CVA Holds Cardiovascular Update Conference

Bill Peinhardt, MD, Donna Burns (PRN), Susan Summers (Labcorp), Julie Mobley (PRN), and Mark Lewis (Medisys) visit in exhibit area.
In mid-November, Cardiovascular Associates (CVA) held their second annual Cardiovascular Update at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center, with over 150 attendees, about half of whom were physicians, with the other half nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and RNs. "Most of the physicians were primary care physicians, as was our intention," said Jerry Chandler, MD, FACC, President of CVA.

The idea to hold an accredited conference developed within the CVA culture. "At our practice, we often discuss clinical questions, learn from each other's experiences, and share what we learned at conferences," said Brad Cavender, MD, FACC, who was involved in organizing the conference.

"For several years," Chandler said, "many of us at CVA have wanted to place greater emphasis on medical education, both for physicians and for mid-level providers. In the past, we have published newsletters and many of us present lectures on various topics of interest. Last year, at the urging of several interested physicians, we decided to have a formal CME presentation that would be focused toward helping the primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and RNs in the delivery of cardiac care."

To organize that initial conference, the practice delegated responsibilities, with Practice Administrator Bill Cockrell drumming up support within the health care industry, while a committee, headed by Cavender, worked on the educational agenda.

"We chose to have our meeting a few days after the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions," Cavender said. "This is the last major cardiology meeting of the year and is a convenient time for us to look back over all the major meetings and pick out the important changes that have occurred. We can then make recommendations to the primary care physicians on how they might implement these changes during the upcoming year. We also invite one or two speakers from outside of CVA who are widely known for their expertise. It's been useful for us to compare our own processes of care to those at the outside institutions represented by our speakers."

While last year's inaugural conference was a success, the CVA physicians learned a few things that helped in planning this year's event. "Last year, the conference was at Ross Bridge," Chandler said. "The facility was very nice, and the conference was well attended and supported by vendors. However, we actually had to turn down some applicants due to lack of space. That led us to change the venue to the Cahaba Grand Center this year.

"Also, the first year, I think our speakers were a bit rushed, and didn't have ample time to present their topics, and then field appropriate questions, so we ended up running over a bit. This year, the scheduling was more generous and we stayed right on time. The audience was excellent in their participation."

Friday night's meeting, which was moderated by Cavender, included a presentation by Chandler on where health care providers could most effectively direct their efforts with cardiovascular disease. Percy Colon III, MD, FACC presented a clinician's view of cardiovascular imaging, while Dick Briggs III, MD and Jeff Ingrum of Blue Cross Blue Shield addressed the cost of imaging in a primary care setting.

The Saturday meeting, moderated by Russell Reeves, MD, FACC, began with a talk by Andrew Miller, MD, FACC on new insights in the diagnosis and treatment of diastolic dysfunction. Next were presentations by Louis Dell'Italia, MD, FACC on mitral regurgitation and Sunil Rao, MD, FACC on the role of PCI in the modern era. This was followed by a talk with Paul Troup, MD, FACC, Macy Smith Jr., MD and Russell Reeves, MD, FACC comparing the use of drugs, devices, or ablation for common arrhythmias, and an update on treatment for peripheral arterial disease from John Eagan, Jr., MD, FACC. Robert Brock, MD, FACC presented an HTN update, and the conference ended with the top ten recommendations for primary care physicians regarding cardiac care.

All the presentations leaned towards practical application. "From the beginning, our goal was to provide timely and useful data for the practitioner," Chandler said. Judging from participant comments, the conference appears to have been successful in this regard.

"It's always a great conference," said Calvin Shaffer, MD, who practices at the Baptist Health Center in Centerpoint. "They provide the freshest, most useful information for the primary care practitioner. I've attended every year."

"As a primary care physician, heart problems make up a large part of my practice," said William Peinhardt, MD of Cullman Internal Medicine. "This is an excellent way to find out what's available for my patients with cardiology."

"It's a really good conference," said Vicki Martin, MD. "The session on cardiovascular imaging was a good review for primary care doctors like myself. I plan to incorporate the information on stress ECHOs, which were reported as having the same accuracy as a stress nuclear test without radiation exposure."

Ultimately, it may be that the cardiologists who present and the primary care attendees both benefit. After all, according to Cavender, "the primary goal of the conference is for all of us to learn from each other and be better physicians as a result."

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Brad Cavender, Cardiovascular Associates, Jerry Chandler


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