Melissa Brooks Peterson, MD
Program Chair

On behalf of the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia (SPA) and the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) Section on Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, I am honored and excited to welcome you to the SPA-AAP Pediatric Anesthesiology 2019 Meeting.

Welcome to Houston!  We will enjoy our time at the Marriott Marquis located downtown, and nearby to some of Houston’s most famous destinations: The Johnson Space Center, the Houston Museum District, and home fields of the Houston Astros (MLB), Houston Texans (NFL), Houston Rockets (NBA), Houston Dynamo (MLS), Houston Dash (NWSL) and Houston SaberCats (MLR). Houston is the fourth most populous city in the U.S., nicknamed “The Space City,” and is well known for its diverse ethnic, religious, and cultural population.  It is home of Texas Medical Center – the largest center for healthcare and research institutions in the world, and headquarters to the second most Fortune 500 companies in the U.S.  What a fitting location to convene, learn, and build relationships centered on the practice of Pediatric Anesthesiology!

This year I’d like to flip the script on the SPA-AAP Meeting welcome message and start by telling you about our featured session on Sunday Morning. Yes, you read that right – Sunday Morning! Book your plane reservations accordingly, because this year’s Sunday session could turn out to be the best of the Program. We have planned an amazing collection of keynote-style speakers for Sunday morning, including Anesthesiologist, Retired NASA Astronaut, and world famous systems and safety expert Dr. Jim Bagian. He will be followed by pediatric surgeon Dr. Steven L. Moulton, sharing some amazing new monitoring science and technology. Our very own NASA friend and expert Barbara Burian, PhD will teach us about cognitive workload in the operating room. Finally, we have a long-awaited unveiling of the SPA’s own Pedi Crisis App from the Pedi Crisis App team, Dr. Anna Clebone, and Dr. Jim Fehr. We are thrilled to also bring Dr. Genie Heitmiller to moderate this high-profile session.

Another exciting addition to the Program this year is the SPA Inaugural Gala "Boots & Bling", which will be held Saturday night at the Marriott Marquis.  This optional ticketed event includes a wonderful food, live music, and fun with all of your colleagues and friends to celebrate the Society of Pediatric Anesthesia and to honor a few pioneers of our specialty with special awards. Our hope is to encourage everyone to come together and celebrate the achievements of these trailblazers, and have FUN! Thank you to the SPA Board of Directors for developing and supporting this inaugural SPA Gala. We hope everyone will make the most of the opportunity to “elevate” the party on Saturday night!

Since I’ve taken the liberty to introduce the meeting out of order, please allow me to return to the start of our busy weekend.  On Thursday March 14th, the Society for Pediatric Pain Medicine (SPPM) and Congenital Cardiac Anesthesia Society (CCAS) will hold their annual meetings. As always, chairpersons Dr. Vidya Chidambaran (SPPM) and Kirsten Odegard (CCAS) have developed two fantastic educational programs we are certain you will enjoy. Meeting details can be found at sppmmmg.org (SPPM) and ccasmmg.org (CCAS).  Thank you to both Dr. Chidambaran and Dr. Odegard for their collaboration.

We will open the SPA-AAP proceedings with three sessions dedicated to topics related to the use, abuse, and crisis of opioids in the United States.  Dr. Frances Jensen, renowned Professor of Neurology and Chairperson at UPenn, will speak to us as a world expert on the developing teenage brain, help us decode the teenager (Finally! Parents pay attention!), and understand why this patient population is an especially at-risk group. Dr. Ron Litman will review abuse-deterrent formulations (ADFs), and Dr. Tony Anderson will share the newest non-opioid targets and molecules for pain management.  Thank you to Dr. Lynne Maxwell for her thoughtful and seasoned approach to moderating this first jam-packed session!

In the remaining sessions for Friday morning, Dr. Anjana Kundu will host two SPA leaders – Dr. Peggy McNaull returns to the podium as a speaker to share a novel, practical, and effective program of opioid stewardship, and Dr. Peter Davis will offer a perspective on the longitudinal ‘pendulum’ phenomenon of opioids, pain assessment, and pain control in our practice. Finally, Dr. Stephen Patrick will challenge our thinking and advance our understanding of neonatal abstinence syndrome during the AAP Advocacy Lecture.

Just before we break for lunch, the AAP Robert M. Smith Award will be presented to Dr. Nancy Glass.  Since 1986, this award has been presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of pediatric anesthesiology.  Dr. Glass has had a magnificent career as a clinician-educator.  She is a tenured Professor of Pediatrics and Anesthesiology at Baylor College of Medicine and has earned many awards for teaching excellence. Dr. Glass has lectured extensively locally, nationally and internationally on topics of pediatrics and anesthesiology. She has also written at length on these topics. Her passion for her field has inspired Dr. Glass to lead teams of volunteer physicians in Peru and Guatemala. She is full of zest, energy, and enthusiasm for patients, trainees, and colleagues alike. Her continued passion for clinical medicine is the embodiment of the Robert M. Smith Award. She has served as a mentor and role model for many of us in the field, and has truly been a trailblazer.

After lunch on Friday, we will return to the general session for a four-part update on anesthesia for pediatric orthopedic procedures with moderator Dr. Tarun Bhalla and speakers Dr. Sabina DiCindio, Dr. David Martin, Dr. Michael Puglia, and Dr. James Mooney. Then we will learn some practical tools for promoting wellness, as moderator Dr. Katherine Keech and speakers Dr. Greg Hammer and Dr. Amy Vinson who will share their knowledge on institutional and departmental structure that supports wellness and building a resident wellness program, respectively.

To finish the wellness session on Friday afternoon prior to the Reception with Exhibitors, I am thrilled to bring you SPA’s first out-of-the-lecture-hall general session.  We will take what we have learned about wellness and “put our money where our mouth is,” – by leaving the lecture hall and participating in a variety of activities that directly promote personal wellness and mitigate burnout.  More details to follow, but please plan on bringing your yoga pants, running shoes, walking sneakers, swimsuit, or a mindful presence and get ready to relax – CME all in the name of wellness!

When we reconvene on Saturday morning, moderator Dr. Courtney Hardy will showcase a very special part of Texas Medical Center by inviting local experts from the Texas Heart Institute. Dr. Emad Mossad will speak about the heart-lung interface, cardiorespiratory discordance, and pulmonary hypertension. Then Dr. Luiz Sampaio will challenge our traditional paradigm of treating pediatric congenital heart disease by sharing the science of regenerative medicine. Can we make the Norwood obsolete with hearts grown in a lab? Come find out!

The SPA meeting planning committee and SPA Board of Directors are thrilled this year to include the 2019 SPA Distinguished International Scholar on the program. Dr. Britta von Ungern-Sternberg is Professor and Chair of Pediatric Anesthesia at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth.  She will share her impressive research with us on Saturday morning, discussing the induction of anesthesia and respiratory risk in pediatric patients. As the conclusion to our international scholar’s message, Dr. Jamie Peyton will pilot a new session format titled “WWspaD: What Would SPA Do?” – challenging the SPA membership and a select panel of experts with a series of brief clinical scenarios.

Saturday will include the customary SPA Oral Presentations, Abstract Awards, and Poster Sessions. This year we have changed the poster sessions to include more moderators, fewer posters-per-session, and a new moderated Saturday morning breakfast session.  These changes to the poster sessions are geared to provide moderated poster sessions for every accepted poster in order to highlight the achievements of our up-and-coming young faculty, medical students, residents and fellows. The success of a high-volume poster component of the meeting is vital to the future of our society. Therefore, we hope you will commit some of your energy on Saturday to this stimulating portion of the curriculum!

Saturday afternoon, the SPA and AAP will bring an important – albeit controversial -- topic to our society. The AAP Ask the Experts Panel will highlight emerging threats to pediatric healthcare, taking a deep, data-driven dive into gun violence and its effects on our pediatric patients. Dr. Mary Landrigan-Ossar and Dr. Anita Honkanen will moderate this eye-opening topic, as we welcome Texas Children’s Hospital trauma surgeons Dr. Mary Brandt and Dr. Bindi Naik-Mathuria to the podium.

In the last few years, gender inequity, bias, and the #metoo movement have brought some controversial issues into the forefront of our conversations. The 2019 meeting planning committee, the SPA BOD, and I are committed to identifying these issues in our own workforce and intentionally planning educational activities that will identify, unpack, and eventually extinguish our profession’s biases and inequities. To that end, we are proud to bring Dr. Nina Deutsch, Dr. Jennifer Lee, and Dr. Jamie Schwartz to the stage to discuss gender inequity our profession. Dr. Alisha Moreland-Capiua, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, will educate us on the impact of bias in the human psyche and in our workplace. Dr. Christina Diaz will guide us through this landmark session.

We will conclude the educational program on Saturday afternoon with a short and timely session on what we regularly in the operating room to prevent surgical site infections. Dr. Richard Ing will share the newest data on preoperative antibiotic administration, and Dr. Scott Segal, Professor of Anesthesiology and Chairperson at Wake Forest University, will share with us the current realities – and fantasies – of operating room attire.  At the conclusion of this efficient session, you can be sure to be an updated, informed, and infection-free pediatric anesthesiologist! (Or at least dress like one!)

In addition to the 32.25 maximum offered CME credits and MOCA Patient Safety credits for the general session, I’d like to highlight the incredible collection of workshops that we’ve developed for focused and hands-on learning at the 2019 meeting. Dr. Tarun Bhalla has been an incredible meeting co-chair and Workshop Coordinator and has planned for you 22 workshops throughout the three day conference.  This includes seven new workshops with topics including opioid mythbusting, one lung ventilation, blood management and more! . Additionally, the problem-based learning discussion (PBLD) lineup is one of the strongest and most institutionally diverse we have had in many years – thanks to Dr. Courtney Hardy for his hard work as a meeting co-chair and PBLD Coordinator.

The controversial, challenging, and high-powered program for 2019 is the result of a collective and sustained effort the meeting planning committee. We have exchanged 1,500+ emails, 400+ text messages, 50+ phone calls, and held many conference calls to bring you this three day event. Thank you to exhibitors whose support makes our meeting possible. Thanks to the many SPA members who shared with us their evaluations from prior meetings and their new ideas that give this program is strength, depth, and balance. Thanks to Dr. Rae Brown and Dr. Mary Landrigan-Ossar for their collaboration on behalf of the AAP. Thanks to the 2019 meeting co-chairs Tarun Bhalla and Courtney Hardy for their shared leadership and for tackling the workshop and PBLD programs.  Thank you also to our ‘program shadows,’ Jaime Peyton, Justin Long, and Jennifer Hernandez for their energy and dedication.

Thank you to Dr. Kirk Lalwani as the Education Committee chairperson for his guidance and leadership, as well as the person who agreed to let me be his ‘shadow’ in 2015 (Kirk, what were you thinking?!!). A debt of gratitude goes to Dr. Randy Flick for his mentorship and guidance since I became an active SPA member many years ago.  Little did I know what I was in for, and I genuinely thank you both for your confidence and trust.

There is one critical secret to planning 3-day, 1200-attendee SPA-AAP Pediatric Anesthesiology Meeting with a bunch of control-freak anesthesiologists utilizing non-face-to-face communication!  That secret is the lovely, opinionated, tenacious, funny, and amazingly hard-working Ms. Kim Battle.  Her experience, knowledge, decisiveness, and diplomacy are something our society benefits from every day. Kim, thank you.

I’ll end with a shout out to all of my SPA colleagues who share their opinions and friendships with abandon. I truly hope we have brought you a 2019 program that is interactive, approachable, envelope-pushing, and imbued with a spirit of openness and adventure that is the essence of who we are as a society.  Let’s learn a ton, let’s challenge each other, and let’s HAVE SOME FUN! Can’t wait to see you in Houston!

Melissa Brooks Peterson