A Unified Physician Voice
A Unified Physician Voice

Your February 2020 NEWSLETTER  

From the President

Cold and flu season are upon us again and a novel respiratory disease has inserted itself into our differentials. The U.S. government and WHO both declared 2019 Novel Coronavirus to be a public health emergency in late January, now rebranded to COVID-19.  An article in the NYTimes “Inside the Race to Contain America’s First Coronavirus Case” details some of the public health measures taken by Snohomish and King County public health departments in mid-January. Interestingly, equipment and facilities in Everett designed for potential quarantine of Ebola patients were put to use for the first time in isolating the index case. Please consult this link for up-to-date healthcare provider information. Sanofi shares were up this week based on the news that COVID-19 vaccine development is underway,  while front line clinicians address misinformation regarding existing vaccines. 

At the time of this writing, the WHO, “does not recommend any travel or trade restriction based on the current information available.”  International governments have been varied in their approach to conveying concerns about the virus, at times potentially in relation to their economic and political ties to China. The death of a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong sparked calls for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive to halt all flights from Mainland China.  Nearly 8,000 members of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, which includes physicians and other government healthcare workers, committed to a 5-day strike which began February 3rd to bring additional political force to their concerns regarding keeping borders open.
Healthcare worker strikes have been a hot topic in King County this month with Democratic national candidates weighing in our local healthcare environment.  Hence it’s a good time to review a few related inquiries.

Do doctors actually go on strike?
This has occurred in many different countries. Tens of thousands of junior doctors in the UK held a series of strikes in 2016 as directed by the British Medical Association representing them; the final strike included emergency services.  Primary concerns were safe staffing and pay for junior doctors. Physicians in Spain have had multiple strikes, with public support, against austerity and privatization of their hospitals and health systems. In India, in 2019  junior doctors went on strike over workplace safety issues. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for physicians to be attacked by family members after a bad outcome, whether preventable or not.   

Have doctors gone on strike in the United States?
Yes. Resident groups have taken strike action over what they consider poor resources in urban county hospitals including in New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago, but these strikes are not new. Calls for tort reform at the turn of the century led to doctors closing their doors in many states with a notable 5-day job action occurring in New Jersey.  During the NJ strike, a majority of physicians were reported to have participated with thousands attending associated rallies.   

Can doctors form a union?
Yes. King and Pierce County share the only group of unionized private practice physicians in the state, currently organized under the Union of American Physicians and Dentists.  Registration with the National Labor Board of Relations was undertaken in 2016 and 2017 for the involved groups with additional legal support on related issues.

What do professional societies say about physicians striking?  
The AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs published the opinion that “physicians should refrain from the use of the strike as a bargaining tactic.”  The Am. College of Physicians also dissuade physicians from taking strike action.  Notably, their opinion is based on an article written in 2001 and ongoing changes in the healthcare landscape may warrant further review to confirm or modify the existing policy.  A recent PubMed listings suggest a shift in attitudes since 2001.  Additionally, state and county medical societies have expressed opinions contrary to those above. The Medical Society of New Jersey resolved to organize its state’s action just as national medical societies in other countries have taken on this role.  

What are the ethical concerns of physician strike action?
The commitment to patients and how to best to support that effort in the short and long term is behind any discussions on the issue. 

What do you and the King County Medical Society suggest on the topic?
KCMS strongly supports physicians advocating for their patients and the profession.  As citizens of a democracy and members of a physician-led organization, no topic is too taboo for discussion by our Board of Trustees. Our board currently consists of 18 physician members who aim to bring to light the diverse viewpoints throughout the county.  We are not currently aware of any specific attempts by physicians to organize and would have to review and comment on a case by case basis.  

Our political efforts have been in line with suggestions by the ACP that “physicians should individually and collectively find advocacy alternatives, such as lobbying lawmakers and working to educate the public, patient groups, and policymakers about their concerns.”  
We are actively working on all of these angles and identifying and influencing policymakers in the broadest sense of the word while bringing physicians out of their comfort zones and into these spheres.  

From the CEO

Many of the decisions that will impact the way you provide care for your patients are decided in a legislative arena that sometimes feels full of smoke and mirrors. When looking at the healthcare policy landscape, you'll notice the activities of organizations that are working for powerful interest groups, disgruntled patients or large corporations. This leaves many physicians asking, "Who is working FOR ME?". The King County Medical Society is working for YOU. 
King County Medical Society member voices ARE being heard on a wide range of issues:
  1. firearm injury prevention, 
  2. amending the B&O taxation of solo practitioners,
  3. testing for lead in school water supplies,
  4. maintaining access to reproductive healthcare,  
  5. increasing the oversight of the Washington Medical Commission, and
  6. endorsing the extension of Apple Health care (Medicaid) to cover a full 12 months postpartum.
These are just a few of the vital issues being voted on during this legislative session by elected officials in Washington state. While I have traveled to Olympia repeatedly, the most powerful voice is YOURS. At our recent Board of Trustees meeting, I heard,  “We are doing SUCH important work. How do we get more physicians to join and advocate with us? What are the barriers?” That’s a question I’m hoping to answer, but I have a few guesses: 
  • Your lives are busy and your time is scarce,
  • Doctors are trained to keep personal opinions to themselves, an advocate's agenda can conflict with the priorities of the institutions you work for and there may be a fear of political fallout,
  • Medicine has a passive-voice-verb construction culture which is the opposite of the proactive, declarative nature of advocacy.
We encourage you to work with the King County Medical Society to make the best use of the little time you do have to enact positive change. Please consider five (5) steps to have your voice heard:
1.    Harness Your Powerful Voice and Know That It Is Respected
Legislators respect that you know the medical aspects of issues better than anyone.
2.    Get to Know Your Elected Officials
We welcome the opportunity to introduce you to your legislators where you live and practice.
3.    Become Active on Social Media 
I know… but please share/retweet/or 'like' KCMS info Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
4.    Share Your Story With Us
KCMS staff can help you to formulate your ideas into Op-Eds, podcasts, blogs and more.
5.    Join or Renew King County Medical Society Membership – and grab a friend!
For 132 years, KCMS has represented physicians as the recognized voice of the medical profession. Together, we are stronger.  Join (or renew) today.
Thank you for all you do! 

Legislative Action Alerts

KCMS Board Endorses SB 6288: Creating an Office for Firearm Injury Prevention
Read the Op-Ed written by Dr's Gregory Engel and Amish Dave here 
Extend Apple Health care to cover 12 months postpartum, not ending at 60 days.
KCMS Board of Trustees voted to endorse this legislation (SB 6128). This legislation passed unanimously off the Senate floor on Monday and moves on to the House!
Please take a moment to click the buttons below and help get the word heard. 
Senate Bill 6288
Senate Bill 6128
Direct Link to Economic Opportunity Institute

Members on the Move

Aileen Mickey, MD, FCCP

Dr. Mickey is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, and critical care medicine.  After a decade of clinical practice at EvergreenHealth, she has recently transitioned into the CMO position for the EvergreenHealth Medical Group. Dr. Mickey has a special interest in physician leadership development and we are excited to have her collaborating with us in promoting KCMS in King County East!

Tavinder Basra MD

Dr. Basra appreciates the opportunity to apply his training to the care of complex internal medicine patients. Dr. Basar has the unique pleasure of practicing as an IM hospitalist with his wife, Karen Basra ARNP, as they raise two young boys and just celebrated 10 years of clinical practice in the Pacific Northwest.  

New Members - we are delighted to have you!

Sowmya Amin - 

Dr. Amin is a Family Medicine Specialist in Seattle.

Debra Chaput

Dr. Chaput is a Family Medicine Specialist in Kirkland.

Bolajoko Adeniyi

Dr. Adeniyi is board certified in internal medicine and has experience in primary care, post-acute care, inpatient psychiatric care and hospitalist work.

Upcoming Events

KCMS is proud of the work Dr. Mark Vossler, a KCMS Delegate and WPSR President, is doing regarding the health impacts of climate change.

Public Health Stakeholder Group

Retired and actively practicing healthcare providers, please consider joining our Public Health Seattle & King County Healthcare Stakeholder Group and shape policy for thousands of children.
We have created a community-driven stakeholder group to create strategies to prevent lead poisoning. WE NEED YOUR HELP to provide context and participate in conversations that are essential for policy development. This diverse group consists of a wide range of healthcare professionals. Full attendance not necessary.
These meetings dates are the evenings of (dinner provided):

1   Monday, March 2nd 
2.  Tuesday, April 7th
3.  Monday, May 4th
If you have any questions, please contact Salem Adisu at sadisu@kcmsociety.org

In Memorium 

(Please click on their names for their full obituaries)
Desmond Sweeney (no obituary found)
Contact Us
info@kcmsociety.org   | 206.621.9396
200 Broadway Suite 200 | Seattle, WA 98122 United States
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