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  • September 17, 2020 9:49 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    2020 WACEP President’s Report
    Ryan Thompson, MD, FACEP 
    (Excerpted from the 2020 WACEP Business Meeting, September 15, 2020)

    This has been an unprecedented year, with a myriad of challenges. COVID-19 has upended our state and our world in ways we couldn’t have dreamed of a year ago. So first I would like to thank each and every one of you for what you have done this year. Emergency physicians in our state stepped up in every conceivable way to face this challenge. Your ability to continue to provide incredible care to Wisconsinites despite the challenges of PPE shortages, despite the risks to your own health, and that of your families, even while facing budget shortfalls, constantly shifting guidelines, and a mountain of uncertainty, has been absolutely incredible. So thank you all!

    This year of my presidency has certainly not been what I expected. My background is as an educator, and I was excited to bring that energy to this year’s Spring Symposium and continue to expand our Rural Outreach educational program. However, events conspired to cancel both of those events, and our focus by necessity shifted to advocating for our members and patients during a pandemic. I will be forever in the debt of my fellow physicians on the WACEP Executive Board and Board of Directors. Without their expertise and hard work, none of what we have accomplished this year would be possible. If you know any of these folks, please reach out to them with a hearty thank you!

    I am happy to report that we have been able to have a big impact during COVID. We advocated for liability protections during the Emergency order, and were also able to convince the state to include emergency groups in eligibility for CARES funds. WACEP joined other medical societies in supporting common-sense masking and social distancing, and collaborated with the Wisconsin Hospital Association to produce a PSA reassuring Wisconsinites about the safety of our Emergency Departments despite the pandemic. 

    Beyond COVID, we’ve had great success in other areas as well, including state level advocacy, membership retention, and collaborative efforts to improve mental health care in Wisconsin. Despite the challenges of the year, I feel good about what WACEP has achieved, and I look forward to what we will continue to accomplish in the year to come.  

    Advocating for EM physicians and our patients requires us to have the means to get our ideas and advocates in front of Wisconsin politicians. Each of our board members has committed to donating to our PAC, and I would encourage all of our members to make a contribution as well—our PAC is what allows  us to advocate for substantive change in the state. There are great things on the horizon in our state, but also significant challenges. A strong PAC will allow us to face those challenges head-on. If you feel that WACEP has improved your practice environment, please consider making a contribution today!

  • September 17, 2020 9:00 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    The Wisconsin Chapter, ACEP Nominating Committee is now accepting nominations of any member in good standing interested in serving in WACEP leadership.

    WACEP's Board of Directors meets quarterly and provides ongoing strategic oversight as the organization works to advance the effectiveness, sustainability and mission of the Chapter. Board members are expected to participate in all Board meetings, the annual Spring Symposium, and to volunteer for other activities that will help advance the organization's strategic priorities.

    Nominations are being accepted for the positions listed below (terms begin January 1, 2021):

    • (3) Directors-at-Large on the Board of Directors (4-year term)  
    • President-Elect (this is a 3-year commitment, one year each as President-Elect, President and Immediate Past President)  
    • Secretary/Treasurer (1-year term) 

    If you or any of your colleagues are committed to serving in a leadership capacity and being a resource for information, education, networking and advocacy, we encourage you to get involved! 

    Nominate yourself or a colleague today! Nominations are due by November 20, 2020. Submit nominations here.

  • September 17, 2020 8:51 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    WACEP congratulates Michael Repplinger, MD, PhD, FACEP as the recipient of this year's WACEP Distinguished Service Award. The award was presented during the virtual Annual Membership Meeting on September 15, 2020 by WACEP President Ryan Thompson, MD, FACEP. 

    Over the last 10 years, Dr. Michael Repplinger has demonstrated a commitment to improving patient care and promoting the profession of emergency medicine. He was UW’s first resident delegate to the WACEP Board and has continued to serve in various roles in WACEP including President in 2013 and Councilor for the past 3 years. During his tenure on the Board, Dr. Repplinger has substantially contributed to numerous WACEP initiatives, resulting in important changes to Wisconsin’s statutes. Examples include changing the statutory definition of informed consent for medical care, reinstating medical malpractice caps for noneconomic damages, and providing statutory liability protection when conducting body cavity searches. 

    Outside of political lobbying, Dr. Repplinger has advocated for emergency physicians at the Wisconsin Medical Society and in teaching medical students and residents. He has personally penned and successfully promoted the adoption of resolutions favorable to emergency medicine including a policy supporting the increase of Medicaid reimbursement for EMTALA-related services. Current initiatives led or substantially bolstered by Dr. Repplinger include streamlining and standardizing the medical assessment of patients being admitted with mental health crises, improving the current version of a web-based statewide psychiatric bed locator, and reversing the current Medicaid policy that bars reimbursement for inpatient psychiatric care at freestanding psychiatric hospitals. 

    Beyond his patient and profession-centered advocacy efforts, Dr. Repplinger is a stellar emergency care researcher, focused on the use of radiation-free imaging in the ED. He has been awarded several federal, foundation, and institutional grants, published nearly 40 peer-reviewed articles, and received numerous research awards. His unique line of research is innovative and practice changing. 

    For all these reasons and more, WACEP is delighted to announce that Dr. Repplinger is this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Service Award.

    The WACEP Distinguished Service Award program began in 2018 to annually recognize a WACEP member who has made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of the emergency medicine specialty, and who has demonstrated the ideals of the organization through their ongoing activities and accomplishments. 

  • September 08, 2020 9:10 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    It's National Suicide Prevention Week. ACEP will be sharing relevant patient care tools and resources for members on social media while also conducting an awareness campaign for the public.

    Next week, ACEP will share advocacy updates and wellness tools to mark Physician Suicide Awareness Day on Sept. 17. Join the conversation as we work together to raise awareness about this important issue during an especially challenging season for EM physicians and society as a whole.

  • September 08, 2020 8:22 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    WACEP Immediate Past President and UW Health's Chief Quality Officer, Dr. Jeff Pothof was interviewed on PBS Wisconsin’s Here and Now. Dr. Pothof was the first among an expected 1,600 volunteers to take an experimental COVID-19 vaccine at a study run jointly by UW Health and the UW School of Medicine. He joins the program from Madison. View interview.

  • September 03, 2020 3:12 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    WACEP is excited to announce that as a result of our legislative committee’s grassroots efforts, and especially our lobbyists’ outreach to Governor Evers and the Department of Health Services, federal CARES Act funds distributed by the State of Wisconsin are being made available to Independent Emergency Physician Practice Groups to help offset expenses and lost revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.    

    The application is expected to be open within the next few days. We encourage interested members to sign up on the DHS listserve to stay up to date with application announcements. Alternatively, go to the DHS COVID-19 page and sign up using the box on the right side of the page labeled, "Stay up to date on the CARES Act Provider Payments Program."

    During the application process, questions can be directed to:
    DHSDMSDCPP@dhs.wisconsin.gov.  

    View the official DHS press release. Please contact WACEP if we can be of assistance. 
  • September 01, 2020 11:41 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    September 17, Wisconsin Health News

    A new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center recently opened in Wisconsin. 

    Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin will manage the new center, known as the Wisconsin Lifeline, under a $2 million grant from the Department of Health Services. It’s part of Wisconsin’s share of the federal Community Mental Health Services Block Grant. 

    The center will accept calls originating from communities not covered by one of the four existing Wisconsin-based centers that are part of the national lifeline’s network.

    “Adding capacity to handle Wisconsin calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is part of our ongoing effort to ensure the right supports are available at the right time for people in emotional distress,” DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said in a Wednesday statement. “It’s about offering hope and promoting healing.” 

    The new center began answering calls in August. During its first week, the percent of Wisconsin calls to the lifeline answered in-state increased to 85 percent, above the national benchmark of 70 percent. Before its launch, the in-state answer rate was at 30 percent due to the large volume of calls coming from areas outside of the four locally funded call centers’ responsibility. 

    The new center will also position Wisconsin well to handle a predicted surge in calls when the 10-digit nationwide helpline number switches to 988 in July 2022, DHS noted.

  • August 31, 2020 5:29 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    Thursday, September 17, 2020, marks the 3rd annual National Physician Suicide Awareness Day. This year’s theme, One of Us, is meant to remind us that suicide can affect anyone... our families, our friends, our colleagues.

    The Wisconsin Chapter, American College of Emergency Physicians, is proudly among numerous organizations across the country who support the event, which was created to honor the memory of physicians who have died by suicide and to continue to raise awareness and discussion on how to prevent it. 

    Join us and Support National Physician Suicide Awareness Day at your work setting:

    • Create a safe space by dedicating time to talk about mental health and suicide.  Setaside time at your morning report, morning huddle or faculty meeting to discuss physician mental health, depression and suicide. This allows your group to speak freely about it without a spotlight on them personally.
    • Say the names of your colleagues who have died by suicide. Remember them, honor their memory, share stories and lessons learned. 
    • Be vulnerable and a role-model for your colleagues and trainees. Physicians are notoriously constricted in sharing their own emotions and experiences which may contribute to the higher rates of burnout, depression and suicide rate. Start the conversation and break the ice. By role-modeling vulnerability, you are helping to change the culture in medicine.   
    • Identify and promote access to mental health. Review and share how mental health care and resources are addressed and accessed locally.
  • August 24, 2020 2:26 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    Registration is now open for ACEP's upcoming summit, "Preparing for the Next Pandemic" with sessions taking place between August 31 and September 10, 2020.

    ACEP's president, Dr. Bill Jaquis, will serve as moderator for eight, one-hour sessions focused on lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis and strategies to better respond to the next pandemic. Session topics include: Communications, Data and Analysis, Deployment and Distribution of Physicians and Other Health Care Workers, Disparities and Vulnerable Populations, Information Flow, Research, Supply Chain, and Workforce Support and Sustainability.

    View event information & register

    Alternatively, you may register for each session directly using the session links below:

    • Communications Session; Mon, Aug 31 01:00 PM CT - Link
    • Disparities and Vulnerable Populations Session; Mon, Aug 31 02:30 PM CT - Link
    • Supply Chain Session; Wed, Sep 2 01:00 PM CT – Link
    • Research Session; Thu, Sep 3 03:00 PM CT - Link
    • Information Flow Session; Fri, Sep 4 01:00 PM CT - Link
    • Deployment and Distribution of Physicians and Other Health Care Workers Session; Wed, Sep 9 01:00 PM CT - Link
    • Data and Analysis Session; Wed, Sep 9 03:00 PM CT - Link
    • Workforce Support and Sustainability Session; Thu, Sep 10, 01:00 PM CT - Link
  • August 18, 2020 11:41 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    Ryan Thompson, MD, FACEP
    WACEP President’s Message, August 2020

    I recently started work on an addition for my house, and after digging a giant hole, my contractor discovered that the sandy dirt under my foundation had largely eroded away in the 90 years since the house had been built. This was an unwelcome (and expensive!) discovery, but even more concerning is that I suddenly had to worry about my house collapsing – a possibility I had never even considered in my 5 years of living there. How could something as seemingly small as sand have such a major impact on the stability of my home?!

    Just like the sand under my home, Medicare reimbursement is probably something most emergency physicians rarely think about. However, since we see such a large number of Medicare patients, those payments do serve as the foundation for the financial solvency of many of our practices. And also like that sand, those payments are at threat of bringing down the whole house if they erode away.

    ACEP had actually made great headway on increasing CMS payments for emergency E/M codes in this year’s CMS reimbursement fee schedule update. They were able to secure an increase of about 12.7% for level 3 charts, and an increase of about 5.25% for level 4 and 5 charts. This is good news! However, as always, the devil is in the details. In order to promote primary care, CMS increased payments for all outpatient office codes. However, CMS has a mandate to remain budget neutral, so they have proposed a rule slashing all other physician reimbursements by 9%. Factoring in the increase in ED codes, emergency physicians are facing a 6% decrease in reimbursement in 2021, taking a veritable firehose to the sand that supports many small practice groups.

    However, we don’t have to stand idly by and watch this happen. If Congress waives the budget neutrality requirement, we will actually see an increase of about 3%. And in the midst of facing down a pandemic, now is not the time to start shortchanging the nation’s physicians. Reach out to your legislators and let them know that emergency physicians need relief right now, not belt tightening. A cut of this scale could force smaller groups out of business all around the nation, and Wisconsin has a high percentage of small independent groups.

    If Congress fails to stop this erosion of the foundations of Emergency Medicine, the long-term damage will be far more expensive and difficult to fix than is apparent at first glance. Just ask my contractor!

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