We enter our annual change of leadership here at ASMA during unprecedented times, with challenges encroaching on the medical field from all angles: a global pandemic with COVID-19, public and private reimbursement changes, increases in scope of practice, and increased regulation and oversight, just to name a few.
The strain and stress placed on our community has been tremendous.
But through it all, we have continued to persevere. Rising to the challenges as we demonstrate steadfast commitment to apply our compassion, breadth of knowledge, skills and an Alaskan “can do” attitude, we have provided exceptional care to the people of our state.
Despite obstacles that last year would have seemed unthinkable – the pandemic, lack of PPE, shutting down operating rooms and surgery centers, travel restrictions, no cruise ships, no climbing season on Denali – we stayed strong to take care of Alaskans.
Certainly, there were obstacles.
It wasn’t easy.
And it isn’t over.
But I wanted to take this time to say, “Thank you.”
Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to keep your office open, some at your own expense.
Thank you to those who helped procure much-needed PPE during the early stages of COVID-19.
Thank you as you managed to figure out how to incorporate telemedicine in our massive state of Alaska, saving patients from having to travel or missing critical appointments because of pandemic fears.
Thanks to all of you who continued to treat patients, despite all the unknowns of coronavirus or appropriate PPE.
Specifically, here at ASMA a big thanks to Dr. Eli Powell, our immediate past president, for his leadership during this hectic year.
To the dedicated staff at ASMA – Communications Director Dave Rush and Office Manager Cassie Jeanes – who kept things running, helping to keep us all informed with Heartbeat, the website and many phone calls and Zoom meetings, thank you. To Mike Haugen, our former executive director who after eight years of leadership at ASMA is moving on to new challenges, thank you for your dedication and service to Alaska’s physicians. His role as executive director is, gratefully, being managed by Pam Ventgen, who brings many years of physician advocacy to our association as we move through this transition.
Finally, I want to thank all the members of ASMA throughout Alaska. As a member-based organization, it is only through your support that we continue to function.
Unfortunately, during these trying times, like so many other organizations, we have seen a significant decrease in our membership. People offer many different reasons for a lapse in membership or for never joining ASMA.
Simply put, we need you and, as has been said in other materials and for the reasons mentioned here, I would argue that Alaska and all the physicians in the state need a strong medical society.
It is an election year, the state is quickly burning through what savings it had, and we physicians are continually viewed as overpaid and underworked – thus making us extremely attractive targets for legislators looking for revenue. Without ASMA and our lobbyist, Kevin Jardell, keeping constant vigil on the goings-on in Juneau, we would not stand a chance against the constant onslaught.
Every member makes our association stronger, and a stronger ASMA helps protect every physician practice.
So please take the time to become a member of the Alaska State Medical Association. As the year is more than half over, we have dropped the membership price for 2020 by two-thirds. (See related story, Page 1.) We will be decreasing membership dues next year, making continued membership even easier.
For those of you who are members, thank you. For those who are not, please go to asmadocs.org and join today.
Thank you for your continued care, dedication and commitment to the people of Alaska. Stay safe, stay healthy, and take care.
Steve Sivils, DO, is a pediatric anesthesiologist in Anchorage and the president of the Alaska State Medical Association.