Message from the President

By Nina Deutsch, MD
SPA President

Dr. Deutsch

Dr. Deutsch

As I write my first President’s Message for the newsletter, I am extremely honored to be serving in this role.  First and foremost, I want to thank Dr. Randy Flick for his service and dedication as he leaves the Executive Committee as Immediate Past President.  His mentorship has been invaluable and greatly appreciated.  I also want to recognize and thank the members of our Board that have finished their terms.  Drs. John Fiadjoe, Sean Flack, and Jennifer Lee have made huge contributions to SPA and their insight and leadership will be missed.  Finally, Dr. Kirk Lalwani has done an outstanding job as President, and I look forward to working with him for the next two years as I serve in this role.

As I become President, we continue to face global health and social issues that will affect us for years to come.  COVID-19 infections continue to rise around the country, and anesthesiologists have demonstrated their skills, knowledge, and flexibility like never before in combating this disease.  While disease severity and hospital admissions in children may be lower, pediatric anesthesiologists have still had to adjust both at work and at home. 

I am amazed by the outstanding work of our members in these trying times. The SPA Pediatric Difficult Intubation Collaborative published important and informative consensus guidelines on management of the pediatric airway in COVID-19 patients.  The Pediatric Anesthesia Leadership Council (PALC) has kept everyone updated on the latest COVID-19 practices across the country, including how to prepare for the return of elective cases in a new environment. SPA also hosted experts around the country for an outstanding virtual Town Hall on COVID-19 in pediatric patients.  These are just a few examples of SPA members stepping up and making a difference.  Please continue to reach out to SPA as a resource and let me know of other ways that we can help you in your work.

Speaking of virtual, the first virtual Annual Meeting was a great success! Special kudos go to Drs. Kasia Ruben, Jamie Payton and Meera Gangadharan as well as Kim Battle and the Ruggles team for essentially reworking the meeting as the global situation changed.  We had outstanding speakers who were able to flex to the new format, and we learned a lot for future meetings.  Due to the continued challenges with COVID-19, including institutional travel restrictions, we have made the decision to switch to a virtual format for the SPA-AAP Pediatric Anesthesiology 2021 meeting in February.  While we are sad not to be meeting in person again, this is the right decision for the times.  Dr. Emmett Whitaker and his planning team are putting together an exciting and informative meeting! 

Some of the most important work of SPA lately has been the work of our members to help address healthcare inequities both for our patients and our colleagues.  The Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has been developing many initiatives through a comprehensive strategic plan, including increased mentorship and leadership opportunities within SPA.  The Women's Empowerment and Leadership Initiative (WELI) continues to grow and evolve, providing outstanding workshops, virtual networking sessions and other resources.  The SPA Education Committee has also committed to providing educational sessions at every meeting to address some aspect of diversity. Importantly, SPA leadership will continue to devote resources to these efforts in order to make a difference for our patients and members.

Finally, I am extremely proud of our outreach to other societies which allows for collaboration and growth.  With the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, SPA signed a joint statement in response to a recently published retrospective study suggesting that there may be an association between epidural analgesia during labor and autism in offspring.  In this statement, we dispute the findings of the study, as it did not provide credible scientific evidence that labor epidurals cause autism, nor did it address other causes of autism that do exist. 

In another initiative, members of SPA, ASA and AAP have developed a consensus statement on vaping in adolescent patients which will be released soon.  Future collaborations between SNACC and SPA are also in the works, as is a diversity initiative with SEA.  Through these efforts, SPA will continue to expand its outreach to fulfill our basic mission, to make anesthesia safer for children.

I appreciate everyone's engagement and dedication to SPA.  YOU are what make it such an incredible Society.  Please reach out to me at any time with any questions, concerns or ideas.  I am always available and look forward to hearing from you.  And most importantly, stay safe and well!

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