"I wish it need not have happened in my time,“ said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf. “And so do all who live to see such times.” These words were written by J.R.R. Tolkien in the “Fellowship of the Ring.” As many of you are aware, I am a science fiction fan; my children were fans of the Lord of the Rings movies. So, how do these words speak to us today?
I am seeing many medical associations post articles about reopening your practice. While these may contain good advice, results from our recent membership survey indicated the vast majority of community-based allergists never closed their offices. As we have repeatedly asserted, the services we provide are essential and keep people out of urgent care centers and the emergency departments. I commend those of you who remained open during these trying times, even though it was stressful to you and your staff.
So, even though most of us have remained open, the challenge to rebuild our practices remains. The College is focused on providing the tools needed to not just to survive, but to thrive. We continue to advocate for fair payment for all services, including telehealth. Our recent webinar showcased new strategies to market your practice as a way to reverse the recent downturn in patient demand. Thanks to our Advocacy Council Chair Jim Tracy and the College staff for producing an excellent series of webinars that provide you all the information needed to survive in these unprecedented times: Caring for asthma patients during COVID-19, available loans and grants, human resources issues, and more
On another important topic, the College will continue to take a strong stand against racism in all forms. Our release to the public condemning racism talks to our core values. As president, I will continue to strive for more diversity in our committees and leadership.
The College has for many years been committed to diversity on our board and in our appointments. As a recent example, I point out the selection process that occurred when the College was recently awarded a new delegate and alternate to the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates. Through every step of the decision-making process, we focused on diversity in age, gender, ethnic background, practice geography, type of practice, and even political philosophy. This was not because we had rules mandating our decision, but because it was the correct thing to do.
The College will continue to advocate for access to quality asthma care for those with the highest morbidity and mortality rates, African Americans and Americans of Puerto Rican decent. Earlier this year the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology published a perspective on health care disparities in asthma.1 We wrote, “Persistent health disparities in asthma care should concern physicians involved in the care of asthma patients. Health care disparities add additional costs not only to those patients and families adversely impacted by such disparities, but also to the health care system.” We promise to continue our advocacy efforts to see that these disparities end.
Just like Frodo, many of us wonder why these trying times have come when we are in practice. And just like Gandalf advises, it’s not the fact that we are living in perilous time that matters, but how we rise to the challenge that is set before us. Rest assured, the College will remain your trusted partner. Until next time…
J. Allen Meadows, MD, FACAAI
- Zachary CY, Scott TA, Foggs M, Meadows JA. Asthma: An illustration of health care disparities. Ann Allergy, Asthma Immunol. 2020;124(2):148–9.