President’s Report 2007
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Now ends another year and we begin a new one. It is a pleasure to inform you of achievements in 2007,
which saw several new and exciting developments, and to offer a view of who we can be in 2008.
The cornerstone of our work has been to develop and present contemporary medical educational programs
of the highest quality. The 2007 Annual Conference chaired by Dr Phil Adamo and dinner meetings under
the stewardship of Dr Sandy Stratford, continued the trend in the recent few years of realizing a marked
increase in useful teaching sessions and record participation. With the keynote address on the global
environment presented at AC 2006 by Dr Hu, we established ourselves as the first ACOEM component
dedicated to understanding our mission as environmental medicine specialists and, therefore, as leaders
among caretakers of the Earth’s health. In 2007, we saw the world finally turn in this direction with the help
of Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” and “The Climate Project”. Some of us have urged that we continue this
dedication to what has become the most imminent health danger in human history, and so you will learn
more tomorrow morning when you attend a session that draws upon the work of The Climate Project and
the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment.
Also, in keeping with our mission to promote primary prevention of workplace and environmental hazards,
I am proud to say that for the first time NECOEM, in partnership with the New England component of the
American Industrial Hygiene Association, held a very well attended joint dinner lecture series. It was so
successful that we hope to continue to offer a joint dinner meeting with our industrial hygiene colleagues
yearly as we have much to learn from each other. All indications are that this 2007 Annual Conference is
keeping pace with record attendance and revenues, thanks to the joint efforts by our nurse colleagues,
MaAOHN. In 2008, we will explore further joint opportunities with EMS, NP and PA professionals.
Recently, we have begun to explore a fascinating new method of furthering educational opportunities via
pod-casting, and we are initiating discussions with the Center on Continuing Professional Education of
Harvard School of Public Health. This would enable subscribers to “learn-on-the-go”, conveniently. In
addition, NECOEM is offering ABPM Maintenance of Certification credit for all our Annual
Conference educational activities going forward.
I cannot tell you how good it is to be able to report to you the new partnership upon which we have
embarked this past summer with our friends and colleagues of the Occupational and Environmental
Medicine Association of Connecticut (OEMAC), which represents more than 80 members. NECOEM, in a
2-year joint agreement, now provides OEMAC with administrative consultation through our Executive
Director, Dianne Plantamura, whose seasoned expertise, kindness and dedication has been a blessing for us
all. Our mutual goal is to help promote the educational missions of both organizations and to increase
access to our educational programs. We plan some joint activities, beginning with an OEMAC meeting here
at the NECOEM Annual Conference. A member of the Board of Directors from each organization now has
an invitational seat at all of our respective Directors meetings. We expect this to be the beginning of a long
and mutually beneficial relationship, and those who worked to make it happen are dedicated to this concept.
There is further good news about our efforts in 2006 and 2007 when a number of us worked to provide the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts with a firm rationale for upward adjustment of worker compensation fee
reimbursement rates, Massachusetts having the lowest rates of all 50 states. Recently, a rate increase has
been approved and will be effective in early 2008. Credit for this effort is due in significant measure to
representations made by the DIA Health Care Services Board, which is chaired by one of our esteemed
members, Dr. Dean Hashimoto. NECOEM, with reference to its state affiliates, will continue to promote
equitability in reimbursement rates, not only for worker compensation care, but also for impartial exams.
Some of our members have been exploring how we might better educate our colleagues in the legal
profession for better outcomes in disputed worker compensation injury and illness claims. In 2008,
NECOEM will consider hosting with the MA Department of Industrial Accidents and the MA Bar
Association an educational conference that brings our medical expertise to bear.
With regard to finances, I will direct you to the Treasurer’s report. Suffice to say, we have been doing well
in terms of sponsorship, educational program participation, and retaining membership. Yet, membership
retention is a perennial focus of our efforts. Dr Neil Hass of VT has been our membership leader and has
worked hard. We have recently begun efforts to look to regional component associations of nurse
practitioners and physician assistants, because we realize that their role in provision of occupational medical
care has become so vital.
This year, we amended our bylaws with clauses on dissolution and conflict of interest, and applied for tax-
exempt status as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. As we continue to grow financially, formalization
of our tax status became imperative in order to avoid having to pay taxes unnecessarily. I am pleased to
report that tax-exempt status has been approved.
The face of NECOEM continues to present itself professionally and optimistically in the form of our
website (www.necoem.org) and with our newsletter, NECOEM Reporter, now edited by Dr Craig Curtis of
Maine. Craig has done a great job in his first year as editor, and it is not an easy task. Here, I wish to
mention the loss of one of our members in 2007, Dr Alaine Coutourier of Maine, who was well published
and who was to have assumed the editorship of the Reporter until he unexpectedly fell ill. We will miss him
very much. As for our website, Dr Mark Glencross has continued to provide us with a state-of-the-art
website. We are deeply grateful to these skilled gentlemen for their selfless efforts to make NECOEM a
leading educational component of the ACOEM.
Speaking of leadership, our other mission, NECOEM members continue to step forth to serve. It is my
pleasure today to have one of our own once again, Dr Bob McClellan of NH, to serve as President of the
ACOEM. Also in service this year on the ACOEM Board of Directors is Dr Bill Patterson of MA.
We all know that among us are great talents, skills and personalities. We all know that among us are people
who care deeply about their patients, communities and the environment. Many of us look beyond what we
know for better answers, solutions, and ways of helping and communicating. We all deep down want to
make a difference with our lives and with the privilege to which we have been entrusted as caregivers.
Some of us have served in war and others have protested it. Some of us are carrying out cutting edge
research with profound practical implications for patients, industries and local communities. Some of us are
educators and public speakers skilled in “getting it right” on issues of risk, hazards, toxic substances, public
health, disaster response and preparedness, pandemic flu, nanotechnology, water and air pollution,
children’s health, disease and injury prevention.
Assembled in this room among you are persons with these various talents, pursuits, and vision. Some of you
have other talents and interests beyond our specialty. Many of you go the extra mile in your daily lives. To
this end, I invite you to let us know better who we are, the wealth of goodness and strength we have among
us, by participating in the voluntary survey published in the most recent edition of the NECOEM Reporter.
We are not so much interested in names, but rather in the depth and breadth of the kinds of things you, our
members, do beyond seeing patients in your lives as volunteers, altruists, teachers, speakers, researchers and
visionaries. In sharing your interests and passions, we might find inspiration right here among us to carry on
and do more for our families, communities, clients, patients and the environment.
To educate means to lead out what is essentially innate within us, which is, a passion for life and it’s
preservation for our children.
Thomas H. Gassert
November 29, 2007