Friday, February 10, 2006

From the UHMS - "A Few Important Things"

This is a letter from Don Chandler, Executive Director, UHMS.

To All--

In this issue of my occasional mass email to our members you will find information on the following important UHMS issues:

1. UHMS Response to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Challenges.
2. Synopsis on Actions of the UHMS Board of Directors Meeting of 28 January.
3. Fitness to Dive Course Very Helpful to Those Who Take the Specialty Board Exam in Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine.
4. U.S./Japan Panel on Diving Physiology, Diving Technology, and Aerospace Medicine Meeting Scheduled for Kauai, Hawaii.
5. Nominations for UHMS Officers
6. Nominations for UHMS Annual Awards.
7. Good news from New Orleans.
8. A Marine Expedition prior to the June 2007 40th Anniversary Meeting in Maui.

1. UHMS Response to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Challenges. First, let me refer you to our website for a complete rundown on what we are doing about the BC/BS issues. This will be a brief of that action. As many of you know, some of the state "Blues" organizations have again changed their minds about the conditions for which they will reimburse the cost of hyperbaric oxygen treatment (shades of the 80's! - or was it the 90's?). We first heard about such shenanigans in Idaho, then Hawaii, then....and on it went. Several state "Blues" organizations are jumping ship on some conditions and moving them to their "investigational" category. We have learned from one BC/BS representative (yes, UHMS representatives have met with some of the BC/BS representatives) who opined that the "Blues" are not necessarily opposed to hyperbaric medicine, but what they did was purely a business decision to cut costs somewhere and hyperbaric medicine just happened to be what was chosen. The UHMS was quick to react to this looming potential crisis by establishing a task force to gather information and develop a strong response to what the "Blues" are doing. Dr. Bob Warriner is Chair of the UHMS Task Force and he informs us that he expects to have enough information to approach the BC/BS national leaders with said response. HOWEVER, he and our Task Force members can't do everything alone...they need your help. If you read the complete explanation on what we are doing, you will see that we need you to fax every letter of denials for hyperbaric oxygen treatment based on non-coverage to Tom Workman at (210) 404-1535. Tom will tabulate them into the report that our Task Force will give to the BC/BS national leaders. ALSO, we need you to send Tom the name of your BC/BS associated insurance company medical director and his/her contact information. You help us and together we'll get this rather arbitrary BC/BS business decision reversed.

2. Synopsis on Actions of the UHMS Board of Directors Meeting of 28 January. The following synopsis represents the action of our latest Board of Directors meeting in Copper Mountain, Colorado:
The BOD recognizes the importance of recruitment and retention of new UHMS members. We will re-structure the Membership Committee with these goals as their imperative. We also outline some facets of membership that the home office will try to assist with regarding membership recruitment. If any members have ideas or energy to assist with recruiting new members, please let me know.
Stimulated by Mike Mueller, our President will assign a task force to look into training standards and assisting with identifying physicians and other hyperbaric medicine personnel for hyperbaric medicine.
The BNA has a robust membership of 187 members. In addition they now can offer CEUs for approved courses.
The Associate membership has grown by 9% in the last year.
The BNA and Associates are planning a pre-course at our next Annual Scientific Meeting dealing with the complex patient.
Bret Stolp President-elect reported that the applications for the Executive Director search closes June 1, 2006.
Please send nominations for UHMS Awards to Dr. Sanchez (, copy to Don Chandler (
Please submit nominations for UHMS Officers to Bret Stolp (, copy to Don Chandler.
Ron Bangasser submitted a draft for Attachment B of our By-laws. This Attachment outlines criteria for Fellowship designation by the UHMS. The draft will be disseminated to interested members and we anticipate a vote to accept the Attachment at our next BOD meeting.
Bob Warriner plans to complete recommendations about whether the UHMS should have a Virtual v. Physical office by April 1, 2006. The Board will meet by teleconference to review Dr. Warriner’s recommendations.
We recognize the lack of an appropriate, FDA-approved intravenous infusion pump for hyperbaric medicine. The Associates are working on this issue and I have contacted administrators of various IV pump companies to stimulate interest in this regard. In addition, we will try to solve the JACHO issue of lack of back-flow protection of existing hyperbaric IV pumps.
3. Fitness to Dive Course Very Helpful to Those Who Take the Specialty Board Exam in Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine. Recently, I have heard from several physicians who have attended our Fitness to Dive course and who have told me that taking the course helped them a lot when they took the ABPM Specialty Board exam in Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine. One physician who did not pass the Board exam said that the Fitness to Dive course was nevertheless a great help. This is good news and I encourage all physicians in our fields of medicine to register for the course. We do two classes each year; one in the spring and one in the fall. Our next course is in Charleston, SC on March 16-19, and, yes, we do still have room for more. The 2006 fall course will be at the NOAA training center in Seattle, Washington on October 5-8. We have had nothing but outstanding reviews of those who have taken the course. We also invite Nurse Practitioners and EMT's to join us but we cannot certify them as we do physicians, albeit they do get attendance certificates to prove they were exposed to the course content. Go to our website and sign up, you'll not be sorry!

4. U.S./Japan Panel on Diving Physiology, Diving Technology, and Aerospace Medicine Meeting Scheduled for Kauai, Hawaii. This U.S./Japan panel has been in existence for over a quarter century and has provided an excellent forum for presenting scientific papers and papers of general interest from Japan and the United States. It is a three day meeting and has historically been well attended with about an even split of Japanese and American attendees. Recent meetings have also included some presentations from persons who hail from other countries, which we welcome. Two years ago we expanded the topics of interest to include Aerospace Medicine and we are expecting several papers this year from that field of medicine in addition to the usual diving medicine topics. We have a meeting every two years, one in Japan and the next in the U.S. The next meeting is scheduled for October 19-21, 2006 at the Sheraton Resort on the beautiful, and very laid back, island of Kauai. We will post the registration form and other information on our website within a few days. I encourage you to plan on attending this interesting panel and to present a paper if you are so inclined. All we need to get things started is for you to send me an abstract at I will take this and add it to the others and will inform you by late summer whether your paper is accepted. We also welcome anyone who wants to just come and listen to others present their papers.

5. Nominations for UHMS Officers. There is still time to nominate one or more of our members for officer vacancies, but time is short. In order to comply with our Constitution and By-Laws, we must close the officer nominations by Friday, February 17th. In case you don't have a calendar in front of you, that's day six of next week. We do have at least one nominee for each of our vacancies, but it would be good to have more several choices for each position. See our website for a nominating form.

6. Nominations for UHMS Annual Awards. We have several nominees for awards this year, but could take more. The award nominations will remain open until April 1, 2006. At that time I will send all the nominations to our Chair, Dr. Cuau Sanchez and we will meet in committee (via telephone) to vote on those we will recommend to our Board of Directors. Unless there are unplanned delays, we must have our selections made by May 1st and can then inform the interested parties of the outcome.

7. Good news from New Orleans. I saw Keith VanMeter at our Board of Directors meeting and was able to talk with him briefly before he was off to return to NO to continue his quest to get Charity Hospital re-opened. He told me that they were getting "very close" to getting Charity opened again and, in the meantime, they were continuing to provide medical services from tents that have been erected on the plaza just outside Charity. Great work Keith! We'll be pulling for you and let us know if we can be of help.

8. A Marine Expedition prior to the June 2007 40th Anniversary Meeting in Maui. Just recently I signed papers to engage the Agressor Fleet for a week-long live-aboard dive expedition out of Kona, Hawaii that will be from Saturday afternoon on June 2nd through Saturday, June 9th. From there, the divers who sign on for this trip of a lifetime will be within the "3 days before and 3 days after" rule for our annual meeting venue and will be able to travel direct to Maui and get the reduced room rate that we have negotiated for our annual meeting attendees. Dr. Richard Smerz, Medical Director at the Hyperbaric Treatment Center in Honolulu is our primary contact for this expedition and will be providing some professional level medical lectures during the week. We at the home office will be submitting a request to our Education Committee for CME approval...if our Education Committee approves the lectures for CME hours, each physician who goes with the expedition will not only have a week of unequalled diving, but will also take away some CME hours. There are only fourteen (14) bunks on the Kona Agressor II with ten two-bunk rooms and one four-bunk room. The cost for the two bunk rooms is $2,195 and the cost for the four-bunk room is $1,995. If you are interested in joining this happy crew, please telephone Dick Smerz at 808-587-3425 and reserve your spot. Dick will send you a packet of information and inform us here at the home office. We will send you a form which you will need to fill out and send back to us with the payment information. We would prefer getting the total amount up front, but we are willing to permit payments and can accept 1/2 down with two remaining payments, the first due on 1 September, 2006 and the second and last one due on 1 April 2007. This will permit us to make the payments we have agreed to make with the Agressor Fleet. I think these slots will fill up fast. We will arrange for a "wait list" just incase some who sign on must cancel out for one reason or another. Sign up now to guarantee a slot!

That's it for now. The best to all of you.