It is time to get involved.
The crisis in mental health care for Oregonians continues to grow:
- The Oregon State Hospital is filled to capacity.
- Arrests by law enforcement continue to occur for individuals with untreated and under-treated serious mental illness.
- Demand at local hospitals for short-term admissions continues to rise, which in turn leads to long stays in emergency rooms.
- Families struggle to find support as they try to assist their loved ones (which often includes children and adolescents) and obtain treatment for them.
- Institutions of higher education are now on the front line of helping young adults with emerging mental illness.
- Psychiatrists become busier and busier as we try to keep up with the demand for our services and the increasing acuity of patients at every level of care.
- Although we are busier than we ever have been, reimbursement rates for our services in the face of increasingly onerous documentation requirements continue to create barriers to care and contribute to physician burnout.
And yet this state's psychiatrists remain dedicated to advancing the quality of patient care, improving our practice environments, and maintaining our commitment to to lifelong learning through CME and other activities. It is obvious to me that Oregon's psychiatrists are a remarkable group of intelligent, caring professionals.
Although we exert extraordinary efforts at helping our patients, at times we forget that we can be even more effective (and happier!) when we also help ourselves and each other as fellow psychiatrists. Membership in the OPPA is an important way we can help each other and ourselves.
I joined the OPPA in 2008 because I knew that the help I could give to my individual patients was limited by my practice environment, my patients' socioeconomic environment, and their level of access to health care. I joined the OPPA because I knew that supportive colleagues could help me through my first patient death. I joined the OPPA because I knew the organization would work to ensure that I would be reasonably reimbursed for the work that I do. I joined the OPPA because I could meet colleagues in other practice niches so I could build a strong referral network for patients who needed something other than what I could give them.
I joined the OPPA because we can do together what I cannot do alone.
I'd like to draw your attention to some of the activities that we have done together that individuals could not accomplish alone. These include recent committee work as well as other organizational activities. Along the way I will highlight some of the industrious and inspiring people in our organization who have led these activities. I fully realize that this is a partial accounting of the many people who contribute. I invite you to email me at email@example.com to let me know of other members who are leading efforts to advance psychiatry in Oregon.
Member Assistance Committee: After decades of energetic dedication to helping psychiatrists and other physicians in crisis, Dr.Henry Grass has stepped down from chairing the Membership Assistance Committee. Other members have risen to the occasion and Drs. Tom Hansen, Candace McKenna, Clara Ruiz, Linda Toenniessen, and others have been continuing the committee's important work. The committee seeks new members. No experience is required, the time commitment is small, and the rewards are great.
Public Psychiatry Committee: Dr. Daniel Towns has reinvigorated this committee. He has creating a closed Google group for public psychiatrists and other interested members. As the numbers of Oregonians covered by public funding grows, public psychiatry becomes an increasingly important part of the solution to the problems I outlined in my opening statement above.
Legislative Committee: Drs. Daniel Dick and Craig Zarling in conjunction with our lobbyist, Katy King, have been working hard to advance the quality of psychiatric care and practice environments in Oregon. Some of the actions taken by this committee include advocacy for improvements in the Health Professional Services Program (which serves and oversees physicians and other health professionals who face significant mental health and substance use challenges), working to preserve intensive mental health care services, promoting OPPA interests to influential state legislators and other government officials, and working with other health care organizations. Please see Katy King's excellent summary of recent and upcoming legislative issues elsewhere on this website.
The OPPA is well-represented in the Oregon Health Authority's Behavioral Health Collaborative with OPPA members, Drs. Maggie Bennington-Davis, John Bischof, Mark Bradshaw, Caroline Fisher, and Mike Franz.
Our Past President and current Chair of the Membership Committee, David Conant-Norville, was a private (non-OPPA) sponsor for an Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward fund-raising breakfast. I am proud to report that OPPA members were well-represented at the meeting, with Drs. Bennett Garner, Daniel Dick, Jon Betlinski, and David Pollack as well as Katy King in attendance. Support for our physician colleagues in the state legislature is essential for further advances of our members' interests.
Program Committee: Chaired by Dr. Jonathan Betlinski with administrative assistance from Patti Legarda, this OPPA committee provides high-quality CME that is relevant not just to national practice standards but also the unique demands of serving our fellow Oregonians. This committee has many active, dedicated members that shape these great meetings year after year. If you see a Committee Member at an OPPA CME meeting, please thank him or her for the Committee's hard work.
Membership Committee: Dr. David Conant-Norville leads this committee assisted by Jennifer Boverman. This committee has hosted, for two years now, an annual members-in-training mixer where psychiatrists at all levels of experience and practice environment can meet each other and share their experiences and advice with early career psychiatrists, I attended the most recent event and it was fun and inspiring. If you are wondering why you are a member of the OPPA, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Conant-Norville. If we are not serving you in the ways we should be, we want to know how we can better meet your needs.
OPPA and OCAAP member Kirk Wolfe, MD spearheaded a recent risk management seminar free of charge to OPPA and OCAAP members. It was well-attended and it provided much-needed risk management strategies for medication prescribing and and minimizing risk when tearing suicidal and violent patients.
Our Executive Director, Patrick Sieng, continues to bring innovations to the OPPA. He is developing a summer CME conference in July 2017 for us to be held in beautiful Sunriver, Oregon. This meeting will be focused on risk management issues, a topic that is always useful for us. In addition, psychiatry residents from Oregon Health and Science University and Samaritan Health Services will be presenting as well. The OPPA is committed to promoting a culture of professionalism and lifelong learning among its members at all stages of training, career, and geographic locations in Oregon.
On October 28, OPPA member Alisha Moreland-Capuia, MD moderated an important a panel discussion at the City Club of Portland's Friday Forum entitled #WhatDoctorsLookLike. This forum examined the overt and hidden biases many physicians of color and other underrepresented minorities face as they strive to provide health care and advance their careers. As it that were not enough, Dr. Moreland-Capuia also spoke on a panel entitled Healthcare in the US-- Are we ready for more reform? She spoke alongside Governor John Kitzhaber and renowned health care policy expert Donald Berwick, MD at this City Club of Portland event.
Year and after year, the Ethics Committee, chaired by Vic Richenstein, serves the OPPA with sensitivity and careful deliberation as it reviews ethical concerns brought to its attention.
Our allied organization, The Oregon Medical Association, continues to support important improvements in health care for Oregonians. Among the more prominent recent approvals by the OMA:
- Support for the removal of the non-medical exemption for childhood immunizations from Oregon law
- Support for the view that firearm-related violence represents a public health crisis
- Support for the “One Key Question" initiative which was approved and to be forwarded to AMA House of Delegates for consideration
But let me return to my original thesis: The OPPA can help us do together what we cannot do alone. And yet, the active members of the OPPA cannot accomplish all that you would like us to accomplish without some help from you. I am asking you to consider how you can contribute to the OPPA such that we, as a group of dedicated psychiatrists, are further enriched and inspired as we advance our careers and personal missions of helping others.
What I want from you:
- Your voice: send us your opinions, contact your local elected representatives, and attend our semi-annual business meetings. We need to hear from you so we know how best to represent our membership.
- Consider joining a OPPA Committee: joining a committee doesn't mean you have to do a lot of work. It is often a small time commitment. What is often needed is your ideas, thoughts and opinions followed by specific actions, often limited in scope and time commitment
- The OPPA Political Action Committee is in desperate need of your contribution. Although the legislative committee can accomplish some goals without making campaign contributions, the effectiveness of the committee is sharply limited unless it can also contribute to the campaign efforts of those legislators who understand our needs and who can advocate on our behalf. Please make a donation of $50 or more so we can continue to effectively advocate for you.
- Ask a colleague to join the OPPA: The OPPA aims to represent all psychiatrists in the state. if you know a colleague who is not a member, ask that person to join and make their voice heard within our organization.
- Make your membership in the OPPA known to your local and state politicians and civic leaders: When you make your affiliation with the OPPA known, you multiply your influence with your political leaders and promote new avenues of relationships between our state and local leaders and the OPPA.
It is with gratitude that I reflect on the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association (OPPA) and what it has given to me. I hope you can take a moment to reflect on what the OPPA has done for you.The OPPA strives to serve our entire membership and your ideas are valuable. I invite you to let me know what else this organization can do for you.
Many thanks to each of you for the work you do.
Stephanie Maya Lopez, MD, FAPA
President, Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association