Triage follows deep cuts
More than half of state and territorial health agencies in the U.S. have laid off workers since summer 2008.
About 90 percent have cut services such as clinics and immunization programs.
Paul E. Jarris, MD, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, warned fellow public health experts that federal budget sequestration, a provision of the Budget Control Act of 2011, could further reduce the nation's public health funding by $2.4 billion in fiscal year 2013 if collective federal spending exceeds limits set by Congress. Dr. Jarris delivered the messages during the meeting “Sustaining Public Health Capacity in an Age of Austerity,” hosted in September by the Forum on Microbial Threats of the Institute of Medicine.
In 2009, the Government Accountability Office published a report that described chronic shortages of veterinarians at federal agencies and possible additional shortages in the future. Dr. Michael Gilsdorf, president of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians, said in a recent interview that some agencies in the Department of Agriculture, for example, have since offered bonuses to fill vacant positions, shifted some duties to nonveterinarians with veterinarian oversight, and eliminated positions that budget shortfalls would not let them fill. Dr. Gilsdorf said that remaining shortages have left the nation with insufficient numbers of veterinarians for research and disease response.
Among more than 1,300 graduating veterinarians who accepted job offers in 2012, one accepted a state government job and eight accepted federal government jobs, according to survey results published in October (see JAVMA, Oct. 15, 2012, page 1041).
Arizona, Hawaii, and Nebraska are among the states that have eliminated their state public health veterinarian positions, and some states have lost federal grant money that would have helped them hire additional public health veterinarians, according to officials with the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians.
Dr. Cathleen Hanlon, director of the Rabies Laboratory at Kansas State University, said in an interview that public health authorities from other states increasingly are asking for her laboratory's help with rabies diagnostic tests because of budget cuts in their states.
In April, a separate IOM Committee on Public Health Strategies recommended in part that public health agencies become able to deliver a standardized service package that promotes and protects health and, as the Affordable Care Act increases access to private clinical services, that public health agencies focus more on population health services.
The IOM report, “For the Public's Health: Investing in a Healthier Future,” found in part that the United States has poor performance in health outcomes such as life expectancy in comparison with other developed nations. It states that the nation's public health agencies need better alignment with population health needs and better funding.
Steven M. Teutsch, MD, chief science officer for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and vice chair of the committee, said during the September meeting that state governments should routinely assess the public health effects of legislation and policies before and after implementation. The nation should have fewer but larger local health departments supported by flexible, evidence-based budgets.
Other recommendations given during the IOM conference included measuring the effects of public health programs, reducing the scope of services, pushing for reimbursement by insurance companies, and encouraging state and federal agencies to share data, such as air quality data collected by environmental regulators. Murray Trostle, PhD, deputy director of the U.S. Agency for International Development's Avian Influenza Preparedness and Response Unit, encouraged the meeting attendees to quantify the health effects of reduced budgets on, for example, immunization programs and prenatal services.
Public health's funding woes are a symptom of a current debate over how we care for our society, said Jesse L. Goodman, MD, chief scientist and deputy commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration. He said it is important to study the effects of eroding public health funding.
Training a new generation of detection dogs
The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine officially opened its detection dog training center on the 2012 anniversary of Sept. 11. The Penn Vet Working Dog Center will breed and train search-and-rescue and other types of detection dogs while researching the components necessary for these canines to succeed.
“The center will develop the research so that we can improve the quality, performance, and health of detection dogs, particularly those that originate in this country, since so many detection dogs are imported from Eastern Europe and those sources are being tapped out. It will also be a resource for educating handlers, scientists, and veterinarians on the special needs of these dogs,” said Dr. Cindy Otto, the nonprofit center's creator and director.
Even before the Penn Vet center officially opened, Dr. Otto was holding conferences and seminars, studying the health of the SAR dogs deployed during 9/11, and collecting detection dog DNA. One of her goals is for the center to serve as a national consortium for detection dog programs worldwide, providing them with the latest findings to optimize the success and well-being of the dogs.
“Now we are preparing to meet future demands and facilitating additional research by opening our detection dog breeding and training program that will implement, test, and disseminate the knowledge gained,” she said.
In addition to the ongoing 9/11 dog study, Dr. Otto said the center is researching hydration in detection dogs and investigating the health, behavior, and fitness of the puppies being trained for detection work. Annemarie DeAngelo is the center's training director. DeAngelo developed and implemented the canine program for the New Jersey State Police Department, where she worked for 31 years until her recent retirement.
Another area ripe for investigation, according to Dr. Otto, is the role of the human-animal bond and the impact the dogs have on volunteers at the center, particularly veterans, parolees from puppy prison programs, and homeless youth. “We are excited to be responsive to the needs of the community and try to design studies that have impact in both the short and long term for the dogs and handlers,” she explained.
Dr. Otto says the Penn Vet Working Dog Center will complement much of the work at the Canine Detection Research Institute at Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine, the nation's largest dedicated academic research program for canine detection. “Our program really focuses on the puppies and how early influences impact future success,” she said. “And because we are completely funded by private donations, we have the obligation and the opportunity to be an open resource, something that is not always possible with military-funded projects.”
Veterinary education continues expanding
Increasing student enrollment at veterinary colleges looks to continue in the near future. Some existing programs, such as Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, have plans to bump up their class size. Meanwhile, a nonprofit announced plans in August to create a new veterinary college in New York, and a new joint program is in the works out West.
Specifically, Cornell has launched an estimated $58 million renovation project, which will upgrade existing facilities and replace the former diagnostic laboratory building that is currently unoccupied. The project will also allow the veterinary college to sustain its class size at 102 (up from 90 a few years ago). Construction on phase one is expected to begin in 2014 and phase two will follow soon after. At its completion, the initiative would enable Cornell to accept a class of approximately 120 students in the fall of 2017.
But Cornell may soon have some competition for in-state students if plans for a new veterinary school in Buffalo, N.Y., come to fruition.
Nonprofit health care provider Kaleida Health announced Aug. 28 it had selected local real estate developer Chason Affinity's $65 million proposal to create a school of veterinary medicine at the site of one of the provider's hospitals that closed in March. Plans entail using the main hospital building as a veterinary medical teaching hospital with classrooms and support services, and renovating another building to serve as an on-campus residence.
Possible tenants include an existing U.S. or international school—European or otherwise—that may want to add a program or facility in an industrial Northeastern city, said project consultant Mark Cushing.
He mentioned there is also the potential for collaboration with Buffalo colleges, which offer undergraduate programs related to animal health, animal behavior, and preveterinary medicine, suggesting a possible fast-track program for admittance to the veterinary school.
On the other side of the country, Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine is working with Montana State University to create a new joint program. Plans call for Montana State to accept up to 10 students annually. They would be trained at the Bozeman, Mont., campus for one year before being sent to WSU to complete the final three years.
The Montana State Board of Regents Sept. 19 unanimously endorsed funding the proposal. It now goes to the 2013 state legislature for the $2 million needed in the next two years to get it started. If all goes smoothly, the program could begin as soon as fall 2014. The universities estimate it would cost around $500,000 a year to operate and require between $250,000 and $500,000 in start-up costs.
And finally, another Arizona institution is considering creating a veterinary school just as Midwestern University in Glendale is about two years away from opening its veterinary program's doors.
The Arizona Board of Regents voted Sept. 27 to spend $3 million for the University of Arizona to study the possibility of starting a veterinary program in Tucson. The proposal now goes to Gov. Janice K. Brewer for her signature.
If approved, the veterinary college would eventually serve 100 students per class. Currently, UA's Department of Veterinary Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has about 350 preveterinary students.
Foreign veterinary programs share 150th anniversaries
The year 2012 has marked the 150th anniversary of the University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College and the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine in Scotland.
The latter was founded in 1862 by Dr. James McCall, who was a graduate of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh. He traveled to Glasgow in 1859 to set up in practice. Instead, he spent more time providing classes for budding veterinarians. In 1862, formal classes were instituted.
Glasgow marked its anniversary with a yearlong campaign that honored the past and looked forward to ongoing success in the future.
The focal point of the celebrations was the “Vet150 Congress” from Oct. 5–7 at Glasgow. The event began with a lecture series on the veterinary college's history, and the McCall Memorial Lecture and was followed by a continuing education program, a commercial exhibition, and a gala banquet. There also was a “ceilidh,” a traditional Scottish social gathering with Gaelic folk music and dancing.
The Ontario Veterinary College celebrated its 150th anniversary with a similar fěte that paid tribute to its own Scottish roots. On Sept. 17, the OVC hosted its Fall Faire, which featured Gaelic music, food, and dancing as well as an exhibition featuring life at the veterinary college over the past 150 years.
The college traces back to Dr. Andrew Smith, an 1861 Edinburgh graduate, who was appointed as veterinary surgeon to the Upper Canada Board of Agriculture.
He began practicing veterinary science and giving public lectures in Toronto in 1862. In 1864, he was granted a charter by the agriculture board for the founding of the Upper Canada Veterinary College, later named the Ontario Veterinary College.
Tennessee's new facilities better accommodate large animals
A long-awaited renovation and expansion of the Equine and Farm Animal hospitals at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center is under way. The $20.9 million project encompasses almost 85,000 square feet.
The Equine Hospital will feature intensive care and isolation units as well as orthopedic, soft tissue, and colic surgery suites. The Farm Animal Hospital will include standing and recumbent surgery suites. And the Imaging Center, which will provide services for both large and small animals, will have spiral CT and MRI units. The center's Ambulatory and Field Services Unit will also get a new space. Plus, the Orthopedic Diagnostic Center will include a lameness diagnostic center, event-sized arena, imaging unit, farrier shop, and equine rehabilitation center with an underwater treadmill and free walker.
The Equine Hospital and Rehabilitation Center are expected to open by the end of 2012. The Farm Animal Hospital is scheduled to open in February 2013.
The expansion will help the College of Veterinary Medicine protect the food supply from farm to fork, provide the most advanced technologies and medical therapies available, meet all the medical needs of its equine owners and industries in one location, and ensure its ability to maintain a strong teaching program for its veterinary students, according to the veterinary college's website.
Appointments made to new committees
The AVMA made appointments in September to the new Early Career Development Committee and the new Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions.
The chair of the Executive Board appointed the members of the Early Career Development Committee. The members representing veterinarians who have graduated in the past five years are Drs. Kirk Breuninger of Holland, Pa.; James Finlay of Azusa, Calif.; Robin Hansen of Pleasanton, Calif.; Will McCauley of Charlotte, N.C.; and Doreen Turner of Bourbonnais, Ill. Representing veterinarians who have graduated in the past 15 years are Drs. Karen Shenoy of Maple Grove, Minn., and Mary “Libby” Coleman Todd of Birmingham, Ala. Dr. Jim Weisman of West Lafayette, Ind., represents faculty advisers. Charlene Wandzilak of Hummelstown, Pa., represents the American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives.
The Executive Board appointed the members of the Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions, which is the successor to the Committee on the Human-Animal Bond. The appointees are as follows: Dr. Leslie Cooper of Davis, Calif., as an expert on relationships between humans and domestic animals; Dr. Oliver Knesl of Randolph, N.J., as an expert on relationships between humans and nondomestic animals; Aubrey Fine, EdD, of Pomona, Calif., as an expert on the impact of the human-animal bond on the human; and Mary Lou Randour, PhD, of Washington, D.C., as an expert on human-animal attachment.
The Executive Board also appointed David Chico of Albany, N.Y., as AVMA liaison to the National Poultry Improvement Plan.
AVMA seeks members for councils, committees
Members of the AVMA can volunteer for one of the Association's councils, committees, or other entities to collaborate on efforts to advance veterinary medicine.
These entities help develop AVMA policy and engage in a variety of other Association activities influencing areas such as animal welfare, clinical practice, and legislative affairs.
Nominations are being sought for nearly 100 positions that will become available in July 2013. Nomination materials, including descriptions of the entities and vacancies, are available at www.avma.org/Members/Volunteer/BecomeAVolunteer under “Vacancies”, or by calling AVMA headquarters at (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6605, or emailing OfficeEVP@avma.org.
The Executive Board will fill committee and trust positions and appoint a new volunteer director of international affairs at its April 2013 meeting. Also in spring 2013, the House Advisory Committee will appoint three members to the Political Action Committee Policy Board.
Nominations for committees, trusts, the director of international affairs, and the PAC Policy Board must be submitted to the AVMA Office of the Executive Vice President by March 4, 2013. These nominations may be made by AVMA members on their own or another's behalf, by local or state veterinary associations, by allied groups represented in the House of Delegates, by a specific organization to be represented by the nominee, or as otherwise stated in the entity description.
The HOD will elect council members when it convenes in July 2013 in Chicago. Council nominations may be made by organizations represented in the HOD or by petition of 10 voting members.
Nominations for councils must be submitted by April 1, 2013, to the AVMA Office of the Executive Vice President. Nominations for the Council on Education must be submitted by Feb. 1, 2013, so that the Council on Education Candidate Qualification Review Committee may review the nomination materials prior to the HOD election.
AVMA provides background on policies
The AVMA has developed a backgrounder that clarifies the purpose of the Association's policies and summarizes the process of policy development.
The backgrounder, “AVMA Policy from Start to Finish,” explains that policies are the guiding principles of the Association.
“Not only do policies provide guidance to the veterinary profession, they also provide a message platform from which the Association can advocate for the profession on legislation, regulation, public outreach, and more,” according to the backgrounder.
The Executive Board and House of Delegates have the power to make AVMA policy. The board generally acts on recommendations from the Association's councils, committees, and other entities. The HOD generally acts on resolutions from the board, House Advisory Committee, organizations in the HOD, and HOD reference committees. The HOD also may act on resolutions submitted by petition by AVMA members.
Many of the Association's policies as well as the backgrounder on how AVMA policy is made are available at www.avma.org/KB/Policies.
Nominees invited for 2013 excellence awards
The AVMA and American Veterinary Medical Foundation are accepting nominations for the 2013 Excellence in Veterinary Medicine Awards, which recognize contributions to the profession and to animal welfare. The awards will be presented at the 150th AVMA Annual Convention, July 19–23, 2013, in Chicago.
The AVMA and AVMF are accepting nominations for the following: The AVMA Award, Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award, AVMA Meritorious Service Award, AVMF/AKC Career Achievement Award in Canine Research, AVMF/Winn Excellence in Feline Research Award, AVMA Advocacy Award, AVMA Animal Welfare Award, AVMA Humane Award, AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award, AVMA Practitioner Research Award, AVMA Public Service Award, and AVMA XIIth International Veterinary Congress Prize.
The deadline is Feb. 1, 2013, for award nominations, except the nomination deadline is March 1, 2013, for the Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award.
Award information and nomination forms are available by visiting www.avma.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/Awards. The contact for the Bustad award is Kathy Sikora, (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6635, or firstname.lastname@example.org. The contact for other awards is Cheri Kowal, (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6691, or email@example.com.
House of Delegates to consider resolution against homeopathy
A resolution discouraging homeopathy is among several proposals that the AVMA House of Delegates will consider at its regular winter session in early January.
The Connecticut VMA submitted the resolution that would discourage homeopathy as ineffective. The resolution states that the safety and efficacy of veterinary therapies should be determined by scientific investigation, ineffective or unsafe therapies should be discarded, and homeopathy has been demonstrated to be ineffective.
As of press time, two other resolutions and a proposed bylaws amendment were on the HOD agenda.
The Wisconsin VMA submitted a resolution that would add the following line to the AVMA definition of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship: “The veterinarian provides oversight of treatment, compliance and outcome.”
The Maine, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and Vermont VMAs submitted a resolution that would make all the members of the House Advisory Committee at-large representatives, not representing professional categories.
The HAC proposed an AVMA Bylaws amendment that would require the AVMA website to carry a notice of intent to amend the bylaws at least 30 days before the pertinent HOD session. The current requirement is for the JAVMA to publish the notice 30 days beforehand, online or in print, requiring even more lead time because of the publication cycle.
The AVMA is posting the full text of the resolutions and proposed bylaws amendment at www.avma.org/about/governance in the “House of Delegates” section. AVMA members who want to weigh in with their delegates may find contact information by visiting www.avma.org/members and clicking on “My AVMA Leaders.”