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Improving physicians' lives, well being should be priority

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Focus on 2020

The Business Journal sought out leaders in a variety of fields asking what they consider important issues to focus on in the coming year. Wendy Young is the executive director of the Sonoma County Medical Association.

Read other perspectives on the local business environment for the year ahead.

The Sonoma County Medical Association is the physican-led professional organization of Sonoma County. With their membership in SCMA, physicians are empowered to lead and transform the health care system through advocacy. The SCMA administrative team focuses on providing tools, networks and services to physicians to improve their practice life and personal well-being, which in turn translates to patient well-being.

Current trends that SCMA will continue to focus on in 2020 are:

1. The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) — working to continue California’s landmark malpractice protections.

2. Vaping — creating an aggressive ban on flavored e-cigarettes for sale to minors.

3. Emergency preparedness protocol. If we have learned anything over the last several years, it is how unprepared we were for large-scale emergencies like those we experienced during the Tubbs and Kincade fires of 2017 and 2019, respectively.

Organization, deployment, and set-up and staffing of the evacuation shelters were much improved during the Kincade fire this past fall. The medical community is working together to bring lessons learned from these disasters into one single resource. SCMA will assist with information gathering and production of this valuable community resource.

4. Sonoma County homelessness. While we are still watching and learning exactly what the issues are, and who is doing what on this prevalent issue in Santa Rosa, we are beginning discussions with the County of Sonoma to examine public health policy as it relates to the growing homeless population in Santa Rosa.

5. Physician wellness. There is an alarming rate of burnout among practicing physicians. Toward this end, it is of utmost importance to focus on the well-being of our doctors. SCMA and the California Medical Association are committed to addressing root causes of the professional dissatisfaction that we see growing in the medical profession. This quest requires us to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of the individual physician, as well as the systemic drivers that are causing burnout. Our goal is to offer a suite of services that will address the needs of physicians in all modes of practice — offering guidance for medical organizations to transform their practice environment and provide physician leaders with the tools to create a culture of wellness and a more rewarding practice life for themselves and their colleagues.

An issue you may be aware of, but unaware of the role physicians played here in Sonoma County, was the passing of the law preventing smoking within 20 feet of public buildings.

We have also vigorously joined the battles against sugar-sweetened beverages and vaping, both of which will continue into 2020. In 2019, SCMA representatives marched alongside our colleagues across the state on issues affecting the health of our communities and the profession of medicine.

Our notable advocacy wins this past year included (but are not limited to):

Passing legislation to increase vaccination rates and protect community immunity. California legislation has led to a national trend of other states seeking to strengthen their laws. We used our collective voices to support and initiate change in many areas, including SB 276, to prevent fraudulent school vaccine exemptions. Locally, efforts were led by SCMA member physician Dr. Brian Prystowsky; Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill on Sept. 9.

Passing the first statewide tobacco tax in 18 years, along with a historic package of tobacco prevention legislation that included raising the age of tobacco purchase to 21, and ensuring e-cigarettes were regulated as tobacco products.

SCMA relies on community and physician involvement to transform and maintain standards of health care. Through our representatives to the CMA House of Delegates, we connect with community leaders and state legislators to discuss how proposed legislation could enhance or threaten patients’ health or physicians’ ability to practice medicine.

From sponsoring legislation to testifying in committee and meeting one-on-one with elected officials, SCMA advocates on behalf of physicians and patients throughout the legislative session. This advocacy positively affects the delivery of health care and the practice of medicine. Advocacy for medical practice sustainability within a health care system that meets patients’ needs and ensures robust public health is at the core of SCMA/CMA’s mission and competencies.

As we head into 2020 under the leadership of Rajesh Ranadive, M.D., of St. Joseph Health Medical Group, SCMA will reach its highest membership numbers in its 162-year history. As we continue to grow and increase SCMA’s visibility in the community, we will be expanding our member services by working with community partners through our new ‘Concierge Service’ for physicians. This member benefit program will focus on assisting physicians in their professional and personal lives as we offer customized referrals through the Medical Association’s Business Partner and Supporting Partner programs. Contact me for details on how to become one of SCMA’s limited business partners.

Please know that my door is always open to you, your suggestions and your feedback.

Focus on 2020

The Business Journal sought out leaders in a variety of fields asking what they consider important issues to focus on in the coming year. Wendy Young is the executive director of the Sonoma County Medical Association.

Read other perspectives on the local business environment for the year ahead.

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