“If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I’d have had them first.” Those wise words are attributed to Lois Wyse, an American advertising legend. I had hoped to announce the arrival of my first grandchild in this column, but alas, like the times we live in, the future is hard to predict. Just as we all face changes in our practice, our personal lives are affected as well. Grandparents are not allowed to enter the hospital, and the father is even excluded from prenatal visits. Nonetheless, we anticipate a time of great joy and happiness! What have I learned from this time of uncertainty?
We, as allergists, face more uncertainty on a daily basis than ever before in our practices. The College has faced uncertainly as well. We had to choose between lamenting what could have been and embracing the future and learning from our experience. I commend the Program Committee for creating what arguably will be the best virtual medical meeting ever staged! Many of our virtual committee meetings have gone so well, I will be recommending to the Board of Regents that many of these gatherings permanently become virtual. Even in this time of uncertainty, we have learned and adapted to improve our future.
Almost every week, I receive a thoughtful email from a member asking the College to write a guideline or position statement on something related to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am reminded of our recent efforts to maintain our ability to mix allergy extracts in our offices. In good faith, we negotiated an agreement with USP that we thought all of us could accept. When we began circulating to membership ideas of what an agreement might look like, I heard from a large group of allergists who were using a novel approach to mixing extracts that was fully legitimate and saved their system money. The eventual agreement with USP will likely not allow these allergists to continue this practice. While I am very pleased with the agreement we reached with USP, one of my biggest disappointments as a leader of the College was our inability to negotiate terms that would allow these allergists to continue a practice that was entirely appropriate.
To address the frequent requests the College receives from members to write position statements on both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related issues, we have developed specific guidelines about how and when position statements, guidelines, and guidance can be written. Also, as we have already seen, circumstances during the pandemic are changing so rapidly that some of the advice and recommendations given by some individuals and organizations have become outdated within weeks of being announced. Each allergist needs to understand the benefits and risks to their specific practice of almost everything they do, including the prevalence of COVID-19 in their practice area. I know for many of us it would be easier to establish “rules” and narrow direction that we could all follow, but I remain convinced that there is no “one size fits all” solution to the problems we face during this pandemic.
So, as I await the arrival of a new family member and a very happy time in my life, I encourage you, despite the hardships, to proceed with joy and happiness. We will remain flexible in our approach to the pandemic and adjust as circumstances warrant. As always, we will remain vigilant as your trusted partner to preserve the clinical practice of allergy. One last quote from Lois Wyse: “Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.”
Until next time…
Update: Rosemary Gilbert was born on September 18, 2020 at 6:52 am. Mother and baby are healthy and happy! Papa Meadows is proud!
J. Allen Meadows, MD, FACAAI