As I sit here to write to you today, I struggle to put just the right words on the page to articulate the profound importance of respiratory therapists. Our country and profession are facing yet another round of COVID-19—this one disproportionately affecting the young. Adding increasing RSV and asthma cases to that, and the result is stretching our children’s hospitals beyond their limits. Respiratory therapists nationwide continue to work long hours for many days in a row. In addition to COVID-19 in our country, countless forest fires are burning out of control, creating respiratory therapy-related illnesses treated by respiratory therapists and a Category 4 Hurricane that challenged care in our Gulf Coast states. Ida continued to devastate our country with life-threatening tornados and flooding that extended to the Northeast.
I want to thank each of you personally. Your commitment to our patients and their families is second to none. I also remind you that the AARC RT COVID-19 fund is available for families of RTs that lost their lives to COVID-19. This fund provides $500 to the family and two commemorative bricks in the AARC Virtual Museum for families and co-workers to honor their memory. If you know of an RT who lost their life to COVID-19, notify Crystal Maldonado in the Executive Office to begin the process. All families of these RTs are eligible regardless of membership status.
The AARC has also opened the disaster relief fund for those RTs who suffered loss from fires in the west or Hurricane Ida and her path of destruction. You can find eligibility requirements for disaster relief on the AARC website or by contacting the Executive Office.
I’m sure you have heard, Sam Giordano, MBA, RRT, FAARC, has agreed to temporarily come out of retirement to serve as the AARC Interim Executive Director. Sam likes to tell people that I dragged him out of his treehouse. But, in reality, Sam’s profound love of the profession and our professional organization led him to accept the ask.
Having known and worked with Sam for over 30 years, I can tell you that he hasn’t skipped a beat and continues to serve the respiratory community in several volunteer positions. It is an absolute honor and privilege for me to be able to work with Sam again.
The AARC Board of Directors ratified the appointment of Mr. John Walton MBA, MHA, RRT, FAARC, to lead the search committee to hire a permanent Executive Director. Final interviews of search firms are being conducted, and we expect the work leading up to the national search of our next Executive Director to begin by September 6. John is a Past President of the AARC, a Jimmy A. Young Medalist, and continues to volunteer as our Illinois Registered Agent and is a highly regarded member of our Audit Sub-Committee due to his extensive experience in finance and leadership. In addition, John has years of experience as a Sr. VP, COO, and CEO, making him an incredible asset to our team. In John’s words: “We will leave no stone unturned to find the absolute best Executive Director for the AARC.”
The Safe and Effective Staffing Guide (The Guide), formally known as the Uniform Reporting Manual (URM), has received rave reviews!! A BIG “thank you” goes out to Garry Kauffman as committee chair for leading this group of dedicated professionals who published an outstanding document. Highlights include:
- The Steering Group reviewed several terminology/taxonomy issues regarding high flow systems. The Guide Expert Panel reviewed and sought advice from RESPIRATORY CARE, NBRC, and CoARC representatives. The recommendations will be released soon.
- In addition to updating procedures/time standards, the Guide includes three new sections to provide additional education and support for RT leaders. These new sections include case studies in productivity, how to integrate your productivity system within your EMR, and the introduction of a new value proposition for RTs: Value-Efficiency
- With the format changed from CD to cloud-based, we can now make changes quickly and communicate these to subscribers. Unlike the historical paper/CD-based system, this enhances the value of this tool and keeps it current.
- Previously, the “URM” was only available in one format. With the publication of The Guide, we now offer both Regular and Premium subscriptions. For example, premium subscribers receive additional content and benefits throughout the life of their subscription, which adds additional value.
- Marketing to date has included three webinars to members of the Leadership and Management and Education section, with a fourth webinar scheduled for December, print and electronic advertisements in RESPIRATORY CARE and AARC News, communication to BOD and HOD members, ongoing communication within the Leadership & Management sections, announcements via the AARC Leadership & Management LARS pilots, presentations to several consulting companies, presentations to chartered affiliated leadership groups, presentation at chartered affiliate seminars/symposia, inclusion as part of a Summer Forum plenary presentation, and the first podcast to premium subscribers.
- With the ‘Safe and Effective Staffing Guide’ launch, a marketing plan to address key stakeholders is being developed. Historically, marketing/communications were directed at RT leaders. Based on feedback from RT leaders, we understand the importance of broadening our education to include executives, consultants, physicians, and other key stakeholders. Plans are in motion to place advertising in ACHE and HFMA publications. Subscribers will be informed prior to this messaging so that they are aware of the timing and content of the marketing pieces.
As disappointing as it was, we made the tough decision to pivot Congress 2021 to a completely virtual model. Respiratory therapists continue to struggle with the effects of COVID-19. Hours continue to be long, and staffing continues to be short. The pandemic has created not only institutional challenges and financial implications but has also made financial strains on our respiratory therapy communities.
I am confident that the executive office staff will once again offer a virtual platform that exceeds our expectations. While I know we all long to be together in person, we need to stay safe. Our patients need us now more than ever! So let us take care of each other.
I invite you to reach out to a colleague that you might only see once a year at Congress and ask them how they are doing. It’s always nice to get a call or email from someone you have not talked to. Don’t forget about AARConnect. You can reach out to members privately via Connect.
Finally, I would like to thank all our military members and veterans. The tradition I miss most by not having a live Congress is presenting the colors and the flag folding ceremony. These are just two of the ways the AARC takes time to honor our military members. We owe our freedoms to the dedication of the brave individuals who serve and have served our country with valor. We appreciate all you do. Thank you.
As we look ahead to the final months of 2021, I am grateful to all our members–and RTs everywhere–for continued resilience and strength during this pandemic. I know you are all stretched and tested each day as you care for patients. And yet, we still have hope. Hope for the time when surges and variants of this virus are behind us. Until that time, stay #RTSTRONG, my friends.
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