June 2020

President's Message

I am honored to serve as the 103rd president of the TMA Alliance. I’m looking forward to meeting you and learning how TMAA can help your chapter thrive. Lisa Queralt, our immediate past president, set the bar high, as she led the alliance with passion, creativity, and connectivity.

Even though we are starting the year under very unusual circumstances, I plan to continue holding county leadership “listening sessions.” I had the opportunity to travel with Lisa when she held these and found them invaluable. It was fun to meet county leaders across the state, experience local culture, and learn about their chapter.

In fact, we already started, holding a Zoom meeting with county presidents to learn how they were coping with the pandemic and their concerns moving forward. As a result of that meeting, TMAA is setting up monthly programming to address issues like how to cope with uncertainty, how to lead in our new virtual world, and how to engage your advocacy base as we enter another legislative session.

Our members are invaluable to us. TMAA is made up of very resilient people who share the passion of advocating for the profession of medicine, patients, our communities, and our families. The alliance today is made up of physician spouses (men and women) with full-time careers who are entrepreneurs, parents, and community leaders. With the pandemic, many of us are wearing even more hats. Let’s continue supporting one another through this time. Remember: We are the Family of Medicine. If you know of a physician spouse who is new to the community or has yet to join, please reach out to say we are here for him or her.

I know many of you are hosting virtual events to keep in touch. We would love to share photos and information about these get-togethers on our Facebook page and in upcoming Monthly Memos, so please send pictures and details to tmaa@texmed.org. We also would like to give a shout-out to anyone with a new baby, grandbaby, wedding, or other exciting event in your family, so send those as well - it’s important that we keep up with the positive news in our world, and not just news headlines.

It's going to be a great year as we navigate new ways to connect and advocate, and hopefully soon ... we can meet again in person.

We will get through this together.

Martha Vijjeswarapu
TMA Alliance 2020-21 President

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Save the Date: Coping with Stress & Uncertainty During COVID-19

Presented by Valerie Smith, MD, MPH, FAAP

As part of a new series of online enrichment webinars, TMAA is bringing in Dr. Smith to speak on how to deal with uncertainty during COVID-19. The webinar is open to all TMAA members. This month's webinar aims to provide tools to help cope with the additional stress that physician families are facing during COVID-19. Dr. Smith is a pediatrician from Tyler. Her practice focuses on caring for children in foster care and addressing social determinants of health in clinical and community settings. Dr. Smith co-chairs the TMA Subcommittee on Behavioral Health and is a member of the Council on Science and Public Health.

Thursday, June 18
Noon-1 pm

A recording of the webinar will be made available afterwards.

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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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"Be a Good Neighbor. Be a Texan."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most Walk With a Doc Texas chapters canceled or postponed their walks. Now that Texas is slowly reopening, you may want to restart your walk.

TMA’s top priority is the safety of you and your participants. As you contemplate bringing your group back together, consider this message from Gov. Greg Abbott: “If you go out in public, stay six feet apart from others, wear a face covering, and wash your hands regularly. Be a good neighbor. Be a Texan. Together, we’re going to make our way through this.”

Remember, staying active is good for our body and our mental health. Consider these topics for your next health talk:

If you have questions about restarting your walk -- or starting a walk -- contact Debra Heater.

Walk With a Doc Texas is funded by a grant from the TMA Foundation with generous support from TMA Insurance Trust, Baylor Scott & White Health, and Prudential.

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Hard Hats Promotes Safe Exercise During Social Distancing

Social-distancing recommendations call for creative community outreach. To help kids get outside and enjoy safe exercise, TMA encourages you to explore new ways to host a Hard Hats for Little Heads event in your community.

If you support a youth organization, church, or underserved community, consider providing helmets for children there. Travis County Medical Alliance has provided helmets for years to two clinics – People’s Community Clinic and East Austin Community Clinic – where helmets are given to children during well-checks.

Jenny Stern, Travis County Medical Alliance vice president-elect of community service, said this partnership allows them to provide helmets and safe-use information to young clients and their families.

The alliance also gives helmets at the Junior League’s Coats for Kids Community Fair. Hard Hats “is a great way to fulfill the Alliance’s mission of working for a healthier Central Texas,” Jenny said.

To receive an order packet, email Tammy Wishard, TMA outreach coordinator, or call her at (512) 370-1470.

Hard Hats for Little Heads is supported in 2020 with a grant from the TMA Foundation.

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County Alliance Spotlight: Bell County Medical Alliance

Bell County is located an hour north of Austin, and includes multiple cities: Belton, Harker Heights, Killeen, Nolanville, Salado, and Temple.

Early-Career Family Support
The Bell County Medical Alliance (BCMA) just completed its centennial year under the helm of Amee Tuggle, immediate past president (and second-time president). Amee and her leadership had to make the tough call in March to reschedule BCMA’s annual fundraiser and celebration, Casino Night, due to COVID-19.

Casino Night was not only going to offer an opportunity to celebrate BCMA’s 100-year milestone, but also is the alliance’s annual scholarship fundraiser for medical students, residents, and fellows. Since it is such a personal cause for our medical families, BCMA pivoted quickly and dedicated the funds raised to help celebrate graduating residents and fellows as social distancing hindered or canceled many graduation celebrations. BCMA gave 134 graduating residents and fellows handwritten notes and $50 Amazon gift cards to commemorate their milestone.

Community Outreach and Advocacy
It is not the first time BCMA stepped in to fill a community or Family of Medicine need. The members provide snacks for volunteers at free clinics, and have run a Meals on Wheels route for more than 35 years! During the COVID-19 pandemic, BCMA recognized community support efforts were focused on emergency department and ICU staff but not on the many other departments on the front line. One of these was the Molecular Lab of the Baylor Scott & White hospital running COVID-19 testing - not just for Bell County but also for other regions and counties. BCMA was the first to deliver lunch to this lab team, who was working nonstop supporting our physicians and other team members in the front lines.

Advocacy doesn’t stop there. BCMA members host Hard Hats for Little Heads events annually at low-income schools; support Walk With a Doc; and put on the Non-Event Event, a strictly mail-out fundraiser to support health-related charities and organizations in the community, like Ronald Mc Donald House and the free clinics in Temple, Belton, and Killeen.

BCMA was the first county alliance in Texas to launch the Texas BookShare Program with funding from a TMA Foundation grant. BCMA also has supported Hard Hats for Little Heads events for other counties that had either no or a brand new alliance. BCMA provided free helmets to the new alliance in Brownsville, and hosted Hard Hats for Little Heads events in Hansford, Reagan, and Runnels counties, which do not have alliances. Furthermore, BCMA has supported local efforts in pain education to address one of the root causes of the opioid crisis.

BCMA also works hard to maintain positive and strong relationships with its Texas congressional and state legislative representatives through First Tuesdays in the Districts, First Tuesdays at the Capitol, and local county events and meetings.

County, State Leadership and Events
Not only is this alliance full of caring members who work hard to serve in Bell County, but also its members have a history of serving at the state level. Cheryl Jones and Karen Lairmore each served as TMAA president and BCMA president. Martha Howell, EdD, is the current BCMA president and TMAA vice president of fiscal affairs.

BCMA is looking toward the future with creativity and flexibility. The board is planning events with both safe in-person options and virtual options, such as wine tasting. In the past, BCMA has held creative social events including a trip to the gun range and gun safety class, glass blowing events, and cooking classes.

In addition to inviting potential members to couple and family events, BCMA focuses on partnering with physician-in-training alliance members and the Bell County Medical Society.  The alliance has helped increase physician engagement in the county by highlighting the value of TMA membership.

This county is in the heart of Texas and full of members with lots of heart!

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TMA Grants Support Your Shot Clinics

Vaccination rates have dropped during the pandemic. And a possible second surge of COVID-19 this fall makes flu shots even more important, to avoid overloading hospitals. If you’re wondering what you can do, consider hosting a TMA Be Wise – Immunize shot clinic to improve your community’s immunity.

Local Impact Grants of up to $2,500 are available to support local shot clinics or education events. July 15 is the deadline to apply for events for the remainder of 2020 and during the early months of 2021.

Think outside the box: a drive-through clinic in conjunction with a local food bank or at a school you support, and more. To discuss ideas for events, email Tammy Wishard, TMA outreach coordinator, or call her at (512) 370-1470.

Be Wise – Immunize is funded in 2020 by the TMA Foundation, thanks to major support from H-E-B and Permian Basin Youth Chavarim.

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We are running a new feature in the Monthly Memo to answer frequently asked questions from our membership. Three common points of confusion are these:

Q. Does membership run from January to December or from May to May each year?
A. TMAA membership runs from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 annually. We start the annual membership renewal campaign in September to ensure everyone’s membership is renewed by the start of the year. 2021 membership will be collected from September 2020 to March 2021.

Q. Does TMAA run on a fiscal-year budget or calendar-year budget?
A. The TMAA budget is a calendar-year budget, and includes income and expenses from January through December annually.

Q. Why do I have to pay state dues? What do I get for my $50 investment?
Your $50 investment gives you access to TMA outreach programs, marketing and communications consulting and support, funding for membership recruitment and retention events, membership invoicing, TMAA website and Facebook page, the TMAA Monthly Memo, and more. Check out the ROI calculator  to learn more.

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TEXPAC Offer for Alliance Members

You are not alone in this crisis. ... TEXPAC stands with our members in the fight against COVID-19. Support TEXPAC by donating NOW to keep physicians front and center next legislative session. Medicine will be the No. 1 issue, and TEXPAC needs to lead the conversation. We need to elect those who will STAND with medicine! In light of the financial difficulties many of our members are facing, we have lowered TEXPAC Alliance membership from $55 to only $40 for the year. Join today to help TEXPAC prepare for the biggest battle since the 2003 tort reform fight!

Log in to the TEXPAC site and renew your dues, or click “Donate Now” on the home page and use the “Other” button to do a quick donation without signing in.

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.

June 18
TMAA Webinar: Coping with Stress & Uncertainty During COVID-19
Register here

Sept. 10-12
TMA/TMAA Fall Conference

Oct. 2
TMAA Regional Conference