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After two long years of the pandemic, 2022 was the year we expected everything would return to normal. Vaccines were readily available to all who wanted them, treatments were in place for people who did get the virus, and respiratory therapists and their colleagues had better strategies to treat even the most severe cases.
Everyone looked forward to the return of pre-pandemic activities, and for the most part, life did slowly but surely normalize. The AARC was prepared to meet it head on, hosting an in-person Summer Forum in Palm Springs, CA, in July and AARC International Respiratory Congress in New Orleans, LA, in November.
With fewer COVID-19 worries to deal with, Association leaders also rolled up their sleeves and got to work on a range of projects and programs aimed at providing the profession with the support it would need not just to recover from the pandemic, but to move forward into the rest of the 21st Century confident that the building blocks were in place to ensure a bright future.
“COVID-19 may have challenged respiratory therapists to their core, but they emerged stronger for it, and so did the AARC,” said 2021-2022 AARC President Sheri Tooley, BSRT, RRT, RRT-NPS, CPFT, AE-C, FAARC, “Our mission to support our members never wavered, and we continued to make strides in areas ranging from leadership to education to clinical care.”
It was all fitting, as last year also marked the AARC’s 75th Anniversary, a major milestone that was celebrated throughout the year.
This annual report reflects our 2022 accomplishments.
Executive Office gets new leadership
2022 was a big year for the AARC Executive Office in terms of staff changes.
Daniel Garrett, CAE, came on board as the new executive director in April, bringing with him a wealth of experience in the Association leadership space. Most recently, he served as executive director of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS), where he was credited with leading his team to exceed both meeting attendance and revenue goals for the organization’s winter symposium.
He was also instrumental in helping the ASTS establish Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training and development for volunteer leadership and staff – a major goal at the AARC as well. “DEI is now firmly a required component of leadership and organizations must embrace and usher in new ways of leading and creating strong and diverse cultures,” said Garrett at the time. “I look forward to helping lead AARC’s DEI initiatives.”
Read more about Dan Garrett here.
Ellen Worsham took over as vice president of marketing and communications in March, Monique (Talbot) Kimmel, CAE, joined the team as vice president of membership and customer service, and Mandy De Vries, MS-RCL/Ed, RRT, RRT-NPS, came on board as director of education in August.
Worsham, who has nearly 30 years of experience in her field, previously worked as director of health care marketing and innovation for emergency cardiovascular care programs at the American Heart Association. Kimmel joined the AARC with more than 30 years of association experience, previously working for the American College of Radiology. De Vries came to the Association from the Medical University of South Carolina, where she worked in patient care and also participated in the development of a respiratory care curriculum for a new hospital-based RT program.
The final major staff change of 2022 came when long-time Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Anne Marie Hummel retired in June. Hummel had worked in government affairs at the AARC since 2008, helping the Association advocate for legislation important to respiratory therapists and the patients they serve.
Miriam O’Day, who has a long track record of service to the respiratory care community through her role as president and CEO of the Alpha-1 Foundation, took over the position shortly after Hummel’s retirement.
In addition to her service to the Alpha-1 Foundation, O’Day played an instrumental role in the formation of the COPD Congressional Caucus and collaborated with the National Institutes of Health to rebrand emphysema as COPD. She worked with the CDC on national data collection for chronic respiratory diseases as well.
Read more about O’Day here.
New Strategic Plan sets the stage
Top of mind for AARC leaders as the COVID-19 crisis began to subside was to develop a new Strategic Plan for the Association that would take the organization into a post-COVID world.
Members of the AARC Board of Directors met with staff members in the Executive Office and outside stakeholders in May to get the process started.
“All new planning and development will be rooted in our effort to elevate the RT profession,” said Dan Garrett, in an announcement about the plan. “We will support therapists, educate our communities, advocate, and establish the recognized standard for professional excellence in the practice of respiratory therapy.”
Sheri Tooley explained some of the key objectives. “To best move the Association and profession forward, we need a stronger foothold in the health care community overall. We believe by strengthening the bonds with our partner organizations, we will increase RT standards, expectations, and career opportunities,” she said.
Recognition of respiratory therapists across all care settings was an integral goal, as was ensuring greater diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the Association and profession as a whole.
The new Strategic Plan, which was formally released in August, was built on these four pillars —
- Engage: We will build and strengthen a diverse and inclusive professional community.
- Elevate: We will advance the recognition and the role of respiratory therapists.
- Advocate: We will champion policies and initiatives that enhance access to respiratory care.
- Educate: We will deliver premier evidence-based learning opportunities and promote the art and science of respiratory care.
“This new plan brings great hope and excitement to the Association,” said Tooley in August. “Together, we will build and grow the profession.”
2021-2022 President-Elect Carl Hinkson, MSc, RRT, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, FAARC, agreed. “Great things will come from this plan. We have a strong foundation in place, and I look forward to seeing how the AARC and the profession grow in these next few years.”
Read more about the new Strategic Plan here.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Diversity, Equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles were a key part of the new Strategic Plan, and the AARC also took major steps to make sure these principles are integrated into every part of the Association’s operations as well.
So far in 2023, the Executive Office staff members came together with AARC leaders during the Spring 2023 BOD meeting to dive deeper into the area, with the goal being to better understand personal biases and how to overcome them.
The session was led by an organizational consultant with expertise in assisting groups such as the AARC in improving their understanding of DEI principles and how to put them to work for the good of their organizations.
A survey of the membership was planned to gather their thoughts on DEI, and staff and voluntary leaders alike came away with a renewed determination to making the AARC a welcoming support system for RTs from all walks of life.
Read more about the AARC’s DEI efforts here.
Educational tools added to the lineup
Keeping respiratory therapists current on the latest in technology and clinical care is a key mission of the AARC, and the Association accomplishes that goal through sessions presented at the Summer Forum and AARC Congress, a robust webcast program that delivers free CRCEs to members on a monthly basis, and an array of specialty programs covering everything from asthma, to COPD, to pulmonary rehabilitation, to home oxygen, and more.
Every year the AARC adds something to new the lineup, and 2022 was no exception.
An updated Pulmonary Rehabilitation Reimbursement Toolkit developed by the AARC in partnership with the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, American Thoracic Society, and American College of Chest Physicians, came out in August.
The toolkit provides hospital-based providers with the knowledge and resources they need to take advantage of Medicare’s comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation benefit and new CPT codes for pulmonary rehabilitation that became effective January 1, 2022.
A new guide called “COVID-19: Lessons Learned” debuted in September to give RTs a big picture view of the pandemic. Sponsored by an unrestricted education grant from Aerogen, the guide and course provide a comprehensive look at the literature on the virus and evidence-based practices related to the care of people who contract it.
Noninvasive respiratory support, invasive ventilation, prone positioning, aerosol-generating procedures, shared ventilation, issues related to oxygen therapy, silent hypoxemia, ventilator shortages, and long COVID are all covered. The course was approved for four CRCE credits.
The Association regularly develops Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) to provide therapists with recommendations on evidence-based care as well. CPG teams were hard at work updating current guidelines, retiring those no longer pertinent to practice, and even translating two existing CPGs into Italian.
In September, a team gathered at the AARC Executive Office to begin work on a new CPG aimed at examining the transition from hospital to home for patients on oxygen therapy. Two oxygen therapy patients joined in virtually to provide team members with their real life experiences with home oxygen.
2022 also saw work begin on a CPG on spontaneous breathing trials and another that will produce a Good Practice Statement dealing with patient-ventilator assessment.
AARC Explores debuted in 2022 as well. A rebrand of the long-running Current Topics program, Explores consists of a ten-video series that hospitals and other facilities can use to provide CRCEs to their staffs.
Discover all the AARC’s continuing education offerings here.
A strong voice get stronger
Making sure RTs have a strong voice in the halls of government and federal regulatory agencies is important to the AARC, and our annual Capitol Hill Lobby Day connects AARC Political Advocacy Contact Team (PACT) members with their members of Congress to advocate for legislation vital to the profession and its patients.
In a virtual lobbying effort last year, PACT members focused on improving access to pulmonary rehabilitation services and the expertise of RTs. They also asked their Senators and Representatives to make permanent the temporary waivers that allowed virtual cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services during the pandemic.
As always, AARC members across the country got into the act as well by participating in the email campaign that took place in the run up to the May 25 Lobby Day.
The Association was pleased to announce in January of last year that RT concerns regarding the American Heart Association’s “Interim Guideline on Basic and Advanced Life Support in Adults, Children, and Neonates with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19” were addressed in the final version of the document published by CIRCULATION.
The AARC played an integral role in the development of the “Pillars of Oxygen Reform” document as well. The initiative was spearheaded by the American Thoracic Society’s Oxygen Workgroup, of which the AARC is a key member.
The Pillars, which were released in August, address how Congressional leaders could reform oxygen billing and reimbursement to enhance patient access. Multiple organizations signed on to the document asking for Congressional action to ensure oxygen is matched to patients in a medically appropriate way.
The AARC Advocacy and Government Affairs staff also published an updated version of the AARC coding guidelines for respiratory and pulmonary services and procedures in 2022, and the Association debuted a new look for the Advocacy pages on the AARC website.
The revamped site includes a new Collaboration webpage that highlights all the ways the AARC works with outside groups and organizations to support legislation and regulatory initiatives that can benefit both providers and patients.
Check out the updated AARC Advocacy pages — including the new AARC Collaboration on Federal Policies page — here.
New Career Center is one stop shop for jobs
A new Career Center debuted in 2022 too. Powered by YM Careers, the updated site has a wealth of resources for job seekers and facilities seeking RTs alike.
Job seekers can create an account and set it up to automatically receive alerts about new jobs that match their criteria for a new position. People looking for a new position can also search and apply for jobs right on the site, and they can safely and securely upload their resumes so that employers can contact them — all while maintaining anonymity if they so desire.
A free “resume review” feature can help people ensure their resume is the best it can be as well, and the site even offers career coaches who can help job seekers achieve their professional goals. A link to all the AARC’s Career Advice is also on the site, along with links to membership information and AARC events.
Employers have new and improved ways of finding the people they need too, with the opportunity to post jobs and present banner advertising, email jobs directly to job seekers with a Job Flash email, and search the resume bank using robust filters designed to help them match resumes to the job description.
Visit the new Career Center here.
Another successful year
These major achievements of 2022 reflect only a small part of what the AARC does for its members on a daily basis. Here are just a few of the other ways we worked for our members in 2022 —
- The AARC Disaster Relief Fund continues to provide financial support to members affected by weather-related events throughout the country. Funds are received from generous donors in the respiratory care community, it awards grants of up to $1,000 to members living in disaster-declared areas who suffer from property losses due to these events.
- We published hundreds of articles in our Newsroom area on AARC.org covering topics our members need and want to know more about.
- We sent out weekly emails to provide members with a quick and easy way to keep up with the latest Association activities.
- The Board of Directors, House of Delegates, and our AARC committees worked tirelessly to address issues of concern to the membership and develop new programs and projects that will serve us well in the future.
- And the Executive Office staff stood ready to turn those projects and programs into reality while at the same time fielding hundreds if not thousands of requests from AARC members dealing with issues big and small.
It all added up to another successful year of supporting respiratory therapists and the patients they serve.
2022 AARC Annual Financial Report
In April 2023, the AARC engaged the public accounting firm of Howard, LLP to conduct an audit of its financial operations. They issued an unqualified opinion stating that the AARC’s financial statements were presented fairly and conform to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
In 2022, AARC had total revenue of $8,217,238, total expenses of $10,363,586, an unrealized investment loss of ($4,968,464), and net assets of $26,896,195.
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