Passing the Torch

Almost one year ago to the day, I took the stage in Austin at the 2018 ACOG Annual Meeting and began my presidency. What a wonderful year it’s been!

I was so excited to get started on my three presidential initiatives as I took office. I knew that I would focus on preventing maternal mortality and I am so happy to say that we made great progress this year. 

My first initiative was advocacy on state and federal levels to establish maternal mortality review committees. ACOG members more than stepped up to the challenge: In December of 2018, ACOG contributed hugely to the passing of the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, which provides infrastructure and support for maternal mortality review committees at the state level. Things are moving quickly, and the CDC has already released the notification of funding opportunity.

My second initiative emphasized strengthening the culture of patient safety in hospitals by implementing the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health program. We made great progress on this goal when ACOG received a $2 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration that enabled us to expand the program to 27 states. 

My final initiative was updating ACOG’s clinical guidance for heart disease in pregnancy, which, as the leading cause of maternal mortality, accounts for nearly 25% of maternal deaths. Read more about ACOG’s informative new resource on this topic at the end of the blog. 

With national attention focused on maternal mortality, we had wonderful opportunities for collaboration. Working with the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Emergency Physicians on my Pregnancy and Heart Disease Task Force and collaborating with the more than 15 organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, who partnered with us for a summit on maternal mental health really drove home the important role that these partnerships can play in amplifying our voices.

I’ve also had the opportunity to travel to so many District and Section meetings, where I got to see many old friends and make new ones. Our ACOG members are doing so many great things to advance our profession and improve women’s health!

My presidency was unique in that I also took on the role of interim CEO. Filling in as the interim CEO gave me the opportunity to work in our Washington, D.C., office with the people who keep ACOG running behind the scenes: our national staff. It has been a privilege to get to know our incredible team and see how hard they work every day to help our members. For example, our facilities team keeps ACOG running smoothly so that everyone can do their jobs, and our Resource Center, which also houses an obstetrics and gynecology museum, provides information for anyone who seeks it. Our IT team is partnering with our Marketing and Communications team to complete the new ACOG website we’ll be launching later this year. Our Finance team creates budgets, assesses projects, and processes reimbursements from members like you. The Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive and Coding HelpDesks, and the staff that keep them running, support members and fulfill their day-to-day practice management needs. From Publications to Development, Membership to District and Section Activities, ACOG staff work incredibly hard to deliver value to our members. ACOG’s team is dedicated to understanding member needs and ensuring that busy clinicians can make the most of the limited time they have. 

Earlier in the blog I hinted at a new resource that will fulfill my third initiative. I’m proud to announce a new Practice Bulletin on pregnancy and heart disease, which was published in this month’s Green Journal. This bulletin addresses screening, diagnosis, and management of cardiovascular disease in women before, during, and after pregnancy. The bulletin also covers pregnancy-related complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes that are associated with increased lifelong cardiovascular risk and provides recommendations to help us deliver better care to women who need it. While this guidance is a great step in the right direction, it’s up to us as women’s health care clinicians to implement these recommendations.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your ACOG president this past year. I can’t wait to see how ACOG’s amazing members continue to advance women’s health care.