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  • Louisiana physicians reflect on unity, collaboration and resources shared throughout COVID-19 weekly calls +


    Orleans and Jefferson Parish Medical Societies hosted 7 weekly 'COVID-19 All-Physician UPDATE' teleconferences for more than 1,000 registrants.

    NEW ORLEANS, LA, June 7, 2020 - From March 24th to May 5th, Jefferson and Orleans Parish Medical Societies hosted weekly ‘COVID-19 All-Physician UPDATE’ teleconferences. JPMS and OPMS presidents, Tanya Busenlener, MD, and Juan J. Gershanik, MD, invited 23 experts from the Louisiana Department of Health, the New Orleans Health Department, LSU School of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Ochsner Health, and LCMC Health to provide physicians with the most updated information about COVID-19 and an opportunity to ask questions. Through member emails, social media and word-of-mouth, the organizations invited physicians from throughout the state to participate. More than 1,000 registered. Many participated in several calls, and others sat in on all seven.

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    “Thanks to the commitment of the citizens of our region and the dedication and sacrifice of front-line healthcare workers, political and healthcare leaders and the many physicians that participated on these calls, our region has become the example to the world on how to effectively ‘flatten the curve’ and reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Busenlener. “I’m happy we were able to provide this resource for our peers.”

    Dr. Busenlener and Dr. Gershanik helped to recruit 23 panelists to share their knowledge and experience with other physicians throughout this most challenging time.

    “Founded in 1878, OPMS has demonstrated a long history of serving our physician colleagues and the New Orleans community dating all the way back to the yellow fever epidemic,” said Dr. Gershanik. “Our partnership with JPMS expands our reach and allows our organizations to build collaboration with physicians and healthcare leaders to better serve the medical needs of a much broader geographic area. I am proud of the impact of our weekly calls in helping our colleagues to effectively treat patients while reducing the spread of coronavirus.”

    With help from moderator Susan D’Antoni, Dr. Busenlener and Dr. Gershanik hosted all seven of the teleconferences, which averaged anywhere from 200 to 400 participants.

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    “On March 9th a gentlemen residing in the Region One area was diagnosed with COVID-19, the first such identified case in Louisiana. Within two short weeks, epidemiological projections painted a nightmare scenario: patients requiring inpatient-level care exceeding existing hospital capacity by 2,000 beds, patients requiring mechanical ventilation exceeding existing ventilator supply by a factor of 2-3, and local physicians being asked to provide acute care well beyond their trained specialty,” said Joseph Kanter, MD, assistant state health officer, Louisiana Department of Health. “Despite experiencing the fastest start to a COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, and due largely to effective social distancing and a rapid increase in acute-care capacity, this scenario was thankfully avoided.”

    Dr. Kanter served as the featured speaker on six calls, providing physicians with weekly updates on the number of cases, anticipated diagnostic and treatment modalities and needs based on data. In addition, Dr. Kanter appeared almost daily on television and radio news segments providing COVID-19 updates and ‘Flatten-The-Curve’ tips for the community.

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    Jennifer Avegno, MD, medical director at the New Orleans Health Department, added: “I've learned that pandemics require good understanding of the underlying science and data, but the flexibility to refine or revise course when it changes. We know so little about the virus and must make life-changing decisions based on all the information we have at a particular time,” said Dr. Avegno, who served as the featured speaker on the April 14th call. “Having the humility to admit we don't know everything and the fortitude to keep studying and understanding is key to the practice of medicine during this time.”

    New Orleans' Mayor Latoya Cantrell rarely appeared on her special daily news updates without Dr. Avegno at her side, providing updates and coaching the NOLA community on how to prevent the virus from spreading.

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    March 31st speaker John S. Schieffelin, M.D., M.S.P.H., (above) said: “New information about the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming available daily and healthcare providers of all specialties need to know how to care for these patients and how to best keep themselves and their staff safe,” added Dr. Schieffelin, who serves as associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine, sections of infectious disease at Tulane University School of Medicine. “These teleconferences have proven to be a great way to share ideas and research data.”

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    According to David Janz, MD, MSc, assistant profession of medicine, pulmonary/critical care and allergy/immunology at LSU Health Sciences Center: “SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus that causes critical illness syndromes not at all novel to the intensive care community. Intensivists have many evidence-based tools at their disposal to support and treat patients with COVID-19,” added Dr. Janz, who presented and answered questions on the April 7th and April 28th calls. “Implementing these evidence-based ICU practices will improve outcomes in patients with COVID-19 and also increase our ventilator and ICU bed capacity.”

    Dahlene Fusco, MD, PhD, (below) who appeared on the April 14th and May 5th calls added: “From the COVID-19 pandemic experience, I have learned that we have a major public health need to pre-emptively explain clinical trials to the Greater NOLA community, in every major language used in this community. We are not out of the crisis yet, and cannot be assured that cases won't increase again next winter.
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    "We have post-exposure and preventive clinical trials about to start opening, and must work with our entire NOLA community to prepare to 1) understand the need for research in our community to identify best countermeasures, 2) make the most informed decisions possible regarding trial enrollment,” said Dr. Fusco, who serves as assistant professor of medicine, adjunct assistant professor of tropical medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine. “We will not find best preventives without research, so our community needs to be informed of and engaged in this research to the absolute best of our ability.”

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    Dr. Gershanik (pictured right with Dr. Avegno) added, “The leadership role of Dr. Kanter was invaluable, as was the collaboration among physicians and faculty of our major healthcare systems and teaching institutions -- like LSU, Tulane, Ochsner, LCMC and the New Orleans Health Department. In fact, the clinical trials being conducted by many of these Louisiana healthcare leaders are at the forefront of the world research of the pandemic,” said Dr. Gershanik. “Most that volunteered their precious time to provide updates, guidance and answer questions were the warriors on the front lines of this crisis.”

    “I am proud of how the physician community of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes showed leadership in the face of this unprecedented challenge. I believe the unified medical front exhibited during the early weeks of our COVID-19 outbreak provided a powerful amplification of public health messaging and promoted resilience to our patient community,” said Dr. Kanter. “In the weeks since, the New Orleans region has received accolades for ‘flattening the curve’ in a manner few other areas have been able to accomplish, and I am thankful to the medical community for the role played in this.”

    Other panelists that provided information, updates and answered questions from their peers throughout the seven weekly teleconferences included: Courtney Phillips, PhDMarcus Bachhuber, MD, Louisiana Department of Health; Lee Engel, MD, PhDJulio Figueroa, MDMeredith Clement, MD, LSU Health Sciences Center; Gregory Sossaman, MD, MSPHJon "Michael" Cuba, MD, FACEP, FAAEMKatherine L. Baumgarten, MD, Julia Garcia-Diaz, MD, of Ochsner HealthStacy Drury, MD, PhD, of Tulane University School of Medicine; Sonia Malhotra, MD, MS, FAAP, of Tulane and LSU School of Medicine; and Thomas LaVeist, PhDJohn Barry, MPH, Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, and Katherine Williams, MD, president of Louisiana State Medical Society.

    “The significant engagement of the regional medical community in the COVID-19 Physician Calls demonstrated the need for timely, comprehensive, and critical updates from public health authorities and medical specialists in the trenches who were testing and caring for patients with the virus,” said Susan D’Antoni. “The speakers are the absolute best in their fields of critical care, infectious diseases, emergency medicine, pathology and infection control. We are fortunate to have their expertise to draw on during this crisis.”

    Understandably, some physicians who had registered with every intention of participating were often called away to tend to COVID-19 patients and other related challenges. OPMS and JPMS sent links of teleconference recordings to anyone that registered throughout the seven weeks. Members of the two organizations were sent links to recordings of the calls upon request, whether they had registered or not. 

    Orleans Parish Medical Society and Jefferson Parish Medical Society work in partnership to best serve physicians and their patients. For additional information and to enroll as a member, visit and




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  • New Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana Launched to Enhance Service to Physicians and the Community +

    New Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana Launched to Enhance Service to Physicians and the Community

    Jefferson and Orleans Parish Medical Societies are excited to announce the formation of a new unified and stronger organization to represent physicians and patients in our region - the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana.

    Readers of the Healthcare Journal of New Orleans have read about the enhanced collaborative efforts of the two parish societies over the last year. This collaboration, with input from physicians via survey and several focus groups, resulted in a decision by the respective boards and membership of both organizations to form this new organization in October, 2020.

    During the focus groups, physicians indicated they wanted leaders of Jefferson & Orleans Parish Medical Societies to “build a better boat” – a new and improved organization to advocate for and serve physicians. In addition, the focus group physician participants shared the importance of needing a stronger, trusted voice in the community. They indicated the need for a unified voice on medical and public health matters, health equity, medical education and the physician workforce, health care access, financing and delivery, and physician autonomy.

    The leaders of the parish medical societies were listening intently and have created an organizational structure which ensures an effective governance structure, and which encourages collaboration, leadership development and physician member engagement.

    That new boat has been launched as the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana (MASELA). Jefferson & Orleans Parish Medical Societies will continue to be the voice of physicians to the Louisiana State Medical Society. Most other responsibilities and operations are being transferred to the new organization to guarantee a more responsive approach to serving physicians and their medical practices. Membership is open to all physicians in the Southeast Louisiana region, and if a physician resides and/or practices in Jefferson or Orleans Parish, they may join both MASELA and the parish medical society.

    MASELA has a board of ten physicians – five from each founding society. Initially, MASELA is being led by co-presidents – representing the two founding parish societies elected by the new board. Tanya Busenlener, MD, President of Jefferson Parish Medical Society, and Juan Gershanik, MD, President of Orleans Parish Medical Society, are serving as co-presidents. Other local or regional physician organizations in this region are invited to affiliate with the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana as well.

    According to Dr. Busenlener, “the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana is in direct response to what physicians in our area told us they need to enhance their ability to practice medicine effectively.”

    The bylaws of the Medical Association note “This Association shall bring together physicians to serve and advocate for the common needs of physician members, their patients, and the community.”

    Juan Gershanik, MD, stresses the important role the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana will play in the community noting, “Our new organization has a tremendous opportunity to work with other community organizations to improve the health of all people in Southeast Louisiana through education and innovation.”

    Physicians can become engaged in the new organization through individual membership, and may join ad hoc committees to address the common challenges of certain physician segments and improve collegiality of women, early career, academic and private practice physicians. In addition, ad hoc committees will address legislative and regulatory matters, public health and health equity concerns, and improve stakeholder relations and physician well-being.

    The board and ad hoc committees of the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana will develop services, programs and initiatives for physicians, medical practice staff, patients and the community.  Initiatives which are already being evaluated are a collaboration with a national medical staffing organization, development of a physician-wellbeing program, and a Physician Connect partnership program which will link physicians with corporate resources in the community to provide value-added resources to physicians and their practices. Also, the leadership will consider offering educational programs regarding the business of medicine and continue their regular COVID-19 updates for physicians in the region which have kept physicians informed about the pandemic.

    Dr. Busenlener shared her thoughts recently about physician involvement. “Physicians in our region have an excellent opportunity to get involved in this new organization to address our professional challenges together and enhance patient care in our communities.”

    Forming the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana during the pandemic could be considered daunting; however, according to Dr. Gershanik, “COVID demonstrates the importance of physicians coming together to address a public health crisis, speaking with one unified, strong voice to our patients and the media, and working with our hospitals, medical training institutions and community organizations to provide quality care and improve the health of all people in our region.”

    More information about the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana will be sent to physicians soon. For more information or to join, call 504.455.8282.

  • A Plea to Our Patients and the Community At Large: +

    AN OPEN LETTER from Tanya Busenlener, MD, president, Jefferson Parish Medical Society, and Juan J. Gershanik, MD, president, Orleans Parish Medical Society

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2020 - This is the time for the people of our region to stand together by staying apart. South Louisiana, through its rich history, has survived many disasters including of course most recently the devastation and destruction of Hurricane Katrina. We can do it again now, but we need the help of EVERYONE.

  • Jefferson and Orleans Parish Medical Societies welcome new 2020 Presidents +

    jpms opms 2020 presidents

    Doctors Tanya Busenlener and Juan Gershanik have hit the ground running in their new roles.

    NEW ORLEANS, 2/4/20 -- Jefferson Parish Medical Society (JPMS) and Orleans Parish Medical Society (OPMS) are proud to welcome new leadership in 2020. Tanya S. Busenlener, MD, is now president of JPMS and Juan J. Gershanik, MD, takes the helm at OPMS. The two leaders vow to work closely together to continue to build collaboration and synergy between the two associations to best meet the needs of physicians and those in training throughout the Greater New Orleans Area. Their official joint installation will take place on Saturday, March 28, 2020.

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  • Orleans and Jefferson Parish Medical Societies build collegiality with physician events +

    opms jmps watch party

    New Orleans Area physicians and guests gathered at Oak Wine for a special tasting with winemaker Dr. James Moises.
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