There has been recent considerable discussion regarding local-only membership allowance. Pueblo County Medical Society, El Paso County Medical Society, and Denver Medical Society each have local-only memberships as an option. Each of these local-only society memberships currently represent less than 10 percent of total membership, meaning over 90 percent of the other members are members of both the local component and the Colorado Medical Society (CMS).

Some CMS members have viewed this as competing and not “unified” and have advocated for eliminating any local-only memberships. They have expressed a fear that if local-only options were available that this would result in state CMS membership competing with local society only membership and they hope to avoid this conflict.

However, although local-only members make up only a small portion of the total membership for each society, with the loss of the financial stream to these societies, they would no longer be able to function in the capacity that they have. I believe that truly “all politics is local” and losing the ability to do what we have done on a local level would be a substantial loss. I believe that local-only memberships do not compete with CMS membership but compliment it and provide a bridge to broader involvement, giving members who would like to be involved an easy place to start and then as they see the benefit, move into more statewide efforts from there.

It is my hope that CMS will see the unity and benefit that come from not only having but using the local-only option as a bridge to CMS membership. I believe it would be of benefit to write an email or letter to Bryan Campbell and CMS staff expressing concern regarding the loss of the local-only option and would invite you do so. His email is [email protected]. As Mr. Campbell is new, I think he has only heard one side of the issue and has not heard the reasonable concerns. To be clear, it is ultimately not his decision but the board’s; however, I believe that helping him see the other side would be of benefit.

As it currently stands, an amendment was passed at the CMS Board of Directors meeting in which this will not be voted on by CMS BOD until all affected component societies have a chance to present to the CMS BOD. This is to happen on or prior to the March 2021 board meeting.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning about certain hand sanitizers.

Most commercially available alcohol-based hand sanitizers or rubs (ABHSR) contain either ethanol or isopropanol as active ingredients. On June 19, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised consumers not to use any hand sanitizer manufactured by “Eskbiochem SA de CV” in Mexico, due to the potential presence of methanol, a “toxic alcohol”, as an active ingredient, which can cause blindness and/or death when absorbed through the skin or when swallowed. Since then, FDA has identified additional ABHSR products that contain methanol and is working with manufacturers and distributors on a voluntary recall of these products (https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitzers-methanol).

Clinicians and public health officials should advise the public to:

  1. Seek immediate medical attention and contact their poison center (1-800-222-1222) for advice if they have swallowed an ABHSR product or are experiencing symptoms from repeated use of these products that are on the “FDA’s testing and manufacturer’s recalls” list (https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitzers-methanol),
  2. Stop using any ABHSR that are on the “FDA’s testing and manufacturer’s recalls” list because using these methanol-containing products may result in serious adverse health events (e.g., blindness and death), and
  3. NEVER swallow ABHSR and only use them for their intended purpose. Clinicians should be highly suspicious of methanol poisoning when a patient presents with a history of ABHSR ingestion, compatible signs and symptoms, and laboratory findings.

The myriad of benefits breastfeeding has to offer has landed it a spotlight in five objectives in the Heathy People 2020 initiatives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breastfeeding decreases risk of obesity, asthma, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome for infants as well as decreases risk of high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and ovarian and breast cancer for the mother.  While the benefits can be clear, what is often not clear is how to help a breastfeeding mother and infant when they are experiencing complications. 

The Special Supplemental Nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) of Pueblo county is here to help. The Pueblo WIC office has multiple assets to help breastfeeding mothers and infants. On staff is one International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and seven Certified Lactation Counselors (CLC) (one bilingual in sign language and one bilingual in Spanish). 

The office is home to the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program where clients can text questions and concerns regarding breastfeeding and receive help from moms, just like them, who received special training. The pump loan program, through the WIC office, loans high quality, hospital grade pumps to moms on a priority basis. Each mom is assessed by a CLC to offer interventions and education as well as instructions how to effectively use the pump. 

Every year, the Pueblo WIC office celebrates our community’s breastfeeding families as part of the Global Latch On. This year, among other events, the Global Latch On will look very different. Our normal gathering of vendors and activities will be shortened to providing a drive-through version of information and incentives accompanied by a virtual latch at 10:30 am on Aug. 1, 2020. The focus this year is “Every Drop Makes a Difference,” specifically noting the benefits breastfeeding has for a healthy environment, healthy mind, healthy body and healthy community. For more information regarding the event please visit: https://www.facebook.com/pueblowicprogram

Refer families to WIC at: www.coloradowicsignup.org

Call for more information: 719.583.4518 or 719.583.4399

Chelsea Hollowell MS, RD, CLC

Pueblo WIC Program Manager

By Brad Roberts, MD
Emergency medicine physician
PCMS representative on the CMS Board of Directors

Recently I was asked to speak as a panelist during a Colorado Medical Society webinar on smoking and COVID-19. As part of the preparation I read lay news articles from outlets such as Yahoo News, VICE, CNN, and other online sources found through a Google search. I also read multiple articles from peer reviewed journals from a PubMed search. 

My biggest takeaway surprised me: It became very clear that as physicians we need to make sure we are looking at true peer reviewed research and look at it with the critical eye we were taught to use at journal clubs during residency. While physicians must understand what the public is seeing, we need to be able to see through much of the popular press and be able to have an understanding of what is true evidence-based medicine compared with what is written as a quick article to entice readership. 

Ultimately the peer reviewed studies suggested that more research was needed to further look into why there were possibly fewer smokers admitted to certain hospitals than would have been expected. The researchers acknowledged small sample sizes and confounders that may be present, suggesting only an interesting finding that may benefit from further research. They were careful to state that patients should still be encouraged to stop smoking. The popular press, however, took this to state smoking was protective from COVID-19, which was not what the researchers had even implied. 

It also was clear from my reading of the peer reviewed research that smokers with COVID-19 were 2.4 times more likely to go to the ICU, be intubated, or die with complications from COVID-19 than non-smokers. Clearly, now more than ever, patients should be encouraged to make healthy lifestyle choices such as stopping smoking. Implying smoking was protective from COVID-19 was not only premature and likely incorrect but also harmful. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. and the world and causes far more morbidity and mortality than COVID-19.  I have seen these same misleading popular press articles in the cannabis discussion as well.

It is imperative that we as physicians are able to understand and interpret scientific literature through the appropriate lens of the education we were able to receive. 

May 06, 2020
Category: Uncategorized
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By Vinh Chung, MD, Dermatologist/Mohs Surgeon, Colorado Springs

The patient-doctor relationship has been ingrained through our long medical training and remains at the center of our decisions in daily practice. Based upon trust, this relationship demands that we make decisions that are always in the best interest of the patient. The coronavirus pandemic has brought to the forefront another type of critical relationship – the staff-doctor relationship. While antagonistic staff-doctor relationships are notoriously common and can drive physicians to burnout, they do not have to be this way. When healthy, the doctor’s relationship with staff can be an incredible source of pride and joy.

After executive orders suddenly limited medical services and procedures, the revenues of our medical practice dipped by 90 percent. This unsustainable situation had no end in sight. The cash reserves in our practice were bleeding out and would be depleted if changes were not made immediately. Even before any federal loans or financial assistance became available, our leadership team took action.

We committed to follow our motto that “leaders eat last.” Financial setbacks are scary for everyone, but we recognized that our hourly employees have it much worse. They need their paychecks to buy groceries and to pay rent, so we committed to protect them. Starting from the top down, our executive team took an 80-100 percent cut in our salaries. The rest of the medical providers also voluntarily took significant pay cuts. After we announced our decision, other staff members stepped up and followed suit. Our managers asked to “work more and get paid less.” Some staff members even volunteered to work for free. Across our medical practice, team members who earned the most sacrificed in order to protect those who earned the least.

Watching our team members care for each other is an incredibly beautiful moment that I’ll never forget. I’ve always been proud of our staff because of their excellent work. This time I’ve been humbled by their character. Generosity, selflessness, and the desire to protect one another flourished and became so much more contagious than fear or self-preservation.

Our practice has since received the Medicare stimulus payment and funding from the Paycheck Protection Program, which will buy us more time as we ride out the pandemic. While we had to accelerate departures for team members who were already transitioning out, we have not had to lay anyone off. Two-thirds of our tribe volunteered to furlough, cut pay or reduce hours. There are glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel, and we really do believe we can make it through this crisis with our entire team intact. When we make it to the other side, we plan to restore everyone’s pay and hours in the reverse order from bottom to top. The leaders will eat last.

Similar to the patient-doctor relationship, the physician’s relationship with staff is based upon trust that must be earned. When trust is absent, any relationship can become a thorn in our side or an obstacle we must work around. These unhealthy relationships with staff and administrators are often the root cause of physician burnout. They must be addressed if physicians want to have fulfilling careers.

There is no better way to earn trust than to walk with our staff through a crisis. When our staff know that we are willing to protect them, they will do the same for us. And I believe wholeheartedly that in the long run, our patients will be better cared for as a result.

Vinh Chung, MD, works for Vanguard Skin Specialists in Colorado Springs, Colo. He has a passion for instilling meaning and purpose into the workplace. He can be reached at [email protected].

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