president's message

Adapting and Reexamining the Status Quo

By Mark Twite MB, BChir, FRCP
CCAS President

Dr. Twite
Mark Twite MB, BChir, FRCP

It has been over a year since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. There continues to be a tsunami of suffering around the globe from both the health and economic impacts of the virus. However, with the rapid development and deployment of several vaccines, there is now a bright light at the end of this long dark tunnel. This pandemic has shown us and taught us many things. It has shown us that inequalities in healthcare remain a major problem for the world.

Much like climate change, we have been unable to respond to this pandemic with a coordinated global effort. It seems that there is not enough political will to act on the clear fact that we are all in this together. However, the pandemic has taught us to adapt quickly and reexamine the status quo. Video conferencing is the new ‘normal’ and may even make us more efficient in how we work. Masks, hand washing and social distancing have not only helped to reduce the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 virus but many other viruses as well. The usual influenza and respiratory syncytial virus seasons were almost non-existent this past winter for countries who had the resources for such preventative measures.

The Congenital Cardiac Anesthesia Society (CCAS) has adapted quickly during the pandemic and is emerging stronger than ever before. This has taken a coordinated effort by many people within the Society. I would first like to give a BIG thank you to our outgoing president, Dr. Wanda Miller-Hance, for her outstanding guidance and calm, steady leadership over the past two years. Dr. Miller-Hance has overseen many rapid developments within our Society during the pandemic, which has made the Society more accessible and relevant to our friends and colleagues around the world.

Our first ever virtual CCAS Annual Meeting took place in March 2021. This was the sixteenth annual meeting of our Society. The meeting had 365 registrants from over 30 countries! A huge thank you to the Program Chair, Dr. Susan Nicolson, and the Program Committee, Dr. Greg Latham, Dr. David Vener and Dr. Jamie Schwartz. The meeting content was simply outstanding, and it is reviewed in this newsletter.

There were a couple of meeting highlights that deserve special mention. The inaugural CCAS Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Dr. Dolly Hansen, who is widely revered as one of the first pioneers of our specialty. While Dr. Hansen could not receive the award in person, there was a wonderful video paying tribute to her many achievements by current leaders in our field. A special thank you to Dr. Luis Zabala for leading this effort.

Another first for the Annual Meeting was the inaugural award of the Annual Dolly D. Hansen Research Award given to Dr. Stephanie Grant and her mentor, Dr. Nina Guzzetta, both from Emory University. A special thank you to Dr. David Faraoni and the Research Committee for organizing this award. Congratulations to all our first-time award recipients!

The CCAS educational initiatives extend beyond our annual meeting. The one email I look forward to the most every week is the CCAS ‘Question of the Week’. These questions continue to be extremely well written with detailed answers, including references. The ‘Question of the Week’ is also ‘tweeted’ out on Twitter and will soon be available on the CCAS website in several languages. The ‘Poll of the Month’ helps take the pulse of our specialty with current, and sometimes controversial, topics.

The Communications Committee, now under the leadership of Dr. Stephanie Grant, work hard to provide excellent content and this group has completely redesigned and updated the CCAS website. Thank you to our outgoing chair of this committee, Dr. Viviane Nasr, and the entire committee for the huge amount of work you do to make CCAS easy to access and highly visible on our social media channels; Facebook, Twitter, and Slack.

The education initiatives continue with the excellent CCAS Webinars. In January this year, Drs. Mona Momeni and Tiffany Williams moderated a fantastic webinar on ‘Relevant Articles for Pediatric Cardiac Anesthesiologists Published in 2020.’ The ‘all-star’ cast of speakers presented key articles from five leading journals. The next webinar will be June 12 on ‘Quality & Safety’. Don’t miss it!

The monthly CCAS Trainee Series is proving outstanding and very popular! Thank you to Dr. Viviane Nasr, Dr. Greg Latham, Dr. Rica Buchanan and Dr. Asif Padiyath for your excellent work leading this initiative. The trainees have enjoyed not only excellent educational content but also getting to know one another. The CCAS Mentoring Program which started last year, has been welcomed by trainees and junior faculty and enjoyed by many senior faculty in our Society. Mentoring is a two-way relationship, and this past year has been an extremely important time to build and maintain such relationships. Thank you to Dr. Laura Diaz-Berenstain and her team for leading this wonderful initiative!

Perhaps the biggest announcement for our subspecialty of congenital cardiac anesthesiology is the one-year advanced fellowship has now been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). While there are many details still being worked on by ACGME, SPA and CCAS, this is a historic milestone! A huge thank you to Dr. Viviane Nasr for leading this important initiative and the many leaders in our field for their support and guidance. Program Directors, stay tuned for how this will impact training programs in the near future.

The 2021 CCAS Annual Meeting in March was the official ‘changing of the guard’ for our Board of Directors. Thank you to our outgoing directors: Dr. Gregory Latham, Dr. James Spaeth, Dr. David Vener and Dr. Susan Nicolson. While they may be leaving the board, they are all very much still involved with our Society!

A special thank you to Dr. Nina Guzzetta who finishes as our Immediate Past President. Dr. Guzzetta has given so much to our Society over many years. Like all of our past presidents, Dr. Guzzetta has made a difference and will continue to make a difference in our Society, specialty and the lives of many colleagues and patients.

Welcome to our new Board members: Dr. Rania Abbasi, Dr. Laura Downey, Dr. Laura Diaz-Berenstain, Dr. David Faraoni and Dr. Kelly Machovec. Also welcome to their new roles in our Society, Dr. Luis Zabala, Vice President and Dr. Viviane Nasr, Secretary-Treasurer. I look forward to working with this outstanding team and seeking their collective guidance and wisdom as we continue to move the Society forward.

The strength of our Society comes not only from the Board of Directors, but the many members who work on the committees and special interest groups. You help make the CCAS what it is today – thank you! If you are not yet involved with the Society, please join in. Reach out to these members, the Board of Directors or directly to me. You will be made very welcome!

Finally, CCAS would not have been able to rapidly adapt during the pandemic, have a completely virtual annual meeting and start many successful initiatives without the expertise and endless hours of help from the Ruggles management team. Stewart, Kim, Matt, Jenny, Dana and many others work long hours, quietly and on our behalf, to make sure everything runs smoothly and professionally. This team more than ‘doubled down’ during the pandemic to help the Society remain connected with members around the world.

‘Thank you’ isn’t enough to express our gratitude to this amazing team for working so hard in difficult times for the CCAS. You are all awesome!

Enjoy the summer!

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