ACOG President Mark DeFrancesco, MD, MBA, FACOG, didn’t plan this year’s President’s Program under a single, unifying theme. Instead, he sought to bring top speakers with different experiences together to share interesting and important ideas with Annual Meeting attendees.
Dr. DeFrancesco said this year’s program touches both on the themes of his 2015 inaugural address that addressed frustrations in how the practice of medicine has changed in the last three or four decades and the theme of the 2016 Annual Meeting, “Take Charge of Health Care.”
The President’s Program — and many of the meeting topics — will help attendees better understand the challenges and frustrations while also taking more responsibility for the overall health of their patients to both improve patients’ lives and increase physician satisfaction.
“Most of us went into medicine to save lives and do good,” he said. “We can do so much more good if we can encompass more of a comprehensive approach to women’s health care.”
The Opening Ceremonies and The President’s Program takes place from 8 to 10:15 am Saturday and features remarks from Dr. DeFrancesco about ACOG’s past year and a look at strategic planning, followed by lectures from the three presenters selected by Dr. DeFrancesco:
Dr. Owen Korn, MD, “The Four Horsemen of the Medical System Apocalypse”
While at a meeting in Chile, Dr. DeFrancesco found Dr. Korn, who was delivering a talk similar to the one he’ll deliver at the Annual Meeting, as this year’s Hale Lecture presenter. Dr. Korn, a practicing general surgeon in his home country, has become a noted commentator in the health care field about going beyond pure science and relating on a more humanistic level.
During “The Four Horsemen of the Medical System Apocalypse,” Dr. Korn will offer a somewhat contrarian and politically incorrect view of some of the current trends in health care worldwide. Attendees should expect an entertaining presentation that, while exaggerated in some respects, is rooted in facts that will help attendees really think about the issues of the day.
“People shouldn’t walk out of there thinking that we’re going to get rid of our EMRs, for instance, but the point is that it’s really recognizing the challenges that we’re facing, and it’s helpful to realize that these are health care challenges all around the world, not just here,” Dr. DeFrancesco said.
Erin Elizabeth Tracy, MD, MPH, “Trafficking and Misogyny”
With human trafficking at epidemic proportions, Dr. DeFrancesco decided to use the “bully pulpit” of the President’s Program to educate ACOG members about their unique opportunity to help identify and help victims.
Dr. Tracy, who will deliver The Anna Marie D’Amico Lecture, has worked with Dr. DeFrancesco in the past on District 1 concerns and various committees. The obstetrician and gynecologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital has written and spoken about trafficking and misogyny several times.
“People think that this is just something you see on television and doesn’t really happen in our country, but we will focus on things to look for in your practice when something is happening right under your nose and you may not know it — a few clinical pearls or tips to raise our index of suspicion,” Dr. DeFrancesco said.
This year’s D’Amico lecture topic connects with another traditional Annual Meeting event, the Spouse Event, which will focus on human trafficking.
Dr. DeFrancesco’s wife, Helen, the official host for the Spouse Event, has taken an interest in the issue, and their daughter Bethany, an attorney in Washington, D.C., has done pro bono work in the field. Mrs. DeFrancesco felt it was time for the traditional Spouse Event to evolve from a “social” event to a more “socially conscious” program that’s open to spouses and all meeting attendees, so everybody is encouraged to attend.
The Monday afternoon session will feature representatives of the Tahirih Justice Center, a national organization dedicated to protecting immigrant women and girls from gender-based violence.
“It should be a very exciting program and extremely relevant,” Dr. DeFrancesco said. “I’m so proud that Helen and Bethany were so involved with originating and promoting this topic.”
Balazs Bodai, MD, “The Power of One”
Dr. DeFrancesco wanted to end the President’s Program on a positive and uplifting note, so The Jim and Midge Breeden Lecture will feature Dr. Bodai, who will share his story about creating the Breast Cancer Research Stamp.
After escaping his homeland after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Dr. Bodai became one of the leading cancer surgeons in the United States and today directs the Breast Health Center at Keizer Permanente in Sacramento, CA, recognized nationally as a Center of Excellence.
His work led the U.S. Postal Service to create the first fundraising stamp. The cost of a fundraising stamp is a penny or more than a standard stamp, with the extra cost going to research. So far, more than $85 million has been raised since the stamps became available in 1998 after years of work to gain approval. Similar programs have now been launched in other countries.
“It’s very exciting because he talks about the nitty-gritty: Walking the halls of Congress, promoting his message,” Dr. DeFrancesco said. “It gives us two messages: One, that one person alone can get something accomplished and start a ball rolling; and two, it’s something you can transfer to other issues. It’s not just about stamps for research, but you can apply his same approach to many other issues.”