KMA Delegates, KMA Members, friends, and honored guests, I want to welcome you to the 2020 KMA annual meeting via this virtual platform. I also want to humbly thank each of you for electing me as your KMA President for 2020 and tell you that this is one of the biggest honors and biggest thrills in my life.
I want to say at the beginning of my comments that this was not supposed to be me this year. This was supposed to Bob Couch’s presidency and inaugural address. As everyone knows, Bob tragically and sorrowfully passed last November. I had the great fortune of getting to know Bob through our mutual leadership roles in the KMA and I can say that he worked and advocated tirelessly for his patients, his fellow Kentuckians, and the KMA. If I can be half the KMA president that Bob would have been, then I will be a success. My own personal thoughts and prayers are with Bob’s family as I know are the thoughts and prayers of the entire KMA body.
I also want to thank Brent Wright for the superb and exemplary job that he did this past year as KMA President. During the first half of his year as President he was everywhere, from Paducah, to Louisville, to Frankfort, to Lexington, to Northern Kentucky, to Ashland, and to multiple cities in between. Then with his second half of the year and the COVID 19 crisis, he was the calming voice of the KMA that reassured KMA physicians, non-KMA physicians, and all Kentuckians. Yet, somehow in the midst of all of his business, he managed to practice medicine. Brent has been a very important mentor for me as I begin my presidency. I remember Brent saying during his presidential inaugural speech last year that he had big shoes to fill from Bruce Scott’s preceding presidential year. Well, Brent, I have equally big shoes to fill this year.
I want to thank my parents, Lewis and Nadine, siblings Ken, Steve, and Janice and their families who have supported me throughout my career and life. They have been supportive, have kept me humble, and have been some of the strongest influencers of my life.
I want to mention and thank many numerous colleagues and people who have helped me throughout my career and directly and indirectly led me to this peak of my career. Like most other active KMA members, I initially became involved in my local medical society, which in my case I am very proud to say, is the Lexington Medical Society. Carolyn Kurz was the LMS Executive VP/CEO when I joined in 1991 and was very influential and helpful in encouraging me to become more and more involved. Following Carolyn’s retirement, Chris Hickey became the current LMS Executive VP/CEO and has continued his support as I have become more active and involved in the KMA. David Bensema was my chief resident during my residency at U.K. and has been my mentor at LMS and KMA. I was David’s alternate Trustee to the KMA Board of Trustees and have been proud to have followed his KMA footsteps, as KMA Trustee, Vice Chair and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Vice President, and now President. David has always been supportive and always encouraged me to make that next step in organized medicine. Andy Pulito has been a mentor and an example of how to be an active U.K. faculty member, which is where I work, and still be an active KMA member, including President. Terry Grimm was a fellow medical school classmate who joined the LMS/KMA the same year that I did. We always sat together at LMS meetings, then became active together at the LMS and KMA, and we just had fun together at the meetings. Lastly, Pat Padgett Executive VP/CEO of the KMA has been the facilitator and supporter of me personally and then, just made it happen for me at the KMA. Carolyn before her retirement and now Chris and Pat have all recognized how busy physicians are, but at the same time realized how important the work is that we do in organized medicine, and they have all helped make it happen. In addition to Carolyn, Chris, and Pat are the wonderful LMS and KMA staff, and together they streamline the process to make it efficient and effective for the physician to accomplish such extraordinary feats. So let me encourage every KMA physician who has been hesitant to get more involved because you are too busy, to just try it. If I can do it then you can do it too!
Due to the COVID 19 crisis and subsequent virtual KMA annual meeting, there is no presidential dinner and no accompanying President’s head table at the dinner. However, I want to specifically mention these special people in my life and medical career, who I would have invited to sit at my head table: my family, Carolyn Kurz, Chris Hickey, Pat Padgett, David Bensema, Andy Pulito, and Terry Grimm.
My Presidential Theme and focus for this year is in conjunction with the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care and will be: “BE WELL. STAY WELL”. This will be directed to all Kentuckians and to all physicians and health care providers. I am a general internist at U.K who has had the privilege of providing primary care for multitudes of patients for 30 years, including many of my colleagues who are physicians and health care providers. I work with residents at U.K. and always remind them that our job as primary care providers is two-fold: identifying the issue or making the diagnosis and equally important is convincing the patient to do what we recommend. So, throughout the year we will identify important issues and subsequent ways to improve the physical and mental health of Kentuckians and Kentucky physicians and then we will also spend time convincing the public and physicians to heed the advice. In full disclosure, I will be talking to myself with all of these issues, as well.
Topics that we will address throughout the year will include healthy living, getting enough sleep, exercising, avoiding obesity, not smoking and avoiding all tobacco products, drinking alcohol in moderation, managing mental health, obtaining recommended vaccinations, attending regular “well visits” with your physician/provider, and specifically for physicians, to not just use “curb-side visits”. Of course, with the current COVID 19 crisis that seems to be continuing, we will also address proper social distancing, wearing masks, and hand washing. We will also have multiple physician/provider focused programs and information with particular emphasis on preventing physician burnout and managing stress.
The “BE WELL. STAY WELL.” campaign will be presented throughout the year in conjunction with the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care in a number of existing and new KMA efforts and platforms, including Presidential Messages that are written and pre-recorded to members for posting on our website, social media, Public Health Minute videos, op-eds, radio PSAs, and possible television spots on the local news or KET.
We may be able to have a standing column in the Medical News or MD Update written by different physicians with tips on staying healthy and a standing column in the KBML newsletter. We anticipate being able to partner with various specialty groups aligned with the campaign focus, make in-person appearances at existing health and wellness events offering a physician speaker or materials for distribution, and offer an in-person event at the state capitol with “BE WELL. STAY WELL.” targeted messages for legislators.
I am very happy to report that Anthem has given a $25,000 grant to help fund the distribution of this message.
I will also mention, that one of my areas of expertise is identifying and facilitating the brilliance of my colleagues, including my fellow KMA members. So, the Foundation and I will need help with a lot of this and I plan to be calling on many of you to showcase your talents and help with many of these activities. Working together in the KMA we will be stronger and we will achieve great things in 2020 – 21.
I want to conclude my address by reiterating how honored and humbled I am that you have elected me to this esteemed position. I promise that I will do my best in this role. Please contact me for anything at firstname.lastname@example.org or text me at (859) 339-7191.