Welcome, everyone, to the 2023 Annual Meeting of the Montgomery County Medical Society (MCMS). I am honored to serve as your 174th President. 174 years: think about that. We’ve stood the test of time. We’ve outlasted rotary phones, Kodak and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Way back in 1849, a group of like-minded, benevolent, mission-driven physicians saw a need, and they banded together to unify and promote the voice of physicians in and around Dayton. 174 years later, we are stronger than ever.
We have weathered two once-in-a-century global pandemics. We’ve thrived through World Wars, global conflicts, the loss of local industry and shifting demographics that this loss precipitated, the rise of profiteering outside interests in health care, the birth of Dr. Google, and yearly existential financial threats to our ability to care for our patients. And here we are – stronger than ever.
Our physician community and MCMS have stood tall through it all. Tonight, we recognize a litany of familiar faces, and many new ones. In 2023 to date, we have added 43 new active physician members, 16 resident physician members and 79 new student members! We are growing, and we are strong. We celebrate 30 contemporary past presidents and 21 OSMA 50-year Award honorees. And we honor the indelible memory of 9 colleagues lost in the last year. May they rest in an eternal peace born from a life well-lived, a mission well-served, and a world left better than they found it. Truly, we stand on the shoulders of giants.
Personally, I am humbled and grateful to be able to count 20 of our 30 contemporary past presidents – a few of our 50-year honorees – as close friends and mentors through my own journey through training, and now in my early years of practice. I say this not to “name-drop,” or “big-time” anyone. Rather, I emphasize this to illustrate the organic vitality that MCMS fosters in our local physician community.
MCMS has always transcended perceived divisions; divisions among hospital systems, specialties, neighborhoods and political ideologies. We have always focused on our shared mission of caring for our neighbors – no matter their demographics or social determinants – in good times and in bad. One of our contemporary past presidents, Dr. William K. Rundell, MD was my surgical attending while rotating as a third-year medical student. I did not end up pursuing surgery as a specialty, but I will never forget one universally applicable lesson that he taught us. Dr. Rundell said that a physician should always remember three things: “1) Our job is to care for the whole patient, 2) Our job is hard, and 3) Hard is never an excuse not to do our job.”
We live in an increasingly divided, disconnected world, evolving in ways that uniquely challenge our profession; a profession dependent on a trusting physician-patient relationship born only from deeply intimate and personal communication, empathy and physical touch. And, as physicians, we don’t have many friends helping us to navigate these unique challenges. The government has set up field offices in our exam rooms. Big tech has placed screens between us and our patients. Big pharma develops miracles; only to price them inaccessibly for most of our patients. Dr. Google didn’t go to medical school, yet still receives the first consultation from many of our patients. Likewise, some members of our physician-led care teams also did not attend medical school, yet still seek to practice medicine without the requisite training. And when our patients finally make it to us, and we use our expertise to recommend what’s best for them, insurance companies step in and say, “No so fast. Your prescription doesn’t support our record, multi-billion dollar profit margin.”
Given all these many obstacles, it can be easy to feel frustrated and dejected. It’s left many of us asking ourselves “What’s the point?” Amid stormy waters, THIS is where MCMS has served as an anchor for so many of us. Through all these existential challenges, MCMS continues to prove its value – exemplified by the generational connections and growing numbers that I mentioned earlier. MCMS continues to set the standard for and with our local physicians, and that standard has never been higher.
When a private-equity backed national staffing firm swooped in at the beginning of the pandemic attempting to root out one of our longest-standing local physician groups, MCMS stood behind its members by rallying physicians across specialties to band together and say: “Not today. Not on our watch. Not here.” Our members won, the group and its standard remain, and our neighbors continue to receive excellent care.
When hospitals turned to non-physicians for their anesthesia services, MCMS blew the whistle – ensuring that our patients knew exactly who was putting them to sleep and, more importantly, who was responsible for waking them up. In addition, we made sure that our previously unaware surgeon members understood the added supervisory liability that they were taking on (but for which they had not trained) as the only physician in the room.
When a global pandemic ravaged our community, threatening our independent physician offices with closure, we leveraged our partnership with Public Health Dayton Montgomery County (PHDMC) to provide our members with the PPE, testing supplies, patient education and coordination necessary to keep their doors open and continue to care for our neighbors in need. What’s more, we convened a Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Task Force, coordinating with the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA) and liaising with the Governor’s office to establish policies and procedures in managing an unprecedented public health crisis for which we had not yet written the playbook. Through this role, we once again served as the unified public face and voice for local physicians when local news stations and newspapers were overwhelmed by a glaring lack of public informational consensus, coming to us for guidance.
When the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a blanket ban on non-compete clauses for physician contracts earlier this year, the Dayton Daily News came to us for comment and context as to how local physicians would be affected by such a ban. And, unprompted, the chair of the Ohio Senate Health Committee followed up to work with us on state-level legislation that might “fill the gaps” for local physicians inevitably left behind by a one-size-fits-all federal ban.
When our American Medical Association (AMA) sought out a microcosm of Americana – an example of what America could be, and of what America should be – they came to Dayton, with the help of MCMS, as a testing site for their expansive Health2047 campaign.
When Senator Miller floated his “Gold Card Bill” as part of a broader strategy toward reducing the dangerous and deadly burden of prior authorization for our patients and practices, our Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA) came to MCMS for advice and support, to ensure that this bill works for physicians in the way it is intended. And locally, when students and residents seek mentorship, networking opportunities, and education on the “real world” curriculum of independent practice, they come to MCMS for this invaluable support.
So when things get hard, remember that you are MCMS, and MCMS is here for you. Stay connected and stay engaged. Go to our website (www.mcmsoh.org) to complete your profile, stay current on important news updates and make use of our digital directory. Stay tuned for a summer blood drive and outdoor events. And contact us if you are interested and available to mentor our members in training who seek your wisdom and guidance. What’s more, when you return to your practices tomorrow, be our voice, and encourage your colleagues who may not be members to sign up and participate. Our collective voice is only as strong as the number of us who participate. Your colleagues may respond that things are just too hard right now, and that there just isn’t enough time to participate. If so, you may humbly respond that – given all our imminent, existential challenges – we would offer that there just isn’t enough time NOT to participate. Further, you may feel free to remind them of Dr. Rundell’s third point: “Hard is never an excuse not to do our job.”
We remain a powerful profession. We will be as powerful as we want to be, as powerful as we choose to be, and as powerful as we PROVE to be. And one thing that has not changed since 1849 is that our power still lies in our commitment to our oath, our commitment to our patients and – most importantly – our commitment to each other.
Onward. John R. Corker, MD FACEP MCMS President