A New Summit

Reprinted from PN April 2011

PVA's "Summit 2011 & Expo—Delivering Excellence, Achieving State-of-the-Art Health Care," will bring together leaders in the field of spinal-cord injury and disease (SCI/D).

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Several months ago, I reported on our partnership with the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals (ASCIP). The main intention of this partnership was to generate a yearly conference to which people involved in the medical field could come together to explore avenues of mutual interest, research, and technology. I applauded this partnership not only because of its commitment to the attendees but also for the benefits which, down the road, would impact the health and lifestyles of the spinal-cord-injury community.

However, our mutual concepts and direction have digressed into different avenues. Discussions with ASCIP caused us to have serious reservations that our association could result in a positive product. After careful consideration, a decision to dissolve the partnership was reached.

Because of our perception of the significance and worth of this conference to those who are custodians of the health and well-being of our membership, I am proud to announce that Paralyzed Veterans of America will host a conference on our own in Orlando, Fla., in September 2011: “Summit 2011 & Expo—Delivering Excellence, Achieving State-of-the-Art Health Care.” Summit 2011 will bring together renowned leaders in the field of spinal-cord injury and disease (SCI/D).

Summit 2011 will focus on three main ideas: Sharing Knowledge and Building Skills—from the power of information through e-books to the power of advocacy, Delivering Optimal Patient Outcomes—through out-of-the-box thinking and innovative research and clinical practice guidelines, and Advancing Milestones—in SCI and multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment and cures. 

Number one of PVA’s key objectives is “to advocate and monitor the delivery of high-quality and appropriate healthcare benefits and services” for our members. We have to recognize for whom we advocate. A look at our membership rolls will immediately put you in the picture. You will note it consists of veterans with traumatic SCI and vets with diseases or dysfunction of the spinal cord such as MS and “Lou Gehrig’s disease” (ALS). ASCIP’s concept is to center the conference entirely on traumatic SCI. Their curriculum doesn’t include topics related to SCD. When we attempted to add this material, the Academy said they believed this inclusion would not be of significant value to conference attendees. PVA believes this is of such importance that we were left with no other decision but to host our own conference. We have included in our curriculum topics related to SCI afflictions, traumatic and dysfunctional.

Since a majority of PVA members receive their care in VA facilities, our interest was drawn to a conference agenda that would encompass special instruction solely for VA care providers. Unlike the Academy’s agenda, we will have instructional blocks for attendees who work in VA as well as those who work in the private sector. I can confirm from firsthand experience that the majority of the sessions during this conference are not for someone who is not highly trained in the field of medicine.

The conference title includes “Expo.” We have solicited and invited vendors of products that are beneficial and have a direct correlation to the SCI community to attend and showcase their products. This Expo will give these companies the opportunity to talk one-on-one with SCI care providers. Before the daily sessions begin, at breaks, and in the evening hours, company representatives will answer questions about their products. Most booths will have hands-on displays. At last year’s conference, I had the opportunity to personally check out several products. The intent of these vendors is to not only present the newest technology but also to encourage feedback from healthcare providers and people whose circumstances would directly benefit from their products. It is a win/win opportunity for manufacturers and SCI care professionals.

Because April marks PVA Awareness Month, chapters across the country will be holding special events at their local veteran hospitals. This would be a great opportunity for you to make an extra effort to join with them and participate. The little time you take out of your busy schedule can make all the difference in the world to a hospitalized vet.  


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