December 2020

President's Message

As we move into this season of giving and hope, I pray that peace, joy, love, and lots of laughter fill your homes. May we behold the spirit of wonder and awe, bringing us closer to a greater compassion for those around us. 2020 has had its unexpected challenges, and I hope as we reflect back on it, we can also count a few mini-blessings.
I think I can speak for all of us when I say 2020 was not what we had in mind. Still, I started 2020 with full expectations for a fabulous year, and even with all the challenges we faced, I can say the TMA Alliance did have a great year:

  • In the first month of 2020, Lisa Queralt (TMAA president 2019-20); our director, Pam Udall; and I road-tripped through West Texas. We met fabulous alliance members from Abilene, Midland, Odessa, and Amarillo. Since our trip, two alliance chapters have reunited and reinvigorated their activity – Potter-Randall and Midland. Big Country (Abilene) also hosted the Alliance Virtual Mini Regional Conference, adding its own special flair.
  • In the second month of 2020, Lisa and I visited Tyler to attend Smith County Medical Society Alliance’s Sweetheart Valentines banquet honoring veterans. We then went on to Fort Worth to attend Tarrant County’s Medicine Ball. Both events were amazing and wonderful.
  • In the third month of 2020, COVID-19 struck the U.S. full-force. My thoughts were probably similar to yours: What? A shutdown? This can’t be! Well, maybe for just a few weeks. Alliance members rose to the challenge, starting or assisting with personal protective equipment (PPE) drives in their communities.
  • In the fourth month of 2020, Lisa and I personally called alliance members to check in with them during the pandemic.
  • In the fifth month of 2020, Lisa passed the torch to me during our first virtual Annual Business Meeting. It was a huge success, with more than 60 alliance members tuning in from across the state.
  • In the sixth month of 2020, TMAA started our monthly County Leadership Listening Sessions, where we began meeting virtually with county leaders to share ideas, challenges, and successes.
  • In the seventh month of 2020, TMAA started the monthly TMAA Enrichment Series, hosting speakers from a wide array of specialties. Valerie Smith, MD, our first speaker, discussed how to handle the stress and uncertainty that were a result of the pandemic.
  • In the eighth month of 2020, TMAA held its future planning meeting virtually. Over the course of the day, we approved a new membership outreach plan and Allies in Medicine membership program, and updated the alliance bylaws. TMAA also pivoted the First Tuesdays in the Districts to a virtual format. Our first meeting was with Rep. Todd Hunter.
  • In the ninth month of 2020, the TMAA Board of Directors held our fall meeting over Zoom. We kicked off the Fall Fitness Challenge, which ran from September through the end of November and encouraged alliance members to take care of themselves through the pandemic.
  • In the 10th month of 2020, we turned the Regional Conference into a virtual Mini Regional Conference. Abilene was the host city and sent everyone who registered information and souvenirs from the city. It was a great success, with excellent speakers and a fun networking session.
  • In the 11th month of 2020, TMAA continued its year of virtual meetings, with planning underway for the Winter Conference and 2021 ALLMED.
  • And now, in the 12th and final month of 2020, I’m wishing you and your family a safe and happy holiday season.

Despite the challenges of this year, the TMA Alliance has not stopped working for you. We are committed to providing support for you during this stressful time. And don’t forget – our website is your go-to for information on your county alliance, membership messaging, joining or renewing your membership, community event ideas, and more. Go to to learn more.

Let us reflect on the good things 2020 has taught us. I think we all learned to slow our pace and enjoy quality time with our families or quiet reflection for oneself. Many of us have worked on old hobbies or taken up new ones.

My heart goes out to all who have suffered a loss of their loved ones. I pray you can find comfort and peace in this season. My hope is that 2021 will lead us on a path of hope for a brighter tomorrow, tranquility for working with all those around us for the good of humanity, and the joy of serving our communities and families.

Happy Holidays and wishing you a very Happy New Year!

Martha Vijjeswarapu
TMA Alliance 2020-21 President

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NEW: TMAA Mentorship Program

We’re excited to launch a new program to help the spouses of medical residents and early-career physicians connect with current alliance members. Allies in Medicine (AIM) is for current and potential alliance members across the state seeking fellowship, networking, community connection, and insider knowledge on how to navigate the life of a medical family. If you are a current alliance member and would like to volunteer as an Ally (mentor), email Pam Udall. Ally guidelines and expectations are available on the website.

If you know a resident or early-career spouse who is interested in being paired up with an Ally, please ask him or her to fill out this form or contact TMAA.

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Fall Fitness Challenge Winners

A huge thank-you to all who participated in our Fall Fitness Challenge. We had participants from all over the state competing for the most steps, cheering each other on, and working towards a healthier lifestyle.

After three months of hard work and commitment, we’re happy to announce the winners of our challenges:

Highest average activity minutes: Marsha Beth Gerdes (Bell County Medical Alliance)
Highest average daily step count: Virginia Profenna (Bexar County Medical Society Alliance)
Highest total activity minutes: Michelle Richardson (Bexar County Medical Society Alliance)
Highest total step count: Cloyce Stetson, MD (Lubbock County Medical Society Alliance)
Friendliest user: Jennifer Lewis (Bexar County Medical Society Alliance)

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you again to all who participated! We hope you will join us again in January to start your year off right.

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Register NOW for Winter Fitness Challenge

Whether you loved participating in our Fall Fitness Challenge this year, or had to miss out, you’re in luck! To help start 2021 off right, we will hold a second fitness challenge beginning Jan. 1. As in the last challenge, you will be able to participate in steps, activity minutes, or both – but now, we are introducing new challenge levels to allow you to compete with others.

Athlete: More than 15,000 steps OR more than 60 activity minutes per day
Active: Between 5,000-10,000 steps OR between 30-60 activity minutes per day
Casual: Up to 5,000 steps or up to 30 minutes of activity per day

The individual with the highest average steps/activity minutes within each of these levels will receive a prize. Sign up to be notified when registration opens in late December.

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2021 Membership Campaign Making Progress

Thanks for renewing your dues. It really makes a difference, as we work to wrap up the membership renewal campaign by the end of January. Be sure to ask your friends and colleagues to join the TMA Alliance too. During these trying times, we all need support and fellowship. The Family of Medicine is here for YOU.

If you haven’t renewed yet, look for an email in this month with your personalized auto-login information. All you need to do is click the link in the email, and it will take you directly to your TMAA account to renew your dues. [Note: Please do not forward this email to your colleagues, as the email is personalized to your account only.]

The full renewal notice schedule is below:
Dec. 9: Renewal email reminder
Jan. 13: Second mailed invoice + email reminder
Feb. 10: Email reminder
Mar. 9: Final invoice + email reminder
Mar. 31: Delinquent date

Ask your friends and colleagues to join the alliance. There are three ways to renew your dues or join:
1. Go online to (click on the blue “Renew” button in the upper-right corner if you’re a current member).
2. Call TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955 with credit card information.
3. Mail an application form or paper statement with a check to TMA Alliance, 401 W. 15th St., Austin, TX 78701.

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Order Your Hard Hats Helmets Today

The Texas Medical Association will pause the Hard Hats for Little Heads bike helmet giveaway program in early 2021 because community events are not safe at this time. TMA has 7,000 helmets available. If you plan to hold a Hard Hats event in 2021, order your helmets and supplies now. TMA’s remaining helmet inventory is available on a first-come, first-served basis for use during 2021. Helmets that bear the TMA logo cost $7.85 each (including shipping). With a purchase of helmets, TMA provides more helmets (an equal match up to 50). Physicians, medical students, and TMA Alliance chapters can purchase these helmets throughout December.

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Holiday Sharing Card: Donate $25 or More

TMAA’s Holiday Sharing Card Campaign is an annual fundraising appeal to support the TMA Foundation and the TMA and TMAA programs it funds, like Hard Hats for Little Heads – plus a NEW TMAA program, Texas Bookshare – set to launch next year. Our goal is to raise $5,000 by the end of this year. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.

Thank you in advance for your support this holiday season!

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2020 Alliance Highlights

Despite the limitations of not being able to see one another in person, TMAA and county alliances have adapted and continued to serve health needs in communities throughout Texas. Acting as individuals and in groups, alliance members have stepped in wherever possible. Much like during World War II, when many counties made bandages and organized drives for supplies, this year many members sewed masks, provided food to essential health care workers, and started drives to supply and disseminate PPE to physicians and health care providers and to community residents.

One of the biggest adaptations each county has managed is learning to meet virtually and communicate electronically. As trusted members of their communities and the Family of Medicine, alliance social media accounts became places to spread important health information and provide an educated, nonpolitical voice to be distinguished amid a lot of noise. Counties shared government health recommendations, TMA health information, resources, videos, and more. Almost every county chapter has held board and general meetings via Zoom. We ALL deserve a big pat on the back for adopting this new technology! Better yet, it hasn’t been all seriousness – counties have really been creative in planning fun virtual events such as bingo, cooking lessons, and even crafts.

Each county has been through so much this year. However, despite the challenges the Family of Medicine has faced this year, we have really made a difference. There is no way to list each generous act or helpful thing each member has done, but here are some highlights:

Bell County Medical Alliance

On multiple occasions, Bell County Medical Alliance worked to get PPE out to the community. Members sewed cloth masks for use in nonmedical settings. In addition, they obtained and distributed masks and PPE to health care workers. A fun tradition for this alliance is participating in the annual American Cancer Society’s Bra Brunch. Former two-time President Amee Tuggle always creates an amazing bra and organizes donations. This year, Bell County still supported her creativity, raising more than $5,400 for breast cancer research.

Bexar County Medical Society Alliance

Bexar County held Zoom meetings and some really fun virtual events, including a nutrition class. Members were also savvy enough to make their alliance a charity you can choose in AmazonSmile! Their Facebook page featured many helpful informative posts, as well as Bexar County Medical Society’s short, live videos offering specific information related to COVID-19. A huge success for this group is its community collaboration. Leveraging their relationships, members were able to obtain donated hand sanitizer from Tito’s and masks from the Mitchell Chang Foundation, and worked with a book publisher and local printer to obtain free copies of We’re Going to Be O.K., a children’s book about dealing with life in the pandemic. In addition, one member helped create an information sheet in English and Spanish to help “Stop the Spread.” BCMSA was able on multiple dates to give low-income families bags with masks, information, hand sanitizer, and the books. One event even included Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia, PhD, someone in the community with whom this alliance has a great relationship.

Big Country County Medical Society Alliance

Big Country has been able to conduct business remotely using emails and Zoom. It also hosted the 2020 Regional Conference, putting together a wonderful history of the Abilene area and mailing out amazing swag bags to attendees.

Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation

Dallas County has continued to meet via Zoom, including a general meeting that featured a panel with epidemiologists discussing COVID-19. This alliance also was able to safely have a general meeting in the Hall of State Building and listen to a talk presented by the Dallas Historical Society. Throughout the pandemic, the alliance has continued raising funds for medical scholarships and operation of the Aldredge House.

Lubbock County Medical Society Alliance

Lubbock is home to TMAA President-Elect Libby Evans-White. This county alliance has a strong medical presence since its current presidents are both MDs, and it works very closely with the Lubbock County Medical Society. The alliance was able to partner with nursing students and doctors to put on a vaccine clinic this fall. A special virtual event included a story time online read by the child author of Diary of a Hard Hearing Kid.

Nueces County Medical Society Alliance

The pandemic did not slow down the Nueces County Medical alliance this fall! It was able to continue the tradition of volunteering at the Coastal Bend Food Bank. The alliance also partnered with several local businesses to give portions of proceeds of sales to its Shop With a Cop program, allowing for days and days of online shopping at multiple vendors. In October, Nueces used funds from a TMA grant to supply more than 150 hygiene kits to its adopted school. Alliance members also collected books and clothes for children in this school. They held two vaccine clinics in October and November and invited State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa to attend one.

Smith County Medical Society Alliance

Like many of us during this pandemic, the Smith County alliance has had to make some adjustments. For more than 50 years, the alliance has run a biannual Book Fair to raise funds for its work. This year, it made the tough decision to sell the building and end the physical store. While the book fair was well known and loved within the community, we applaud the Smith County alliance leadership in making this tough decision and look forward to seeing what’s on the horizon for this group. We’d also like to congratulate the alliance on the many years of scholarships it has provided for its home county! In addition to these big developments, the alliance recently hosted an in-person social lunch with a mixologist.

Tarrant County Medical Society Alliance

Tarrant was able to host a mix of live and virtual activities this fall. It started off with a Be Wise – ImmunizeSM event in September. Throughout October, the alliance raised money and donations of hoodies and warm clothes for homeless children in Tarrant County. Another great kid activity was an online mask decorating contest! What a great way to make masks fun. In addition to online events and membership drives, Tarrant was able to have a live Walk for Wellness event to help relieve some stress.
Be Wise – Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.

Travis County Medical Alliance

Like many groups, Travis has been able to adapt to having online meetings and social events and do PPE drives. The alliance was able to continue with efforts started from early in the year by giving away blood pressure monitors to the Volunteer Healthcare Clinic. Throughout October it raised funds online for the Volunteer Healthcare Clinic and St. Louise House, which helps homeless women, and the Travis County Medical Society Physician Wellness Program. The alliance was also able to put on a flu vaccine clinic in October.

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COVID-19 Resources

TMA’s COVID-19 Resource Center has ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, including guides on personal protective equipment distribution, resources on practice viability, and much more. Be sure to bookmark the page and check it frequently to stay up to date on COVID-19 in Texas.

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Upcoming Events

In addition to the events below, please be sure to check out our new calendar, where you can sort events by county. If your chapter has an upcoming event you would like featured, email details (date, time, location, ticket prices, description) to Sasha.

Jan. 1
TMAA Fitness Challenge – with new tiered activity levels and awards categories! Pre-register.