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This is the last report I will write as your secretary, after doing the job for over 7 of the last 10 years, if I’ve counted correctly.  I hope I’ve been of use.  While I will no longer be part of the NMSAAM board, I intend to be very active in pushing for our legislative priorities in the 2021 session, in accordance with whatever decisions the community of members makes.

Community is always my priority for our association and our profession.  I am pleased and proud that we have sustained strong connections among DOMs in our state, and that NMSAAM has been a big part of building representation for us all at the national level. We were able to grow our NMSAAM membership quite a bit during the past year, and I’m grateful to all who have stepped up to be involved.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the nature of my work as secretary has tended to mire me in day-to-day details and made it more difficult to pay attention to the big picture and to long-term priorities— though those housekeeping types of things did have to get done, of course. I hope to be able to step back a bit now and be able to contribute in a different way.

The biggest part of the “miring” in the past couple of years has been the website, or rather, the succession of three websites we’ve had to deal with building and maintaining within two years.  You all know the story of how our earlier site inexplicably disappeared and we had to come up with a new one in a hurry, then had to start over again with the ASA site design. It was challenging for all of us on the website committee, but especially for Dr. Yvonne Walston, who put in the most hours. There has been another series of web dramas more recently, but I am cautiously optimistic that things will function more smoothly now.  With Dr. Steven Malins taking over as our official webmaster, we have well-trained eyes to keep watch on the site going forward. We have learned a great deal, and we hope we are leaving future volunteers with a much easier job.  You’ve all been wonderfully patient with us, and we appreciate it!

We’ve had the privilege of welcoming a bunch of new members lately, as well as having most established members continue.  The website, as long as it works as it’s supposed to, is a huge help with that. Dr. Jennifer Rysanek stepped up to be the membership chair in the past year and keep up correspondence with current and former members.

I’ve worried that I was annoying people with too many emails, and have tried to balance the amount of information in each message with the number of e-blasts.  Our email provider, MailChimp, tells us that we have a very engaged audience, with 72% of you opening messages all or most of the time.  That’s awesome!  We’ll continue to do our best to provide you with timely and useful information.  We may not always have e-dresses for every DOM, but we update our records as often as possible.  If you know a new licensee who isn’t connected with us, please help them get in touch.

A lot of the problems that have plagued our profession over many years are still the same problems— closed panels and lack of appropriate reimbursement from insurers, exclusion from Medicare and Medicaid, being marginalized by mainstream medicine, other types of practitioners encroaching on our scope of practice.  I’m sad that I personally and NMSAAM as a group have not been able to do more to solve these vexing issues.  However, in the past year there has been a bit more movement toward what most DOMs would like to see happen, and I do feel more hopeful.

Earlier in the COVID-19 crisis, we found ourselves in a confusing situation, with the Department of Health seeming to forget that our profession existed and neglecting to give rules or guidance for us to reopen our practices.

Earlier in the COVID-19 crisis, we found ourselves in a confusing situation, with the Department of Health seeming to forget that our profession existed and neglecting to give rules or guidance for us to reopen our practices.  A number of DOMs called the DOH, and couldn’t get a useful response; I’m told that the personnel there were totally overwhelmed.  They seemed to be lumping us in with dentists, which didn’t make much sense.  (The chiropractors had gotten themselves labeled as “essential” on a national level.  We didn’t think it made sense to push for essential status, as it could have made it impossible for DOMs who shut down to collect unemployment or other relief payments.) 

I had been attending weekly UNM COVID-19 ECHO meetings online, and was able to contact a DOH employee who was one of the presenters.  She put me in touch with Dr. Rohini McKee, who was on the Medical Advisory Team.  Dr. Nityamo Lian and I described how our practices work and what would make sense for us to have in place to reopen, and Dr. McKee took that information to the MAT.  Once we started the process, it went very quickly, and we were all authorized to reopen during the third week of May.  Dr. McKee was kind and supportive, and emphasized how important it was for us to be available for our patients, especially during such a stressful time.

This was a great lesson about how important it is to network and to meet as many people in the health care world as we can.  We all need to make and share contacts with folks who can get things done.

So we have made ourselves a little more visible to the powers that be. When I talk with people involved with the Department of Health, legislators, etc., I find that they may not understand precisely what we do, but they know we do something valuable, and overall they are very well-disposed toward us.  Other medical professionals generally seem to have a positive attitude toward us as well.  That’s a result of the good work we all do every day, and the reports our patients give to people they know.

I’m looking forward to being able to attend to some other kinds of efforts, but at the same time, it will be a little hard to let go.  I’ll still be around to help the next secretary figure out how to get these tasks done.  With any luck, that person will figure out better methods than I’ve come up with.  I’m sure NMSAAM will be in good hands.