A Message From the AARC President

 Published: May 13, 2021

By: Sheri Tooley, BSRT, RRT-NPS, CPFT, AE-C, FAARC

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I look at May as the month of respiratory renewed hope, a fresh start, and a sign of new life.

Renewed hope that COVID-19 is coming under control and our lives will return to a new normal.

A fresh start for respiratory students graduating and becoming part of the workforce. A fresh start for respiratory departments who have anxiously awaited their graduation in anticipation of filling open positions.

A sign of new life in spring. A sign of new life post COVID-19.

For all the beautiful babies born this spring, we welcome you. You are hope and a new life.

Celebrating Our New RTs

Respiratory Programs all over the country are celebrating their graduates. One of those is celebrating the country’s first. The Ohio State University graduated seven students from the first Advanced Practice for Respiratory Therapy cohort. It is the first but certainly not our last!

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF OUR GRADUATES.

AARC Staffing Updates

The AARC has hired a new VP of education. Lanny Inabnit, MS, RRT, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, RCP, FAARC is scheduled to arrive May 31. Lanny comes to the AARC from Boise State University’s BS degree advancement program. Please join me in welcoming Lanny to our AARC family.

The AARC also bid a retirement farewell to Kathy Blackmon. After 40 years at the AARC Kathy retired May 7. We wish her all the best in her retirement.

Virtual Lobby Campaign Recap

The AARC PACT 2021 just wrapped up with a record-setting number of advocates. Past President and PACT Chair Frank Salvatore, MBA, RRT, FAARC, summarized the April 29 activities:

  • 5,010 Advocates have sent 40,862 emails, 1,832 Tweets and 99 Facebook shares from our platform.
  • RTs continue to be over two thirds of the advocates.
  • We added five more Congressional offices who received communication.
    • 98% of the 437 House of Representatives offices have now heard from us.
    • 100% of the Senators offices have heard from us.
  • The AARC Social Media Toolkit has the resources you need to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Our Frequently Asked Questions provide additional information about legislative initiatives.

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In 2021, the AARC is focusing on two bills, and we are asking Members of Congress to co-sponsor in the 117th Congress. They are:

CONNECT (Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies) for Health Act — H.R. 2903 and S.1512

This bicameral, bipartisan bill includes provisions to expand access to telehealth services on a permanent basis; specifically, it promotes increased access to telehealth services by health care professionals, such as respiratory therapists (RTs), who are not currently described as eligible practitioners in the Medicare program’s telehealth benefit, as part of new payment models being tested by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center. Testing models that include RTs as telehealth providers offers expanded access to their expertise. Over 150 organizations officially supported this legislative initiative, including AARC, as well as half the Senate.

Allied Health Workers Diversity Act

This bill was first introduced in 2019 to support the need to improve educational opportunities through use of grants or scholarships for individuals who are from underrepresented backgrounds, including students from racial and ethnic minorities, in the allied health workforce. At the time, however, only the professions of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology and audiology were included. Based on the recommendation of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the committee with jurisdiction for the bill, the reintroduction of the bill in the 117th Congress will include respiratory therapists. The bill would increase retention of students by awarding financial support to eligible RTs to complete an associate, bachelor, master, or doctoral degree program. AARC can also make recommendations on eligible candidates.

I encourage anyone who has not already done so to reach out to their Congressional Delegation and ask them to support this important patient-centered bill and proposed bill.

Looking Ahead, Advocacy in 2022

In case you have not heard, next year’s meeting is scheduled to be ON THE HILL. The dates are:

  • Monday, April 25, 2022 – Briefing
  • Tuesday, April 26, 2022 – Hill Day and Debriefing
  • Wednesday, April 27, 2022 – Depart DC

Other Noteworthy Items:

  • The AARC Board of Directors met in Dallas in April. Our next meeting is planned for July in FL.
  • The Specialty Practitioner of the Year (SPOTY) Nominations have launched. We have SO MANY talented respiratory therapists among us. Do not let this opportunity go by without nominating a deserving colleague in one of these specialty areas. (Deadline to nominate is June 1.)
  • Nominations for Board of Director open seats are over, and the Election Committee is working develop a ballot.
  • Congress 2021 planning is underway and will be live and in-person in Phoenix AZ, November 6-9. I cannot wait to see you all there! Two years is too long without live education and fellowship.
  • The AARC has also planned the Leadership Boot Camp to be in-person for Fall 2021. Postponed from Spring 2021 and cancelled in Spring 2020, our affiliates have made it known they are ready to return. Bring your great questions. We will be waiting for you.
  • In response to the Biden Administration on April 29 the AARC responded: “The AARC strongly supports the proposal to seek a ban on menthol in cigarettes. It is a significant advancement in the interest of public health and long overdue,” said AARC’s President and CEO, Sheri Tooley. As a member of the Tobacco Control Partners Coalition, led by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society/Cancer Action Network, and the American Heart Association, the AARC is an advocate for both tobacco cessation and tobacco prevention programs. “As a responsibility to the public, we have taken a strong position against cigarette smoking and the use of tobacco in any form, including products that contain flavors, and will continue to do so” added President Tooley. Go to the AARC Newsroom to read the entire article. Once again, a big thank you to Anne Marie Hummel, VP for Advocacy and Government Affairs for her strong work.

As always, I welcome your questions. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at Sheri.Tooley@AARC.org.

Stay Safe!

Sheri Tooley, BSRT, RRT-NPS, CPFT, AE-C, FAARC

Email newsroom@aarc.org with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Sheri Tooley, BSRT, RRT-NPS, CPFT, AE-C, FAARC, is the 2021-2022 President and CEO of the American Association for Respiratory Care. She has been the Supervisor of Respiratory Care Education at Rochester Regional Health in Rochester New York for the past 10 years. Sheri’s respiratory love is pediatrics and neonatology and teaching. Her hobbies include gourmet cooking, traveling, camping with her husband and yorkie, meeting new people, and learning about different cultures. Sheri’s pride and daily joy are their 4 children and spouses, and her grandchildren who call her GiGi.

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