Despite setbacks caused by the pandemic, nearly 500 people attended CMA’s conference virtually and onsite in an event that Executive Director Mario Dickerson said raised the bar for future conferences.
Conference Chair Dr. Craig Treptow couldn’t agree more.
“We have now demonstrated that a successful hybrid conference can be done,” he said. “Not everyone can travel to a live conference. For those who are homebound because of restrictions, or for those health care providers who can’t take time off, this idea of streaming talks with later playback opportunities is enormous. They can still feel like they are participating as a member of the CMA.”
The hybrid conference took place Sept. 25-26, 2020 with a smaller gathering of onsite attendees at the Hilton Garden Inn in Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania. Presentations and breakout sessions covered various topics that dealt with the theme of the conference, “Medicine’s Integrity: Reclaiming the Doctor-Patient Relationship.”
“In our times, we see frequent threats that affect the ability of physicians to practice as healers in the art of medicine,” Dr. Treptow explained. “Society is tempted to look at physicians as mere vending machines, and political movements threaten to demand that health care providers adhere to the current political interpretation. With these talks, we are reminded of our ultimate purpose in maintaining our integrity and relationship with our patients.”
The presentations covered topics ranging from attacks on religious liberty and freedom of conscience to educational, cultural, and economic issues that depersonalize the relationship between the doctor and patient. A special presentation was given by Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood executive director who wrote a book about what led her to leave her position at Planned Parenthood to become an advocate for life in the womb. Her book was made into the movie “Unplanned.” Through her nonprofit, And Then There Were None, she helps those wanting to leave the abortion industry transition out. A fierce pro-life advocate, the CMA honored Johnson with the Evangelium Vitae Award for her work.
Keynote Speaker Raymond Arroyo rounded out the conference with an engaging presentation on Finding Hope in Unexpected Places at the closing banquet dinner. In his presentation, he spoke about Mother Angelica, the founder of EWTN, and how her example of faith, especially in the midst of adversity, brought hope to so many millions of people.
“One does not need to be perfect to be a sign and a vessel of hope,” he told the audience. He explained that God will work through one’s imperfections to bring hope to others. The only thing needed he said was faith because “hope requires faith.”
Several attendees joined “watch parties” with their guilds or other members. One of those members was Dr. Amber Day, secretary of the Cincinnati Guild of the CMA, who noted that half of the attendees at the guild’s watch party were experiencing the conference for the first time.
“I was grateful to be able to share the experience with them. It certainly enhanced the virtual conference experience by allowing for fellowship and reflection in between talks,” she said. “As for the conference, I felt inspired by our CMA colleagues who are actively working to heal the doctor-patient relationship and offering practical advice and encouragement for the rest of us to follow.”
Other highlights included the celebration of the first ever Traditional Latin Mass at the conference, celebrated by the Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, J.C.D., Archbishop of San Francisco; the presentation of a spiritual bouquet of gratitude to Father Matthew Gutowski for his nearly ten years of service as the national chaplain; and the presentation of several awards including the Outstanding Guild Award given to the Denver Guild of the CMA, Outstanding Guild Chaplain Award given to Father Peter Muhich, S.T.L., Outstanding Student Chapter Award given to Indiana University School of Medicine, and the Distinguished Guardian of Faith Award given to Drs. Marie-Alberte Boursiquot, John A. Schirger, Angeli M. Akey, and Barbara Harty Golder.
“Despite the difficult times we face as Catholic physicians and health care professionals, the members of the CMA remain dedicated to Christ in their practice of medicine,” said President Dr. Michael Parker. “This is evidenced through the meaningful and inspiring work which has earned several of our members awards this year.”