Week 3 as ORA President already, and I can say there is never a dull moment. We are 3 months+ into the pandemic in Ontario, with all the challenges that has entailed. ORA members pivoted immediately to virtual care in mid-March. Now working from home seems normal, and if you have made even a rare foray into the office for in-person care, it is the venue that feels strange. Not to mention uncomfortable with all the PPE required, if you can even source what you need.
As you know, we ran 5 ORA Town Halls through April and May to update members on the evolving situation. All of these are archived on the ORA website (Members-only portion), where we also house links to multiple COVID-19 resources, including financial and infection control information. Special thanks to Mark Atkinson of Ardeane for managing the platform, together with Sandy Kennedy, our hard-working ORA Project Manager, and Dr. Felix Leung, our Communications chair and now VP-Adult. Over 100 members attended on each occasion.
Unfortunately, our ORA Annual Scientific meeting (ASM) fell victim to the pandemic. Both EULAR and ACR 2020 have gone virtual, as have all ORA Board and committee meetings, and our mid-June retreat. We will continue to review plans for a 2021 ASM depending on the course of the pandemic.
In the background, all ORA committees continue to function and deal with their mandates. Drug shortages, informatic advances, biosimilars, and transitions in and out of practice are key areas we are focused on. A new Northern Ontario committee has been created from the RheumOpps group, chaired by Sahil Koppikar.
I know you are frustrated by the issues around virtual care, particularly the limitations of OTN, and the ongoing battle to ensure E078 can be billed with K083. ORA leaders have been lobbying furiously with both the OMA and government. Special thanks to Jane Purvis, now our Past-President, who led this effort through the spring. At this time, the issue is still at the negotiations table, with arbitration a possibility if agreement cannot be reached.
Our new ORA Board and Executive were approved at one of the Town Halls and took over their roles as of May 25, 2020. I want to extend special thanks to our 3 departing board members for their hard work on your behalf: Drs Vandana Ahluwalia, Rick Adachi and Vinod Chandran. We welcome to the ORA Board Drs. Shelly Dunne, Raman Rai and Faiza Khokhar. All of us will be working hard on behalf of the ORA membership and their patients during these challenging times.