Editor’s note: The following content was published in the AAOS Now Special Edition and distributed in June 2020. The content was originally scheduled for the AAOS Now Daily Edition, which publishes each year onsite at the AAOS Annual Meeting but this year’s meeting in March was canceled due to COVID-19. Despite the cancellation, members can access virtual content from the Annual Meeting by visiting the Academy’s Annual Meeting Virtual Experience webpage.
When Joseph A. Bosco III, MD, FAAOS, became the AAOS 2020–2021 president on March 30, he was stepping into the top Academy leadership role in a healthcare environment—indeed, a world—few could have envisioned just a couple of months ago. Rather than presenting his inaugural speech to a large audience at the Annual Meeting, scheduled to occur in Orlando, Fla., March 24–28 but canceled March 10, he spoke to the membership in a video recorded at his home.
In a matter of weeks, the entire healthcare system—and the role of the orthopaedic surgeon—had completely transformed and was focused almost singularly on the COVID-19 pandemic that was erupting in hotspots around the world, including cities and regions in the United States such as New York, where Dr. Bosco lives and practices, and New Orleans.
In that inaugural speech, Dr. Bosco outlined a number of policy plans, programs, and advocacy activities the Academy would be pursuing in “normal times.” Although he signaled that those efforts would not be permanently subsumed by the pandemic, he has during his brief time in office devoted most of his efforts to addressing the COVID-19 issue, in concert with his successors on the Presidential Line—First Vice President Daniel K. Guy, MD, FAAOS, and Second Vice President Felix H. Savoie III, MD, FAAOS—along with other Academy leaders; Chief Executive Thomas E. Arend Jr, Esq., CAE; and staff.
Dr. Bosco and his team have provided Academy members with a constant stream of information by way of the Academy website, email, social media postings, and periodic webinars featuring remarks by the Presidential Line accompanied by information-packed slides available for download.
He has consistently noted that although Academy members are physicians who specialize in managing musculoskeletal health, in the unprecedented environment of a viral pandemic, “We volunteered before being called upon, in a manner befitting our proud heritage of service. As our predecessors did, we ran to the sound of fire.”
All the while, he has stated that Academy leaders and the AAOS staff in Washington, D.C., are working around the clock to ensure that the role of orthopaedic surgeons in COVID-19 is given due acknowledgment and fair consideration in legislation and other government actions to ensure that Academy physicians and their practices and institutions receive appropriate shares of financial allocations and equitable regulatory relief to allow them to pay their staffs and meet expenses so they may continue to provide care to patients.
Dr. Bosco also spoke at length about the priorities and initiatives he had envisioned before the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed the national healthcare apparatus and shifted the focus of the Academy from its regular pursuits in advocacy, education, research, and other initiatives to addressing the coronavirus crisis.
Leading in a crisis
A few weeks into his term as president, Dr. Bosco spoke in an interview with AAOS Now about the unprecedented challenges he and the Academy were confronting, his personal style of responding to it, and how he and the Presidential Line and Board of Directors would balance the immediate focus on the pandemic with the Academy’s commitment to stay the course mapped by the Strategic Plan.
Of the disappointing cancellation of the Annual Meeting, Dr. Bosco said, “Although it was a difficult decision at the time, it was absolutely the right thing to do. Our one and only concern throughout the process was the health of our attendees and staff. However, canceling the in-person meeting did not equate to ceasing much of the good work that traditionally gets done there. For example, we leveraged our teleconference ability to hold Academy Business Meetings, record and present speeches, and recognize award winners. Much of the educational content—especially ePapers and ePosters and the Orthopaedic Video Theater—will be presented during the coming months. And this AAOS Now Special Edition, which would have been published onsite as the AAOS Now Daily Edition, captures and presents much of what would have occurred in Orlando.”
On how the organization is dealing with both the urgency of the pandemic and the enduring mission of the Academy, Dr. Bosco addressed the membership directly: “Your Academy spent years developing a Strategic Plan. This plan acted as a roadmap to focus our efforts on creating member value. Last year, we began to execute on this plan. This included such projects as developing a comprehensive online resident curriculum, enhancing and expanding our registry program, developing an onboarding and leadership development program, and doubling down on our advocacy efforts.”
The pandemic, he said, “provided us an opportunity to advocate on behalf of our members for federal and state financial assistance. We also seized the opportunity to ease regulatory restrictions on telehealth and physician-owned hospitals and postpone burdensome quality reporting requirements. To date, we have been successful in our efforts—and you, our members; your employees; and, most importantly, your patients will benefit.”
In the midst of these activities, Dr. Bosco emphasized, “We continue to execute the Strategic Plan, and when the pandemic deescalates, we will be poised to return our full attention to fulfilling our mission and executing on the Strategic Plan. When things quiet down, I, along with the volunteers and staff, will resume evolving the organization so that it may respond to the changing healthcare ecosystem and remain an asset to all members and patients.”
While deflecting the conversation from how the pandemic has intruded on his own comfort zone and original vision of his presidential term, Dr. Bosco described how he has responded on a personal level and as a leader. “Stepping into unsettled and chaotic situations suits my personality, including its strengths and its weaknesses, quite well,” he said. “Like many of my colleagues, my clinical activity has been diminished. However, I am energized by the potential for service both locally and nationally that the pandemic presents. The Academy, through its education and advocacy efforts, has risen to meet the challenge and is providing immense value to our members. It is truly a humbling experience to lead such a group of dedicated and selfless volunteers and staff. The pandemic has provided us a meaningful purpose, and we have responded. Who can feel bad about that?”
In more general terms, Dr. Bosco offered this perspective: “I realize these are difficult times. Social distancing is not fun and can lead to isolation (although my teenage sons have been social distancing from me for years!). We all want to get back to our meaningful work and our social networks. Many things will probably not return to normal after the pandemic recedes. However, the service and good we provide to our patients and communities will return and help us weather the storm. To everybody: Stay safe.”
Terry Stanton is the senior medical writer for AAOS Now. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Introducing your new AAOS Presidential Line
When Joseph A. Bosco III, MD, FAAOS, assumed the Academy presidency on March 30, succeeding Kristy L. Weber, MD, FAAOS, the first woman to serve in that role, two other member leaders stepped into the successor positions in the Presidential Line.
Daniel K. Guy, MD, FAAOS, is the 2020–2021 first vice president and will succeed Dr. Bosco in 2021. Dr. Guy is in private practice at Emory Southern Orthopaedics in LaGrange, Ga., and is on staff at WellStar/West Georgia Health System; he specializes in hip and shoulder surgery and sports medicine. He earned both a master of science degree and a medical degree from the University of Louisville and completed his orthopaedic residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. After residency, he completed an A-O Fellowship in adult reconstruction at the Inselspital in Bern, Switzerland.
Dr. Guy, a man of the South who is one to favor the familiar “Danny” over his formal given name, enjoys traveling, sports, reading, and outdoor activities. He actively participates in his community as team physician to three local high schools and two colleges and as an elder at First Presbyterian Church in LaGrange. Dr. Guy and his wife, Jill, have two children and three grandchildren.
Stepping into the role of second vice president is Felix H. “Buddy” Savoie III, MD, FAAOS, a professor of clinical orthopaedics at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, where he is chief of the Division of Sports Medicine and director of the Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine. In 2015, he was named chair of orthopaedics at Tulane and now holds the Ray J. Haddad Professorship of Orthopaedics. Dr. Savoie completed his medical internship and orthopaedic residency at University of Mississippi. He completed fellowships in upper extremity surgery and arthroscopy at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Mayo Clinic; an A-O International Fellowship in Basel, Switzerland; and training at Orthopaedic Research of Richmond, Va., and at Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine in London, Ontario, Canada. A father of five and grandfather of 10, Dr. Savoie lives with his wife, Amy, in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans. Away from his medical practice, Dr. Savoie enjoys reading about history and walking, jogging, and cycling in Audubon Park and along the Mississippi River with Amy and their pet shorthaired pointer, Maggie.