August 2021 President’s Message: Be Well. Stay Well…And Beyond

Posted August 9, 2021

It’s hard to believe this is my last message to the membership as KMA President.

When I began my term last August, I frankly had no idea what kind of challenges the year would bring. We were five months into a global pandemic with absolutely no playbook. Thankfully, in early December, a vaccine became available with an effectiveness rate better than we could have hoped. However, we continue to work towards convincing all of our patients that getting the shot is the way to move forward and put this threat behind us.

Challenges like this however are why I am so thankful for the Kentucky Medical Association and our members across the state. Through KMA, we are united as a medical profession, and therefore even in the darkest of times we have one another to help us accomplish our common goals.

Our Raise Your Guard, KY campaign encouraged vaccinations and well-visits with a physician, and specifically targeted communities across the state where these rates had declined the sharpest. We reached more than 1.1 million Kentuckians with our messaging and helped countless children and adults get back to their physicians to receive the care they needed to stay healthy during these unprecedented times.

I am also proud of our “Be Well. Stay Well Physician Health Program,” which provides us to six free visits for KMA member physicians in rural areas with a licensed therapist through the Woodland Group of Lexington.

And once the COVID-19 vaccine became available in early spring, we encouraged Kentuckians to receive the shots when they became eligible. This campaign reached more than 2 million Kentuckians, placing special emphasis on counties where COVID vaccination rates were the lowest.

Our work towards ending the pandemic is far from over, however. Just last week, we signed on to a statement with the Kentucky Hospital Association and Kentucky Nurses Association supporting hospitals and health systems across the state who choose to mandate COVID-19 vaccination among their healthcare workers. This move was praised by the Governor and Public Health Director Steve Stack, M.D., and while 96% of physicians are vaccinated, I’m proud to support all members of the care team taking this step to protect our patients and communities.

None of this would have been possible without you.  Being a member of the KMA means that you have helped to provide all of this information to millions of Kentuckians.  The KMA was formed in the mid-1800’s to promote public health through clean water and other measures we now take for granted.  It is my sincere hope that when we look back on this time, it will be seen that the Kentucky medical community took action that improved public health and let our descendants take what we accomplished for granted.

In just a couple of weeks, Neal Moser, M.D. will take the oath as President of the KMA for the coming year, and I know he will carry the torch extremely well. As a pulmonologist, the timing for his Presidency couldn’t be better, as we prepare to launch our next public health effort: a lung health awareness project titled “Breathe Better Kentucky” with the KFMC and the Anthem Foundation.

It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve you as your President for the last year, even if most of my interactions have had to be over Zoom! I am intensely proud of our KMA, and proud of each of you and the role you played in bringing these accomplishments to fruition during an incredibly trying year. While I can’t predict what the future might hold (and don’t even try to anymore), I do know that our KMA will continue to be here, caring for you and caring for the patients of Kentucky…and for that, I am thankful.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Dale Toney, M.D.
2020-2021 KMA President