Spring 2021 Issue
D. Nicole Deal, MD
It has been an honor and privilege to serve as President of your Virginia Orthopaedic Society this past year. In my last presidential address, I reflect on what has been a very challenging year, and my heart goes out to those personally affected by COVID-19 and those who lost loved ones to this devastating virus. In my role as your president, I have had a seat at the table for many discussions regarding how COVID has affected our practices; from the financial impact on us as surgeons and on our practices, the impact on our employees and the legal ramifications of caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Your VOS Board is honored to serve you, along with our staff and the OrthoPAC, and are working even harder in this unprecedented time to continue to advocate for Orthopaedic Surgeons in the Commonwealth. We are continuing to monitor the Commonwealth’s response to COVID-19, in particular with regards to vaccinations, and are continuously being updated and informed about issues that affect all of us from a health, legal and economic standpoint. As our clinics and ORs are now at full capacity with robust precautions in place, businesses begin to reopen and we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We have had a very active legislative year and I have strived, with help from our lobbyists Lauren Schmitt and Cal Whitehead, to keep our members up to date and emphasize the policy activities with which the society has been actively involved. Our biggest victory this session was defeating SB 1107, that would have repealed the current cap on medical malpractice monetary rewards in Virginia. In 2012, Virginia passed a law capping the medical malpractice monetary reward for 20 years. This was an agreement between the Medical Society of Virginia and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association. For those interested in information on the Malpractice Cap Agreement passed in 2012, click HERE. Unfortunately, Senator Bill Stanley introduced legislation this year to undo that cap. We were able to defeat this bill, but the legislators made it clear that they will try again next year and that they believe there are issues with the current system. It will be our top priority over the next year to educate legislators on why the cap is necessary and should not be changed.
In addition, we were able to once again defeat legislation that would have allowed naturopathic providers to be licensed in Virginia, to defeat legislation that would have allowed nurse practitioners to practice independently after only two years of clinical experience (current law is five years) and to defeat legislation requiring physicians to communicate with attorneys when patients are involved in litigation. We were also able to negotiate a compromise with the Virginia Physical Therapy Association. Currently a physical therapist may treat a patient without a physician referral for 30 days, the physical therapy community were requesting an extended time period, but we were able to reach a compromise with them on 60 days. Thank you to everyone who contacted their legislators about these bills and advocated for our profession and patients. Before you know it, it will be time to start planning for 2022. There are already many workgroups and studies planned for this summer and fall on issues we followed.
I ask that you renew your VOS membership HERE. VOS dues are $300 and it is a minimal price to pay for the access this society gives you at the legislative table. Also please encourage your colleagues and practice partners to renew their membership. Please visit our VOS website to view past issues of the newsletter covering key legislative issues. The 74th Annual Meeting scheduled for April 30-May 1, 2021 will be held virtually due to the impact of COVID-19. Please register HERE. We are looking forward to an excellent, but abbreviated, meeting this year with a robust agenda planned by our program committee, Drs. Keith Bachmann, Jennifer Vanderbeck and Samuel Robinson. We are looking forward to an in person meeting to be held at the beautiful Greenbrier resort next year April 29 - May 1, 2022.
In conclusion, serving as President of the VOS has been one the most rewarding ventures of my orthopaedic career, especially with regards to navigating these challenging times during the pandemic. It has been my absolute honor to serve you all this past year, and I look forward to seeing all of you virtually April 30-May 1 for a robust meeting and to celebrate our successes as a society during this very challenging year.
April 30 - May 1, 2021