Despite a tumultuous start to 2021, I am optimistic that this year will bring opportunities for continued growth. While we still face many challenges related to COVID-19, the first waves of vaccination are inspiring the hope that better days are coming.
Thank you for all the support and well wishes throughout the past year. Together we accomplished a lot! A new COVID-19 Task Force and a Telemedicine Presidential Committee offered significant COVID 19-related guidance, updates, and telemedicine resources for our members. A health policy and legislation webinar along with podcasts, telemedicine videos, and a free telemedicine lecture series were introduced for you. To lessen financial constraints and hardships for our members, the AASM waived the facility membership dues in 2021 and offered a free AASM SleepTM subscription and discounted minutes for individual and facility members. The AASM also recognized the importance of state and regional sleep societies to our members, and we stepped up to offer support with COVID-19 relief funds. The AASM Accreditation Department offered more flexibility, extended deadlines, and implemented virtual site visits to help our accredited facilities and members.
There is more to come for 2021. The COVID 19 Task Force, under the leadership of Dr. Indira Gurubhagavatula, has posted updated guidance on the AASM website to address vaccination questions, patient communication, scheduling care of COVID-positive patients, and health care worker safety. The Telemedicine Presidential Committee, under the leadership of AASM Past President Dr. Doug Kirsch, has posted new webcasts in the AASM telemedicine video library and is coming out with new templates for adult and pediatric comprehensive sleep evaluation including obstructive sleep apnea follow-up. Also, the AASM will devote a lot of resources this year to new public awareness campaigns, health policy, and advocacy, including advocacy for permanent telemedicine reimbursement, relaxation of prior authorization policies, and recruiting members of Congress to join the new Congressional Sleep Health Caucus.
The past year has been challenging, and despite these difficulties, you dug deep to bring out the inner strength, resilience, and hope to overcome these challenges. Let these character traits continue to grow stronger within you throughout this New Year. Let us remind ourselves of the dynamic will power and free choice we all have as we continue to take time periodically to quietly reflect. This will help to remind ourselves of the good actions we did for others, lessons learned, victories won, and inner strength gained from challenges faced with courage. This will also be a time to clear out negative, self-limiting thoughts about ourselves and others, and focus on the new and endless possibilities to create positive changes. Let the hope of 2021 sweep away all worry and self-doubt, infusing us with a strong will to reach our goals this year.
Kannan Ramar, MD