Local Color at the ASA Annual Meeting

  • Pauker, Kenneth, MD
| Nov 14, 2011

CSA Online First offered a nice expository overview of the ASA Annual Meeting, which can be found here, written by Dr. Karen Sibert on October 24.  

Here is a bit more backstory and “local color” of happenings in Chicago.

The Landing

Chicago is known as the windy city, and for good reason. However, this time, I was treated to something really special. As we approached the runway, and we were just about at touchdown, the engines roared back to life and the plane accelerated and pulled steeply up and to the right. A bit later, a flight attendant announced that the wind had shifted, and the pilot just did not like the feel, and so decided to have a “do over.” I confess that I did not particularly enjoy it, but I was palpably grateful for a second chance. The second approach and landing were routine, albeit bumpy, and we all applauded upon touchdown.

The Suite

The CSA had a suite on the top (36th) floor of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, just down the hall from incoming ASA President Jerry Cohen, with rooms adjoining for both your president and president-elect. Adjoining rooms for the “night owls” are important in order to keep the suite open for visitors until late in the evening. Many members of the CSA delegation, other CSA members and guests (including Dr. and Mrs. Jack Moore), senior members of the NYSSA, and many ASA dignitaries (including Drs. Cohen, Kapur, Cole, Mason, Phillip, Vila, Flowerdew, etc.) sought out our suite, where we entered into a great deal of networking and vigorous discussions of the burning issues confronting the ASA HOD. All agreed that discussions in our suite likely will be instrumental in helping to advance CSA members as future leaders in the ASA.

The Interview

After appropriate preparation with Jen Gremmels, Public Relations Manager with the ASA, I was interviewed on Friday morning via teleconference by Newsweek, concerning that most popular issue of the day, propofol. This particular article focused on propofol abuse. Although I was a bit disappointed that more of the facts I presented were not incorporated into the piece as published, entitled “Doctors’ Crush on Jackson’s Drug,” that is the nature of being interviewed by the press.

The Flavor

All agreed that Dr. Dan Cole chaired an outstanding meeting, with many innovations including the sold out “Hot Topics,” great keynote speakers like Drs. Kapur and Gawande, and terrific educational content.

The layout of the meeting itself with all of the education sessions, committees, caucuses, and the HOD at McCormick Place, remote from the accommodations and receptions at the Hyatt Regency Chicago downtown, was offset by a large convention space, and efficient shuttle buses. The scale and the amount of walking required to get from one event to another at McCormick was considerable, but the reward was the proximity to downtown Chicago with all of its beautiful architectural buildings, wonderful ethnic restaurants, and other city attractions.

As always at the ASA Annual Meeting, there were many conflicting meetings and lectures, and folks, particularly CSA leaders, felt pulled in many directions, often having to choose one committee meeting, or part of one, over another.

Pizza and Beer

In no way am I an expert on deep-dish pizza, but I was able to have lunch at Giordano’s, and then the CSA had the delegation dinner at Gino’s. This was a departure from the usual seafood and steak fare that we usually succumb to at these kinds of meetings, but pizza, beer, and dressing casually were appreciated by all who attended. There were many hip-hip-hoorays for Dr. Kapur and others, and cannolis to finish the meal.

The Mayor of Chicago

The President’s Reception (jointly hosted by the outgoing and incoming ASA Presidents) is an “invitation only” affair and was held at the Chicago Art Museum. The fare was elegant and tasty, and a lot of “people watching,” almost like one might do at the corner of the Boulevards Saint Germain and Saint Michel in Paris, and back slapping of old friends was in evidence. Dr. Jerry Cohen presented Dr. Warner with a variety of gag gifts, commemorating Dr. Warner’s return to his dairy farm in Minnesota, including a substantial cowbell.

My understanding is that the economic worth of the ASA Meeting to Chicago is on the order of $88 million. Whatever the real figure is, it was enough to bring out Mayor Rahm Emanuel to welcome and thank us, and to ask for us to consider supporting his pet project, a new charter school for the health sciences, which intends to prepare immigrant children from disadvantaged families for careers in the health sciences, hopefully as physicians. Frankly, considering the Mayor’s involvement in pushing through PPACA, I was a bit surprised by his courage in showing up at the reception, but the group did receive Mayor Emanuel politely.

Next Year in D.C.

The ASA Annual Meeting will be held next year in Washington, D.C. It seems unlikely that President Obama would address members of the ASA, as Rahm Emanuel did, but you never know what is possible in an election year. Rumor has it that James Carville and Mary Matalin will speak during the advocacy program. Having the meeting in D.C. may afford more of our members the opportunity to explore the inner workings of advocacy and the political process, and this should be a strong positive, considering the challenges we are encountering as physicians in our practices. One thing is certain: there may not be physical winds buffeting our arrival in D.C., as there were on my landing in Chicago, but the winds of change in health care will undoubtedly be felt loud and clear next year in D.C.

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