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Association News
Fire Can't Deter Members From APA Committee Work
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 20 page 11-26

The first full day of APA's annual components meeting, held September 4 to 7 in downtown Washington, D.C., dawned uncomfortably warm and muggy and then heated up in an unexpected way: members in attendance were impacted by an early-morning electrical fire in the basement of the JW Marriott Hotel, site of the gathering.

One hotel employee was seriously injured and hospitalized, according to the next day's Washington Post.

The fire, described by the Post as "small," resulted in the loss of electricity and water at the hotel, the evacuation of guests, and the immediate cessation there of APA's meeting activities.

APA staff and hotel employees scrambled, and in short order the day's meetings were relocated to two other venues—a nearby hotel and an international trade center. Later JW Marriott and APA staff moved the rest of the meetings to the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel a few miles away. APA members were also moved there (see APA's Fall Meetings: Not Business as Usual).

It was at the Wardman Park the next morning that APA President Nada Stotland, M.D., M.P.H., kicked off the plenary session of the components meeting by praising the determination and exceptional effort of the APA staff and members in attendance to keep the meetings going.

"The very first thing I want to do this morning is I want to give a standing ovation to the staff," said Stotland. The 200-plus attendees responded enthusiastically. Stotland then asked those gathered to give themselves a round of applause for their "extraordinary" patience, flexibility in the face of adversity, and determination to get on with their meetings. "Many had to walk down 14 flights of stairs practically in the dark," she noted.FIG1

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APA President Nada Stotland, M.D., addresses approximately 200 of the APA members who participated in this year's September components meeting. She gave updates on APA's submission of a report to Sen. Charles Grassley on pharmaceutical income and the status of APA's 2008 budget. 

Credit: David Hathcox

Then, shifting to Association business, Stotland commented on a few issues of great importance to APA members. She spoke of the inquiry by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) into the fiduciary relationships between psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry and between APA and the industry (Psychiatric News, September 5). She said that earlier that week, APA had sent Grassley an accounting of the revenue that companies in the pharmaceutical industry paid to APA over the past five years.

Stotland reminded her audience that psychiatry is not the only medical specialty under the microscope. "The whole entire medical profession and its relationship with [the pharmaceutical] industry is undergoing a sea change," she said. But APA has been ahead of the curve, she added, echoing the thoughts she'd expressed in her "From the President" column in the September 5 Psychiatric News.

"Last March, months before the senator's request, the Board established a work group ... charged with producing a report detailing our pharmaceutical revenues," she wrote in her column. And, in addition to the Association's long-established conflict-of-interest disclosure requirements, a work group was established "to develop guidelines for interactions between individual psychiatrists(in addition to our professional Association, APA) and medical industries," she wrote.

Another issue Stotland addressed at the plenary session concerned the reduction in the number of components (and thus members) participating in this year's meetings. It was decided that about 20 APA components could meet more cost-effectively via teleconference.

"We have had to cut back on our expenditures this year," Stotland said. The chief reason for this, she explained, is because of a decline in annual meeting and pharmaceutical advertising revenue. "We are not in a deficit position," she said. "However, we make midcourse [adjustments] to keep the budget balanced."

The plenary session ended with APA's chief information officer, William Bruce, giving a demonstration of Microsoft Office's" LiveMeeting." It's a high-tech meetings tool that, he said, could reduce the financial cost of Association meetings and reduce the time volunteers must devote in traveling to them.

With LiveMeeting, PC users with an Internet connection and Web browser can host or attend a meeting wherever they are. Meeting participants can see each other by Webcam, hear each other, and share documents in real time.

"We already have limited licensing for this and are using it to support some Assembly components, the Budget Committee, and some DSM-V work," Bruce said in an interview with Psychiatric News. "More expansion is planned for winter." ▪

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APA President Nada Stotland, M.D., addresses approximately 200 of the APA members who participated in this year's September components meeting. She gave updates on APA's submission of a report to Sen. Charles Grassley on pharmaceutical income and the status of APA's 2008 budget. 

Credit: David Hathcox

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