Pink is the New Black

Mondays at work are usually never fun, especially when you find out that your close friend in her mid-40s has been diagnosed with Stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast.  She had missed her regular mammogram last year.  It immediately took me back to July 2010, when my older sister, Ivy, passed away at the age of 53 after the recurrence of an aggressive breast tumor.  Two years prior, she had gone through chemotherapy, radiation treatments and a mastectomy with reconstruction and was doing well for approximately 12 months.  It made me wonder how medicine is faring in 2014 in the fight against breast cancer.

Head Games

As you read this, the college football season of 2013 will be over.  Florida State has been crowned the final BCS national champion.  The NFL playoffs are in full swing, with the Patriots and Colts playing in Foxboro yet again.  And all the while, even though a major lawsuit dealing with concussions was somewhat settled back in August 2013 (see N.Y. Times article), the hits keep coming.  A look at the NFL’s official injury report for Week 17 showed that 18 players on 32 teams were being treated for concussions.  In this past weekend’s wild-card playoffs, with eight teams playing, at least five concussions occurred, three on the Kansas City Chiefs alone (see SB Nation article).

Physician Shortage in the Future: Fact or Fiction?

A recent op-ed article in The New York Times looked at the issue of whether there will be a physician shortage in the United States.  The article was written by two doctors closely involved with either the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or the White House during their careers.  Read article here.

"Physician, Heal Thyself"

On a cold and crisp December day, hundreds of friends, family and colleagues, myself included, crowded into the small church to pay their last respects to one of the great physicians of our generation.  As I waited in line, looking at the multitude of floral arrangements, awards, photos and letters from an outstanding medical career, I wondered how many doctors take care of their patients better than they take care of their own health.

The Refugee Healthcare Experience

Three days before I was born in 1964, Nelson Mandela was found guilty of sabotage against the South African National Party in the Rivonia trials. Two days after my 12th birthday, the Soweto Uprising occurred, which eventually led to the African National Congress taking a lead role in the anti-apartheid struggle.  As I have watched the memorials last week after the passing of Nelson Mandela, it is an appropriate time to look at the healthcare experience of African (and other) refugees in our state.  

The N.H. Department of Health and Human Services has an Office of Minority Health and Refugee Affairs, which was initially established in 1999 as the Office of Minority Health.  It has three main focus areas:

The Gift of SGR

As we head into the holiday season, one gift that most, if not all, physicians would enjoy is a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, or SGR.  The current SGR formula, introduced in 1997, has threatened to cut physician Medicare payments by up to double digits.  The last proposed cut for 2013 was 26.5 percent, but was postponed due to a last-minute congressional “patch” known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which was passed on this past New Year’s Day.

Bullying in Health Care

Over the past few weeks, a sports story has grabbed national attention because of its implication for workplace bullying issues.  This case involves the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League, and the main players involved are Richie Incognito (the alleged bully) and Jonathan Martin (the alleged victim).

A New Term

This past weekend, the New Hampshire Medical Society voted in a new slate of officers, and I am honored to be approved as your 182nd president.  The Annual Scientific Conference, held at the Mountain View Grand Resort, was the largest attended conference ever, with great lectures, energy and camaraderie.  It even snowed!  This year I hope to continue the excellent work of Dr. Harker and the previous 180 presidents who have represented physicians in New Hampshire.  I plan to focus on disability issues (both physical and mental/emotional) as well as the numerous healthcare transformation topics that lay ahead.  This will be a year of challenge, but also opportunity, for medical leaders who answer the call.  I look forward to representing you and working with you.

Interesting Times

May you live in interesting times …

My term as president of the New Hampshire Medical Society concludes at the end of this week, and the year has certainly been interesting.  While health care and the practice environment continue to change rapidly, the NHMS has been there at the table representing you, working to improve care and the public’s health without altering the sacred patient-physician relationship.  I feel incredibly privileged to have served you and the society.

Be Mindful of Habits

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.   - Aristotle 

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