President’s Message: 2020: Reflections on a Challenging Year

Posted December 4, 2020

It may be hard to believe but this is my last President’s Message for 2020.

Or perhaps for you, it isn’t hard to believe we’ve already come to the close of another calendar year. 2020 has certainly been a year unlike any other, and events like what we’ve experienced over the last nine months sometimes do funny things to our concept of time. Either way, I always find it important to acknowledge the close of one chapter and the opening of a new one.

The long hours and stress we have experienced since the beginning of the pandemic has been enormous. And in that vein, I’d like to remember two physicians we unfortunately lost to COVID-19. Dr. Rebecca Shadowen was an infectious disease specialist from Bowling Green who urged mask wearing early on in the pandemic. She was just 62 years old and battled COVID for nearly 4 months before her death in September. And last month, we lost Dr. Mohammad Jawed, who practiced internal medicine in Corbin and specialized in hypertension and diabetes for more than 20 years. Dr. Jawed fought COVID for seven weeks.

These losses will be felt tremendously by their communities and patients, but also by the medical profession as a whole. As we navigate this crisis, it’s important that we reflect upon their lives and remind ourselves that this battle is not yet over. We must continue to work to do whatever we can in their honor to end this pandemic and the loss of life associated with it. 

Despite the many challenges and dangers we have faced this year, I am immensely proud of the work of our thousands of physician members. Physicians have been leaders throughout this pandemic, and have continued to navigate this crisis with knowledge, patience and perseverance. I wish I could thank each of you personally for the dedication and sacrifices you have made to provide care during this unprecedented time. Medicine is certainly a calling, and I don’t know that there has ever been a year that has reminded me of that more.  I am hopeful that 2021 will bring about healing and recovery, for both our patients and ourselves.

I am also proud of the work of our Association. KMA pivoted quickly this spring to provide our members with the most important news and resources available at a critical time for our profession.  Our first-ever virtual Annual Meeting witnessed a record turnout with informative and invigorating opportunities for education and engagement. The “Meet the Mandates” CME sessions, in partnership with the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, have allowed nearly 1,400 physicians from across the state to receive all of their mandated CME online and free of charge, from the safety and comfort of their home. Last week we were also proud to team up with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to provide an exclusive webinar for members on the COVID-19 vaccine delivery and distribution plans.

KMA has also worked to educate our fellow Kentuckians about COVID-19 and how to mitigate its spread. We teamed up with outside stakeholder groups, like the Kentucky Hospital Association, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky to produce public service announcements as well as a highly successful statewide awareness campaign, “Raise Your Guard, KY,” that have positively impacted the health of Kentuckians. Raise Your Guard, KY generated nearly 1.5 million impressions encouraging patients to see their physician and update their immunizations to maintain optimal health. The campaign was so successful it’s being extended and expanded through “Raise Your Guard, KY: Focus on Flu,” which will welcome additional partners in Humana, WellCare, Aetna and the Kentucky Hospital Association to encourage flu vaccination. 

We will look back on this time as perhaps the most challenging we will face in our professional lives. So thank you for your dedication to this profession and thank you for your membership in KMA. I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season, and look forward to a brighter and healthier 2021.