respiratory care community can help to identify folks at risk for COPD and channel those with abnormal spirometries to seek appropriate medical follow-up and care.”
The AARC’s science journal, Respiratory Care, is marking a major milestone this month, as long-time Editor-in-Chief Dr. David Pierson, hands over the reins to incoming Editor-in-Chief Dean Hess.
Dr. Pierson, who will remain fully engaged with Respiratory Care as an editor emeritus, is widely recognized for facilitating the journal’s inclusion into Index Medicus and serving as an international ambassador for the publication. During his 10-year tenure, both the quantity and quality of scientific papers submitted to, and published in, the Journal have skyrocketed, making Respiratory Care the premier science journal in our profession.
“Dr. Pierson will continue to work closely with Dean Hess to ensure a smooth transition and will remain an integral member of the editorial board,” says Managing Editor Ray Masferrer. “As we welcome Dean to the position of editor-in-chief, we look forward to continued advice and counsel from Dr. Pierson for many years to come.”
Joan Kohorst, MA, RRT
Tim Buckley, RRT, the national director of respiratory services for Walgreens OptionCare Home Care, has been a respiratory therapist for over 30 years. He currently serves on the board of directors for the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest and is a member of the Steering Committee of the Homecare Network at the American College of Chest Physicians. Tim, who has been very active in the AARC Home Care Specialty Section, spoke yesterday at the Congress. His topic, Impact of Competitive Bidding on Long Term Oxygen Therapy (LTOT), was of significant interest to the participants attending his lecture.
Tim stated that competitive bidding, which is required by the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) signed into law in 2005, has two main goals: to reduce the number of providers and to decrease the cost of providing home medical equipment for Medicare beneficiaries.
The bids from providers in the first ten Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) are being processed now and the winning bidders will be announced in late December. Bids from providers in the next 70 MSAs will be accepted in 2008 and from all other areas in the country by 2009.
Tim discussed the potential impact on LTOT, stating that some oxygen delivery devices may be less available: some patients in outlying geographical areas may experience service delays; physicians, referrals, and patients may not receive needed information about the changes required by the competitive bidding process; and there may be less incentive for manufacturers to research and develop new oxygen technology.
Tim concluded his talk by stating that the competitive bidding process will indeed meet the goals of the MMA to reduce the number of providers and to decrease the cost of providing HME to Medicare beneficiaries.
RT managers in hospitals, home care companies, and other facilities need to be watching for an important survey coming their way the week of Jan. 13.
The AARC’s disaster preparedness workgroup will specifically be asking managers to report the number of ventilators they have in their facilities. The intent is to define the current capacity and capability of hospitals and other organizations to provide ventilator care during a large-scale emergency event like a pandemic flu.
“We want to assure that there will be an adequate number of ventilators, and to determine where they are and what they are,” says AARC COO Thomas Kallstrom, BS, RRT, AE-C, FAARC. “The workgroup’s aim is to clarify this number, as close as possible, and use the data collected as the starting point to determine the needs of local, state, and federal response efforts and plans.”
Presenters at the AARC Congress include the leading names in respiratory care and pulmonary medicine. But this year the Program Committee is holding open auditions for new speakers for next year’s meeting in Anaheim as well. The goal: open up the lectures to up-and-coming researchers and speakers who can add new insights to this premiere meeting of the year in the respiratory care profession.
Charles McArthur, RRT
Gregg Ruppel, Med, RRT, RPFT, FAARC, opened the symposium by reminding the audience of our obligation to our patients to provide quality results in lung function testing. Gregg discussed the current ATS/ERS standards for quality control of spirometry and lung volume measurements. He stated that currently, lung function testing is virtually unregulated, and adequate quality control measures are dependent on labs voluntarily following standards.
Susan Blonshine, RRT, RPFT, FAARC, presented the next lecture on diffusing capacity quality control methods. Susan discussed recent studies from around the world that suggest there is a large opportunity to improve quality control practices in lung function testing. She also reported that other countries have developed regulation of pulmonary labs and predicted it will happen in the U.S.
Carl Mottram, RRT, RPFT, FAARC, presented quality control of exercise and gas exchange equipment. Carl discussed the importance of a quality system model with a defined path of workflow to assure good test results. He stated that errors may occur at many different steps of the flow pathway and only a good quality control system can detect and prevent errors.
Toni Rodriguez, EdD, RRT
It seems like only yesterday since I gave my acceptance speech at the International Respiratory CongressSM in Nevada. The first year of my presidency has passed quickly, and we have accomplished much as an Association.
The most exciting news of the year is the introduction of H.R. 3968, our milestone legislation developed to improve patient access to RRTs in settings outside of the acute care hospital. Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR), an influential member of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, formally introduced the bill into the House of Representatives in October. I thank all of the people who diligently worked behind the scenes to make this happen. They have done an excellent job in providing us with optimal political positioning.
But now the real work begins: gaining support for our initiative. This key initiative will revise the Medicare law to permit qualified respiratory therapists to provide certain respiratory therapy services, such as smoking cessation, asthma management, and MDI device and medication education, while under the general supervision of a physician (e.g., without the physician having to be physically present or on site). The American Thoracic Society Executive Committee has officially endorsed this AARC Part B billing proposal. With the support of all therapists, we can make this happen.
In addition to the Part B Initiative, we have been successfully fulfilling our mission of promoting professional excellence, advancing the science, and supporting patient advocacy.
Promoting professional excellence
- AARC is celebrating our 60th birthday at the 53rd International Respiratory Congress.
- In early September of this year the AARC received official notification from the U.S. Public Health Service that bachelor-trained registered respiratory therapists (RRTs) are now eligible to become commissioned in the Therapist Category of the U.S. Public Health Service.
- The AARC’s membership continues to climb, reaching 44,800+ members—the highest in the 60-year history of this organization.
- The AARC continues the support of the International Council for Respiratory Care™. We recently met with the European Respiratory Care Association in Stockholm, Sweden, and have been asked to participate in the first “Annual Celebration of Respiratory Therapist Day” in Taipei, Taiwan. The intent of these meetings is to build the respiratory therapist’s international presence and to continue to develop collaborations that are designed to address issues affecting education, medical, and professional trends in the global respiratory care community.
Advancing the science
- The AARC has submitted numerous comments, on behalf of the profession and its patients, to the following public and governmental agencies: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Health Council (NHC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and The Joint Commission.
- Education initiatives continue, such as our Education Device Matching Project to promote patient education in the use of aerosol delivery devices, the Reimbursement College to advance the knowledge of our managers, and the High School Career Project for student recruitment.
- The Mobile Spirometry Unit partnership with the COPD Foundation conducted patient spirometry screenings at more than 20 locations nationwide this year.
- Strategic planning continues for conducting a series of conferences aimed at discerning emerging health care trends impacting the profession and charting appropriate professional initiatives in alignment. The first “RCP 2015 and Beyond” conference will be conducted in March 2008.
The AARC continues to advocate for our patients and our respiratory therapists in Washington, DC:
- H.R. 552 and S. 329—the pulmonary rehabilitation bills
- H.R. 621—restore Medicare home oxygen coverage bills
- H.R. 1108 and S. 625—Family Smoking Protection and Tobacco Control Act, putting an end to unregulated tobacco products
- S. 605—Allied Health Reinvestment Act, to fund allied health education.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the AARC membership for giving me the opportunity to serve as your 2007 president. It has been a pleasure working with the state societies, the AARC Board of Directors, House of Delegates, and especially the AARC’s executive office staff. 2008 has the potential to be a landmark year for our profession. With your help we can accomplish great things for our patients and set the tone for our professional future.
Colleen Schabacker, BA, RRT, FAARC
This year has shown a continued growth in financial performance and membership numbers. All major revenue streams have met or exceeded budget. All major expenses are in line with expectations as well. The stock market continued to do its usual up-and-down twist, but we are fortunate enough to be in a net gain position. We continue to pay off the mortgage on our new building with the anticipation of it being paid in full in the near future.
Our office continues to be multi-tasked and productive. Advertising is strong, and our relationships with our vendor community have never been stronger. Our membership base continues to grow, ensuring a successful year for the AARC. We await final year-end figures, but it appears we will exceed budgeted goals both in operating and investment revenue.
The AARC continues its tradition of having one of the lowest dues for an organization of its class. This is attributed to our ability to generate approximately 80% of total revenue from sources other than dues. Moreover, AARC continues to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to every state society chartered affiliate.
I can’t express in words how gratifying it has been to serve as your secretary/treasurer this year. I would like to thank each and every one of you for going beyond where you thought you could go and for making this year such a huge success.
- Vapotherm is introducing a new device for the delivery of nasal cannula inspired gases at the Congress in Booth 1337. Precision Flow™ (pending FDA 510(k) clearance) is a high flow therapy device to integrate humidification, gas blending, flow control, and full alarm functionality into a single device.
- Sunday Masimo showcased its new system in their Exhibit Hall Booth 1121 from 11 am to 4 pm. The Masimo Patient SafetyNet is a new remote monitoring and clinician notification system.
- Hamilton Medical is featuring their Hamilton-G5 ventilator (which just received FDA 510(k) clearance) in their Booth 621. The ICU ventilator features Ventilation Cockpit™.
“I like to be at this conference to continue my education and to improve my work skills. I like to participle in the Opening Ceremony, the orientation for the first-time attendees, and the Open Forum.