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
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
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." ▪