In my last President's Podium address, I said 2010 would be a pivotal year for ACEP, as well as for me personally. The fact is, we are not only witnessing history, but taking part in it. Even though many details about the future of national health care reform are yet to be determined, the focus, mission and vision of the American College of Emergency Physicians remain as clear as ever. The need to shore up our nation's emergency departments is more urgent than ever, and we have a lot of work to do.
Emergency departments continue to close. About a month ago, Deaconess Hospital in Cincinnati announced the closure of its emergency department, because millions of dollars in losses have made sustaining it impossible. St. Vincent's Hospital, an icon of emergency care in New York City, announced it may close its emergency department. And right in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, United Medical Center in Washington, DC, is on the brink of failure. The U.S. Government Accountability Office last year released a report that found emergency patients who need to be seen in 1 to 14 minutes are being seen in twice that timeframe (37 minutes), These closures and disturbing statistics are unacceptable.
We must continue to advocate on behalf of emergency physicians and our patients to ensure we will be able to provide high-quality emergency care. For you, an ACEP spokesperson, that means continuing to stay in the public eye, as well as stay on message.
In February, ACEP's Board of Directors traveled to Washington, DC, and met with members of Congress, the Administration and key players in the health care industry, such as the American Hospital Association. This trip was a huge success, with ACEP converging in high-level meetings throughout the nation's capital and making key people aware of the critical problems facing emergency physicians and emergency patients.
A few weeks later, I was invited back to Washington - this time at the invitation of the White House. I was honored with a front-row seat in the East Room as President Obama made a major address on the state of health care reform. ACEP's president-elect Dr. Sandra Schneider, as well as Drs. Nathan Schlicher and Bruce Auerbach also attended the event.
Our presence at the White House was not an endorsement of the Obama plan, but it shows all how far we have come - that the specialty organization of emergency medicine is at the table with representatives of the highest levels of government and the health care industry. As determined spokespeople, you have helped make that possible. You are the voice of ACEP, and there has never been a more crucial time to speak out on behalf of our specialty and our patients.
Angela Gardner, MD FACEP
Angela Gardner, MD FACEP