Policy, advocacy, and health care access focus of Utah Chapter meeting
The Utah Chapter of the American College of Surgeons met September 13–14, 2014, at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City. An enthusiastic 34 members and guests were in attendance for a Friday night poster competition and dinner, and for a Saturday program. In addition, 12 chapter officers convened to discuss preliminary planning for the upcoming year.
Highlights of the Utah Chapter annual meeting included the poster competition, featuring the work of 14 pre-med and medical students and residents. The winner of the Michael Collins Research Award was Huizhong Li, graduate research assistant at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, working with Jay Agarwal, MD, FACS, on a project titled A New Vascular Coupling Device for End-to-End Anastamosis. Second prize was awarded to Alice Chung, MD, and third prize to Jeffrey Redshaw, research assistant, both of the University of Utah School of Medicine.
The chapter dinner speaker was Douglas Grey, MD, FACS, co-founder of Operation Access. The mission of Operation Access is to provide health care professionals in the San Francisco, CA, Bay area with opportunities to donate vital surgical and specialty care to people in need.
The theme of Saturday’s program was “Policy, Advocacy, and Access to Healthcare.” Brian Stagg, MD, University of Utah, described the work of the Moran Eye Center, which is providing for the eye care needs of the homeless and underserved in both Salt Lake City and Park City. Christina Gallop, MD, medical director of the Fourth Street Clinic in Salt Lake City, spoke of the surgical needs of the homeless community in that city.
Amalia Cochran, MD, FACS, Utah Chapter President and a member of the American College of Surgeons Professional Association’s Political Action Committee (ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC) Board of Directors, provided a legislative overview of surgery-related issues that are currently being debated in Congress and discussed the importance of ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC membership. Dr. Cochran also updated the group on SurgeonsVoice, a greatly enhanced grassroots advocacy program aimed at recruiting, educating, and motivating ACS Fellows to use their influence with decision makers in Washington, DC.
U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson (UT) participated in a question-and-answer session centered on current health care legislation. Representative Matheson is the lead sponsor of the Good Samaritan Bill (H.R. 36), which would ensure that physicians and other providers who volunteer across state lines in response to a federally declared disaster receive the same liability protection currently offered to those who volunteer in-state.
State Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck offered advice on how surgeons can get involved in health care reform at the state level. Rep. Chavez-Houck encouraged audience members to educate members of the Utah Health Services Reform Taskforce about the provision of charity care in Utah.
Sam Finlayson, MD, FACS, chair of the department of surgery at the University of Utah, closed the annual meeting with a talk on surgeon supply and physician workforce issues and how future models of collaborative care may affect them.
For additional information on the Utah Chapter, contact Dr. Cochran at firstname.lastname@example.org.