April 29, 2020

We’ve talked a lot over the past few weeks about all the work that the NHMS has been doing at the state level, but I wanted to make sure that physicians in the state know that we are working closely with New Hampshire’s federal delegation as well, to advocate for our patients and for Granite State physicians.

Just over the past couple of weeks, we have had Zoom meetings with Senator Hassan, Congressman Pappas, and Congresswoman Kuster, and a meeting with Senator Shaheen is in the works. We’ve convened a group of your colleagues from around the state, representing various specialties and different practice types from private practice to large health systems to FQHCs, to help our congressional representatives get a sense of what is happening ‘on the ground’ with respect to the COVID pandemic here in NH, and to advocate for a variety of issues that directly affect patients and physicians in the state.

After the call last week with Congressman Pappas, one of the physicians from the call remarked that it felt like the group had spent the hour discussing more physician-related than patient concerns. I’ve reflected on this quite a bit since then, as I think most of us would agree that we try to always put our patients first. Even when I think about the NHMS mission statement, it states that we “bring together physicians to advocate for the well-being of our patients, for our profession, and for the betterment of public health”—patients come first.

What I realized is that we are used to advocating for our patients, but never before have we been in a position where our own health and safety, as well as our financial viability, have been at such risk as a direct result of trying to do the right thing for our patients. If we don’t have adequate testing and PPE, then caring for patients puts us directly in harm’s way. If we ask patients scheduled for routine care and testing to stay home for their own safety, we are crippling ourselves financially.

So in order to keep our patients first, in the current crisis it is critical that we advocate fiercely for the resources—physical and financial—needed to safely and appropriately deliver the care they need, where and when they need it. That is what we are doing, and will continue to do, as we meet and talk with New Hampshire’s federal delegation.

And finally, even as we start looking ahead to what a ‘new normal’ co-existing with some level of persistent COVID in the community might look like, we will continue to advocate for attention at the federal level to the longer term, where prevention and preparedness are key and we have adequately funded our local, state, and federal public health infrastructure to be prepared to respond to the next crisis. Then we won’t have to worry as much about personal and financial safety, and we can focus on what we do best—patient care.

In health,

John Klunk, MD
NHMS President

Please send comments or questions to john.klunk@nhms.org.