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Society Welcomes New Leader

Dr. Robert Panton outlines ambitious but achievable goals

The Chicago Medical Society’s 165th President assumed office confronting a challenge that greets each new president: bringing more members into the ranks of organized medicine. During annual dinner ceremonies on June 11, which marked the changing of the CMS guard, Robert W. Panton, MD, an Elmwood Park ophthalmologist, said that engaging physicians is key to building a more inclusive Society. He also believes an across-the-board dues reduction is a recruitment tool whose time has come.

“One would like to believe the fine work of the Society would automatically translate into membership. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple,” Dr. Panton continued. To break through the many competing interests and demands on physicians, CMS must demonstrate value—consistently and relentlessly, he said. “In everything we provide—our communications, education, legislative advocacy, and public health leadership, physicians must recognize value,” Dr. Panton stated.

This year’s doubled attendance at the Physician Legal Issues Conference is a sign that interest in CMS is on the rise. “Through our relationship with the American Bar Association’s Health Law Section, CMS is able to guide physicians through the administrative black holes known as ACOs and health insurance exchanges,” Dr. Panton noted.

The annual conference, which CMS jointly sponsors with the ABA, along with smaller scale educational programs, including articles in Chicago Medicine magazine, will become even more critical in helping members navigate the evolving health care system,” Dr. Panton continued. CMS initiated the partnership with the ABA to keep members abreast of developments in the legal, regulatory, and practice climate.

The incoming president also said that CMS’ historic missions of education and public health are another compelling reason for doctors to join.  “This past year, CMS testified at City Hall about the dangers of super-caffeinated energy drinks that are marketed to children and youth,” Dr. Panton said. “We came out in support of Alderman Burke’s proposed ban. And  in a meeting with Senator Richard Durbin in Washington, DC, we called for an FDA investigation and strict limits on the sale and distribution of these products,” he added.

CMS also serves on a nominating committee that screens candidates for the Cook County Health and Hospitals System board. “In that capacity, we recommended several physician-members of our organization to serve on the board,” Dr. Panton noted. In still more activity, “CMS joined Chicago’s Clean Power Coalition, which pushed for a City Council ordinance that would have forced several power plants to reduce their particulate matter and CO2,” Dr. Panton elaborated. “And we strongly support member Vemuri Murthy, MD, as he actively promotes CPR awareness among physicians and patients through training workshops and publicity campaigns,” Dr. Panton said.

CMS serves on the executive leadership team of the Building a Healthier Chicago (BHC) coalition, organized by former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General James M. Galloway, MD, Dr. Panton continued. BHC works with local and national stakeholders, uniting and supporting organizations, businesses, and non-profits around the goals of prevention and healthy living.

“On the individual level, CMS’ work with member Neelum Aggarwal, MD, is a benefit for patients and physicians,” Dr. Panton said. Along with Dr. Aggarwal, CMS is publicizing the capabilities of Cook County’s regional Primary Stroke Centers. “This educational initiative engages local legislators and community stakeholders as we and Dr. Aggarwal host programs through our Mini-internship Program,” he explained.

“Clearly,” Dr. Panton, emphasized, “CMS has much to offer. We don’t need more membership studies this year,” he concluded. “Simply put, it’s time for action.”

Among  the members and guests enjoying the festivities were the incoming president’s father, John H. Panton, MD, founder of Panton Eye Center; Dr. Panton’s older brother Peter J. Panton, MD, also an ophthalmologist, and member of the Panton eye care team. Dr. Panton’s wife Marika, a piano teacher, and two of his three children beamed as Dr. Axe passed the baton of leadership to his colleague. Many CMS past presidents were present to welcome the new leadership slate for 2013-2014.

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