Welcome to the spring edition of the Bulletin! The Bulletin features your stories and how you are making a positive impact on family medicine.
In This Issue:
Letter from the Board President – Julie Anderson, MD, FAAFP
As I write my first letter to you as President of the Board of Trustees, the COVID-19 crisis has brought us – as colleagues and fellow humans – together in a way that none of us have witnessed before.
Like many of you, I am vacillating between worry and hope as I ride out the mandatory stay-at-home order. As owner of a private, small clinic in St. Cloud, Minn., I’m reflecting on what is important in my practice and in my life. In light of the pandemic, my frustrations with administrative burdens have been quickly replaced with the resolve to keep my doors open and staff healthy.
Through it all, we as family physicians continue to care for our patients. Now more than ever, community matters and I’m excited to share what we can do, together. The Foundation recently announced emergency grants to free clinics that have received Family Medicine Cares USA grants, and has created the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
The emergency grants of $1,000 to 49 free clinics can be used for durable or non-durable equipment or operational expenses, giving the family physicians at these essential healthcare centers the ability to fund the most pressing needs of their community.
To provide additional support for the free clinics and meet other needs created by the pandemic, the AAFP Foundation has also established the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. This will enable the Foundation to be prepared to tackle the challenges as they arise. For example, we’re already seeing a clear need to support and enhance the AAFP Telemedicine efforts. For more on the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, click here.
Being a family physician day in and day out can be challenging and emotionally unforgiving, particularly during a pandemic. I know. I’ve had to furlough employees as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and I have spoken with other family physicians who have had to make similar difficult choices. It’s incredibly stressful.
Fortunately, over the years, I have discovered that being part of something philanthropic, like the AAFP Foundation, is a bucket-filler. It recharges your battery even if external pressures are draining your voltage. It feels good to give! I encourage you to consider supporting and engaging with us by honoring your calling and sharing your story.
What is happening with you, with your practice? What are your hopes for the immediate future – and beyond? How does your involvement with the AAFP Foundation give you and others strength?
I believe that the stories of family physicians deserve more bandwidth. As we move through the pandemic and beyond, we want to hear from you. To share a story, or suggest one, please contact Cheri Tabel, Bulletin editor and AAFP Marketing Manager.
Stay safe. Stay healthy.
Donor Profile: Jeff Cain, MD, FAAFP – Making a Difference, Making a Life
Can one Foundation scholarship impact the lives of 10 million children? It can, if the scholarship goes to the right resident.
“I was in my second year of residency in family medicine and the residency director called me into his office and said, ‘You’re going to a conference,’” says Jeff Cain, MD, FAAFP. “The scholarship meant I got to fly in an airplane to another city, and didn’t have to sleep in a tent.”
While attending that fateful 1987 AAFP National Conference, Cain heard a speaker talk about how the tobacco industry was targeting children. The young doctor’s response was automatic: We need to do something. He returned home and, with the support of his residency and local health educators, co-created Tar Wars, the children’s tobacco-free education project. Since its launch in 1988, Tar Wars has been presented in all 50 states and 16 countries, reaching 10 million+ students. Today, the AAFP Foundation continues to support the program, inspiring kids to live tobacco-free.
Cain, who expanded that initial connection into decades of support and leadership for the AAFP Foundation and the AAFP, says the success of Tar Wars, “shows the power of sending residents to a conference “where they can learn, be inspired, and find their own way.”
“Family doctors make change happen every day in their offices, one patient at a time,” Cain says. “With a classroom filled with fifth graders and Tar Wars, I realized it felt good to make a difference for 30 kids at a time.”
The next logical step? Expand education into advocacy, and make a difference for thousands of people at a time. As the founding chair of the Amputee Coalition’s Advocacy Committee, Cain helped write and pass the first state law to require insurance companies to cover prosthetic devices. Since that landmark Colorado legislation in 2001, he has helped other states around the country follow suit; together, they have passed 21 state prosthetic insurance fairness laws.
Advocacy begins at home
While Cain credits the AAFP Foundation and his relationship with fellow doctors for ongoing inspiration and support, it’s clear that the importance of giving back was a lesson learned long before he became a family physician.
“In my family, our mother taught us the famous Winston Churchill quote, ‘You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.’ I’d like to see more young residents see their role beyond offices, as advocates for improving healthcare. I want to motivate people to contribute back to family medicine.”
“When we invest in the Foundation, we are investing in the heart of family medicine,” Cain says. “I’m really fortunate to have the career and life I’ve had. I’m not a rich man, but I am a wealthy man – I’ve had a wealth of experiences on lots of different levels, from practicing and teaching family medicine in my office, to the mountains of Colorado, to the halls of Washington, D.C.
“The skills I learned from Tar Wars helped me make changes elsewhere. Now, I’m looking to the future. I think every family doctor who reads this is important. Our country needs more of you.”
Could Cain’s vision of the future change your view? Stay tuned. We’ll have part two of his story in our next Bulletin.
Family Medicine Cares: St. Peter Community Free Clinic
When the St. Peter Community Free Clinic in Minnesota first opened its doors in May 2019, patients who came in with abdomen issues weren’t asked to get on an examining table. They stretched out on a couch for the doctor’s exam, because that was the only option. Now, thanks to a $19,055 Family Medicine Cares USA grant, it’s a different story.
“Having something as simple as an exam table makes a big difference, but the most basic exam table costs about $1500,” says Keith Stelter, MD, who co-founded the clinic with his wife, Carolyn Stelter, MD. “When we do fundraising in the community, most of the money comes in $50, $100, $250 at a time. To purchase just one exam table, we could be looking at 15 donations – and that takes a lot of work. The grant allows us to leapfrog over that.”
After reviewing the grant criteria, Stelter says he felt the St. Peter Community Free Clinic met the necessary requirements, including the expectation for longitudinal studies. Now, with grant money in hand, he’s excited about the clinic’s increased potential to help patients who haven’t accessed medical care because of costs.
“The grant allows us to take a quantum leap in providing better diagnostic equipment,” Stelter says. “It gives us the fundamental building blocks of having a primary care clinic.”
Those “building blocks” extend beyond the basic equipment you might expect, like blood pressure cuffs, scopes, and an EKG machine. The grant has also enabled the Stelters and their volunteer team to turn the open office space where the clinic is housed into a welcoming, professional health care environment. Patients in this largely Hispanic community are greeted at the front desk, offered an interpreter if needed, and immediately engaged in dialogue.
“The grant allows us to have some private spaces with nice, commercial-grade room dividers,” he says. “Depression and anxiety are very common conditions across America. Many in our population have been through some traumatic issues. We’ve been able to address that and, in follow-up visits, we’ve been pleased with their progress.
“When you have someone you trust and confide in, someone you can tell your story to, it makes a huge difference.”
The St. Peter grant was one of five the AAFP Foundation presented in January 2020 to new and existing free health clinics, comprising a total of $75,000 in grant funding. The other grants went to Clinica Mi Salud in Orlando, Fla.; Clinica del Sur in Ponce, Puerto Rico; Just in Time Medical Clinic in Maumee, Ohio; and Health for All in Bryan, Texas.
“Free health clinics are all about access to health care; family medicine can cover about 85% of what walks in the door,” says Stelter. “We were passionate to get this clinic started, and we knew we were on the right path when we talked to other health care providers and they came along and joined us. People want to do the right thing – they want to help. Sometimes they just need to have the structure in place.”
Interested in starting, or supporting, a free health clinic? Take the first step. Learn more about Family Medicine Cares USA(www.aafpfoundation.org).
Center for the History of Family Medicine: Sharing the Stories that Shape Us
You know Doug Henley, MD, FAAFP, as the executive vice president and CEO for the AAFP, a member of the AAFP Foundation board, and a major Foundation donor. But did you know he traces his interest in family medicine back to his roots as a curious boy in Hope Mills, N.C.?
Henley’s father was a “pharmacist by profession, a politician by avocation” and Henley would periodically hide behind a magazine rack in the pharmacy, listening to his dad talk with a customer who had no health insurance, no credit, and needed a prescription filled.
“Dad would be telling people, ‘You need to take your blood pressure medicine,’ or you need to take whatever it was that they had, recognizing that they couldn’t afford to pay right then,” Henley says. “But he knew they would make good on it, and eventually they did. That may have been a bushel of peas that they brought to the drugstore or a bushel of corn, but they would eventually pay in some fashion.”
Henley’s oral history, housed in the AAFP Foundation’s Center for the History of Family Medicine (CHFM), is one of the Center’s most frequently requested recordings. His story, with its game-changing impact on the Foundation(www.aafpfoundation.org), is also one of the first to be included in a new project, the digitization of recordings now archived on audio cassettes.
“The voices of family medicine have been available as transcripts and PDFs,” says Crystal Bauer, MLS, CHFM Manager. “However, the transcripts don’t capture the rich interaction and expression, and there are barriers to people accessing audio cassettes. We are digitizing the recordings to make them more readily available; we are overcoming the barrier.”
Bauer says phase one of the digitization project involves 24 audio recordings; the goal is to digitize the complete collection.
“Oral histories capture more of the richness of the story we’re trying to share,” she says. “We are learners in different ways, and lots of people learn more by listening than by reading.”
Ready to follow young Doug’s lead? Listen in!
Doug Henley on the early days
Have a smart phone? Record a conversation.
Oral histories support our interest in gathering stories from the field. The best oral histories are often conversations between people who know and understand each other. Think about a family physician with a rich history, nearing retirement. Now is the time to capture that doctor’s amazing stories! For information on getting started, contact Bauer at CBauer@aafp.org or 913.906.6004.
Corporate Partner Spotlight: GoodRx Works to Cut Costs and Improve Adherence
Family physicians know: The high cost of prescription drugs all too often leads to “sticker shock” at the pharmacy and non-compliance. GoodRx, one of our newest corporate partners, is doing something about that.
The GoodRx app, consistently ranked the #1 medical app on iTunes and Google Play, gathers current drug prices and discounts, then provides coupons – similar to those a customer would use at any grocery store – that can be printed or displayed on a smart phone. With “virtually every U.S. pharmacy” accepting the coupons, GoodRx estimates its free app has helped people save more than $15 billion in prescription drug expenses since its launch in 2011.
As a new Champion member, GoodRx has contributed $75,000 to the AAFP Foundation Partners Program. Their involvement with us stems from a contact made by AAFP Foundation Board President Julie Anderson, MD, FAAFP, who discovered the value of the app when picking up a prescription for her son, and now discusses GoodRx with patients as part of her focus on price transparency.
If you work with a corporate partner that could be a good philosophical and philanthropic match for the AAFP Foundation, please let us know. We thank GoodRx for its generous contribution and invite others to learn more about the AAFP Foundation Partner Program(www.aafpfoundation.org).
Corporate Partner Spotlight: Surescripts Works to Reduce Administrative Burdens
Generous corporate partners help the AAFP Foundation advance the values of family medicine, providing resources that support our work to improve the health of people and communities. Shared interests strengthen this collaboration, as our partnership with Surescripts demonstrates.
Surescripts(surescripts.com) traces its history to 2001, and the “urgent need to replace paper prescriptions” with e-prescriptions. Today, as America’s largest health information network, Surescripts is creating a collaborative, collective healthcare community. The company’s focus mirrors concerns facing family physicians, including the need to reduce the administrative time and burden physicians face; lowering prescription costs; and improving access and adherence.
As an Enthusiast member of the AAFP Foundation Partners Program, Surescripts has contributed $50,000, helping to fund continued expansion of programs that support family physicians and the patients served, including the annual “Office of the Future” exhibit at the Family Medicine Experience (FMX) conference. At the 2019 event, Surescripts offered an encouraging new vision of how collaboration can help improve everything from operations to outcomes.
The AAFP Foundation thanks Surescripts for its ongoing, generous support, and invites others to learn more about the AAFP Foundation Partner Program(www.aafpfoundation.org).