Minutes for 6/14/20 NMSAAM Board Meeting

by | Aug 3, 2020 | NMSAAM Board | 0 comments

This meeting was held on Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In attendance:  John Scott, Bernadette Lujan, Yvonne Walston, Ann Losee, Amanda Wheat, Jennifer Rysanek

Not attending:  Steven Malins, Yvette Arellano

PR Committee member Tim Walsh was also planning to attend but was not present.

Steve Malins reports by text that he submitted the tax filing last month as required.  He will send us a report in the next two days.  He said we have received about 6 membership payments recently.

All present are in agreement that crucial documents, access to the bank account, passwords and any other information needed to continue to operate as an association must be shared between at least two board members, in case of an officer being incapacitated.

New business

Should DOMs take action to be included in reimbursement for telemedicine by insurers?

We know that Presbyterian had denied reimbursement early in the pandemic, while BCBSNM has paid under at least some circumstances, and we are told that Cigna has as well.  We do not have any more current information.  Amanda Wheat will call Presbyterian and ask if their stance has changed.

Should DOMs be able to prescribe medical cannabis?  Since it is botanical, why couldn’t we?  Are DOMs interested?  Should we work to encourage this?

Diane Polasky is offering medical cannabis evaluations in her clinic— it looks like DOMs can get training and do this.  Her website states that she is “identified and accepted by the NMDOH as a Medical Cannabis Evaluating physician.”  Ann Losee will write to Diane and ask her about this.

John Scott talked with Brian Flamm, DOM, who has been developing a cannabis manufacturing business.  (Golden Flower sells CBD products.)

Should NMSAAM hire a lobbyist?  Or can we continue as “citizen lobbyists”?

Would Linda Siegle be available, or is she overextended and/or would she have a conflict of interest, even though she is much in favor of DOMs?

Rick Miera?  He would be ideal if we could afford him.  Would Monica Luna know anyone?  Since we have few bills likely to take a lobbyist’s attention, we may be able to pay less for part of their time.

One way or the other, we would need to come up with money to pay them.  Lobbyist Peter Mallery cost AOMANM about $12,000 a year toward the end.  (John’s association paid a former Speaker of the House $90,000 in Texas in 1983.)  Bernadette says that about $25-30,000 per year is a typical fee.

We may know more about the 2021 session after the special session this week.  We have no way of knowing whether it will even be possible to go to the Roundhouse in person at that time.  With the budget situation as it exists, it may be that the legislature is not going to be able to entertain anything new or “extra.”

Possible events and perks for members

Bernadette points out that we still have so much trouble energizing our own profession to do anything; our internal issues still need a lot of attention.

Jennifer went to a FSOMA event; they regularly hold events like webinars about special techniques.  Can we do more like that?  Ann suggests doing short presentations, like an hour, free, for members only, with recordings and written info available; no CEUs involved.  In its early days NMSAAM held evening get-togethers at a hotel to discuss cases and socialize, which fizzled out after a few months, but it would be easier to get to online events and might attract more people.  We should ask what members want to see, and would need to find experts interested in presenting.

Yvonne moved that we pay for the year for a Zoom account that would allow for meetings and webinars, since free accounts only allow for 40 minutes of meeting time.

Would another platform such as Go to Meeting allow us to join as an organization rather than Yvonne having to join as an individual?  We will hold off till we find out.  (We could possibly do 40-minute free sessions, take a break and log back on.)

Yvonne needs to get a check from Steve, since she paid for this month of Zoom herself.

Can we get a list of which NM DOMs are attending the ACA/NCCAOM town halls?

Annual meeting

David Riley’s pitch for acupuncturists to do case studies, and education on how to do it? This sounds worthwhile to most of the board to ask him about.

Bernadette suggests education on our businesses surviving this period of time, with the loans etc.  We don’t know what the situation will be like in the fall.

Survey of DOMs on how they are doing— problems with unemployment insurance?  (Some self-employed people are being told by the state that they must repay a large part of the unemployment payments they have received.  It’s unclear whether DOMs are being affected this way.) Enough PPE?  Patients returning or not?  John will work on survey questions.

Having CEU classes at the annual meeting brought in more people for the classes but they didn’t all stay.

Develop a public education strategy

What is next for our relationship with PrAG? Yvonne and John met with Dana before the pandemic and gave a very impressive power point presentation on his marketing plan for NMSAAM. John still thinks that we have considerable public education that needs to happen. John is not certain the best way forward. Perhaps, Dana can repeat the presentation at our September Annual Meeting.

Committee Progress Reports

The pandemic has not been good for expanding committee membership.

Website Committee:

For the most part, the site is working.  We still have some glitches, especially regarding confusion over membership categories, since our way of offering a discount for first-year members did not fit with ASA’s categories well.  The site still does not send an email to nmsocaam@gmail.com as it is supposed to when a member joins or renews, despite many efforts to fix this.

Public Relations Committee:

Possible messaging to current and former members to try to get them to show up for the annual meeting.

Yvette Arellano and Tim Walsh were supposed to be working on press releases, but during the shutdown this did not happen.  They did not attend today’s meeting.

John and the PR committee met with Dana Koller regarding data he had already gathered.  We have a powerpoint of his presentation.  John checked in with him last week.  Dana is not sure whether PRaG is going to survive the pandemic shutdown, and he has his other businesses to attend to.

The landing page Dana developed no longer shows up in web searches, as of today.  We paid for this as a product and it should still exist whether or not Dana is still under contract with us.  John will ask him about this.  The landing page was the main thing we obtained from our payments to him.

Ann volunteered that if Elene writes a brief press release, she will try to get it out to various media outlets, the NM Medical Society, and the Hospital Association.

Bernadette says that UNM’s communication department may be interested in working with us because students need projects; we could possibly give them a stipend if so.  NM Broadcasters Association has a list of radio station contacts.  The Medical Society has specialty societies, such as one for orthopedics, that we could contact— as one society to another.  NPs’ and PAs’ associations?  They are the main providers of primary care, especially in rural areas.

Since DOH seemed to know very little about us, we could contact various medical organizations.  We could really use personal connections, if anyone can think of any contacts they may have.

In our press releases, we will emphasize that we are back in practice and taking every possible COVID-19 precaution— as a dental practice said recently, “safer than ever.”  Also that we can help with stress and mental health.  Mention that telemedicine may be available.  A letter to the Medical Society etc. will be different from a general press release.

Once we have a structure in place for sending press releases, we need to do them every 3 months.

Legislative Committee:

It is not yet clear what will be needed for the 2021 session.

Insurance Committee:

Amanda contacted Monica Luna about getting a meeting with the new Superintendent of Insurance, to discuss lack of access to insurance panels and being treated as specialists in terms of copays, but when the COVID-19 crisis hit, this fell by the wayside.  Monica’s friend ended up not being the person picked as superintendent.

Membership Committee:

As with everything else, Jennifer Rysanek’s work as membership chair dropped off during the shutdown, but we have still gained new members, and the website is sending email reminders to renew.  The website is somewhat unclear about where to click to renew— one must click on “Join.”

Bernadette and John want the spreadsheet listing all our members so that they can see who is not on the list and contact friends who are not members.  They don’t think the Find an Acupuncturist list at nmsaam.org is convenient for this purpose.

Communications Committee:

Steve has investigated ways to develop discussion groups online, about where our profession is going (which could dovetail with Jennifer’s idea about webinars for members).

When possible, we should still hold social events.

Officers’ and other reports

President’s Report by John Scott

Our momentum and our path ahead looked very promising at our last board meeting. Then March came bringing the pandemic into our local world. First, there was uncertainty. Then there was the stay at home orders business shutdowns. Through it all NMSAAM performed very well for our NM DOMs. Elene and Yvonne were brilliant in getting essential information out to our contacts. It has been insane. Now DOMs are going back to work with the new protocols. The reports that I am getting indicate that practices are going at about 50%. A number of our regular committee tasks have been in a kind of limbo. Hopefully, they can reengage as we ease into the world again.

Temporary Licensure:

I have been in communication with Ehrland Truitt and Neil Sirwinski and Selah Chamberlain regarding the process of obtaining Temporary Licenses for teachers from Japan and other places for weekend seminars. Ehrland and Neil have found the present process unnecessarily burdensome. Ehrland has taken on the task of developing language for a proposed rule change under Selah’s urging. I will remain in communication with our friends on this matter.

The ASA all-day Zoom meeting was very productive but grueling. I continue to be super impressed with what ASA has been able to accomplish with very little in resources.

2021: The 2021 legislative session marks 40 years since the 1981 session when we achieved legal status for acupuncture in New Mexico! We must do something special to celebrate this fact.

The pandemic has revealed a couple of facts. The chiropractors had the political weight to be considered essential and we do not. While I thought it was irresponsible to perform such close contact work while a highly contagious virus was on the rampage with still so much that was unknown the fact that they had a status that we do not is vexing.

Another fact that we have discovered is that the DOH does not have sufficient awareness of who we are what we what offer to our fellow New Mexicans. What our medicine has to offer in the way of comprehensive health care that should be integrated and accessible to all New Mexicans in all social and economic constituencies.

Should we consider hiring a professional lobbyist to help us achieve the status that we deserve? Perhaps this will give us additional motivation for DOMs to become members and support NMSAAM.

Should we use a platform like Base Camp to facilitate discussion with our members and non-members?

Secretary’s report by Elene Gusch

As usual, my main activity has been writing a lot of emails.  We have had a couple more ads placed in e-blasts recently.  These ads bring in enough money over time to be well worth doing. One DOM got irate about the inclusion of paid ads a couple of weeks ago, and unsubscribed in a huff.  It may be that others also feel that way, but overall there seems to be a positive response to our messages.

Our efforts to keep DOMs informed during the shutdown appeared to raise awareness of NMSAAM’s existence and generate some enthusiasm.  We received a few inquiries about membership.  Since sometimes new members pay by check, I am not sure whether all of these resulted in actual membership signups.

The website still does not send me an email when someone joins or renews.  On 6/12/20, I checked to see if there were new members.  I found that there was one new member and a number of renewals.  A prospective member had tried repeatedly to join through the site and had apparently not had her payment go through.  A current member’s renewal payment also did not go through.  I asked Jennifer Rysanek to contact these people.  Other payments after these were successful, so it does not appear that there is a consistent problem with PayPal or Paid Memberships Pro.  This is maddening, especially when we have spent so much time and money to make the site work.

Also on 6/12, I called the office of AG Hector Balderas, because we never received acknowledgement of our letter to him, sent in December 2019.  I had let this slide because first there were the holidays and then the beginning of the pandemic.  It seemed like it might take a long time for our case to float to the top of the pile and be dealt with even in “normal” times, but this clearly had been too long.  A very pleasant woman called back.  She was unable to find a record of our letter but was going to continue to research and get back to me on Monday, 6/15.

I found the copy of our letter to the AG while reorganizing the Secretary Box, so was reminded to check on it.  The Box is now in good shape for the next secretary to use.  I am very concerned about finding someone to do the secretary job, and with our inability to meet in the physical world, this seems even more difficult.

Dividing work between the secretary, a Membership Chair, and a PR Committee seems very helpful.  It would be even more helpful to be able to divest most routine work on the website, such as the aforementioned checking on members, from the secretary’s job, leaving the secretary to handle correspondence and other writing.  (It is apparent that the website still needs consistent maintenance and is not as automated as the ASA had hoped.)  This could be handled differently, depending on the strengths and interests of future board and committee members.

My other major concern just now is that we should seize the reopening moment to put out press releases and/or ads to the public.

Many of my own patients are feeling comfortable with going out for treatments to a small private office like mine, but this is not true of all of them, and the general public may have no idea that we are open or how we are handling sanitation.

At the beginning of the shutdown, I started attending UNM’s COVID-19 ECHO web sessions about twice a week.  These meetings included someone from DOH, so that when it became clear that DOMs were not getting guidance from the state on reopening, I was able to contact her.  She put me in touch with Dr. Rohini McKee of the Medical Advisory Team, and that was how we were able to get started on guidelines.  Since I was not sure what should be said about community acupuncture, I contacted Nityamo Lian, who also communicated with Dr. McKee.  The MAT got the work done quickly, and as you know, we were allowed to reopen around 5/16.

A detail:  I asked Steve for credentials for our PayPal account, since it can be necessary to check whether payments have been received for ads, but have not received that information.  I do have the email address for our current account, which seems to be working, so that I can give that to people who want to pay us.

We have a potential opportunity to bring more DOMs from around the state into our  annual meeting by combining a physical meeting for those who are nearby with online access for others.  It remains to be seen what will be possible by late September.

Meetings and upcoming event dates

2020 Annual Meeting: September 27

The BAOM practical exam was supposed to happen in May but was canceled, and it’s unclear what will happen.

Next board meeting:  August 2, 2020 at 1:00

Meeting adjourned at 3:55 pm