Annual Conference Is ‘Family’ Reunion for First Registrant

November 14, 2018
If you want proof that the Society really is one family of professionals, look no further than Firas Saidi, MD, CMD, the first registrant for the 2019 annual conference. He achieved this distinction because he went online to confirm his travel dates so he could meet up with a friend at the meeting. While he was on the conference website, he decided to register. The friend? Christopher Joncas, MD, CMD, the first registrant for the 2018 annual conference (featured here). “I had texted him with my travel plans, then found out that I was the first registrant for 2019. I haven’t decided whether to tell him or let me be surprised when he reads this article,” Dr. Saidi says.

While he didn’t anticipate being first to register, that he would sign up was never in question. “I’ve been attending the annual conference for over 10 years. It’s the only place I can get relevant and up-to-date information for the post-acute and long-term care [PALTC] space,” Dr. Saidi says. “There’s always something interesting happening, always something out of the box and innovative. I get exposure to new ideas and information, and I’m able to get different perspectives and viewpoints.” Then, he takes everything home to share with the teams in his facilities and his colleagues in the Pennsylvania Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (of which he is president).

The programming is enough to bring Dr. Saidi to the annual conference. But the connections, networking, and interactions are invaluable to him as well. For instance, he recalls a Red-Eye Rounds session that was game-changing. “I had a question for the panel about a quality metric which had been challenging for me and more than one of my facilities, despite several attempted interventions. One of the panelists, a very experienced practitioner, suggested that I start a QAPI [Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement] project to address it,” Dr. Saidi explains. He thought about this challenge presented to him, and he took the “energy” back to a “new, enthusiastic” director of nursing. They held meetings, conducted root cause analyses, and found some areas where they could intervene. “To my pleasant surprise, we saw a tremendous improvement in that quality measure. I remain grateful to that clinician,” Dr. Saidi says.

As a long-time member, Certified Medical Director, and alumnus of the Foundation Futures Program, Dr. Saidi has many friends he looks forward to seeing at the conference, such as Dr. Joncas. In fact, the meeting is a reunion of sorts; he and his friends always enjoy some camaraderie and, when time permits, some culinary adventures.  “We always try to explore something new,” he says.

While Dr. Saidi looks forward to visiting Atlanta, he notes that he always goes to the Society annual conference no matter where it’s held. “The location is a factor for some meetings I attend, but not the Society’s. I go no matter where it is, and I’ve never been disappointed. The planning committee and staff always do a fantastic job of choosing a great location and putting together an excellent program,” he says.

When Dr. Saidi came to the United States from Iraq 20-some years ago, he brought his cultural heritage and many wonderful family memories with him; these have served him well in his PALTC career. He says, “In Eastern cultures, you take care of your parents and grandparents. There is great respect and reverence for elders, and I was fortunate to have a wonderful family. Long-term care seemed like a calling and a commitment to meet the needs of our frail older patients.” He especially loves nursing homes, he says, because “you can use your expertise and touch more lives than sitting in an office. You also are contributing to the system and to the interdisciplinary team.”

Register here for the 2019 annual conference. Make sure you join or renew your Society membership beforehand to take advantage of the discounted member rate. You also should register for the conference by December 12 to get the Early Bird rate.