I’m from NY, and June 1 was “opening day” for our office. It has been highly frustrating to be unable to take care of our patients for so long, but my enthusiasm for being in the office has never been higher. It’s great to be back. The headaches and the lost sleep of running a small business, however, remain. Expenses aren’t going away, yet cash flow is significantly reduced. Where we once had certainty, we now have significant uncertainty. And we have questions. Lots of them.
As your Trustee to the AAO, I wear a second business hat. The AAO has worked 24/7 over the last few months to bring support to our members. We worked with the ADA and the CDC to understand the regulatory situation and provide guidance. The entire AAO staff and volunteer leadership moved into crisis mode. We may have been able to put our offices on “pause,” but your AAO upped its game in both time and effort.
- Communications were enhanced through daily Coronavirus emails and resources were frequently updated at AAOinfo.org to provide members with a go-to place for answers.
- The Annual Session pivoted to A Virtual Experience, with free registration for members.
- A Library of Webinars and Educational Resources were made Open Access with CE and No Charge to Members.
- Membership Payments were Reduced by $500 and Dues Invoices were Delayed from June 1 to August 3.
On March 16, the AAO Board of Directors canceled the AAO Annual Session in Atlanta. Over the next 6 weeks, the AAO team reconfigured the Annual Session into a Virtual Meeting. The Board of Trustees and the members of the House of Delegates worked to find the best path forward to financially sustain the organization knowing the impact the pandemic has had on the members. The lost revenue of the Annual Session alone totaled approximately $2.5 million. However, the AAO entered the pandemic in a financially healthy position with good reserves. Decisions were made to fund the Consumer Awareness Program primarily from reserves for this year. This will allow for continued education of the public at this critical time while REDUCING the total bill you receive from the AAO this year by $500 compared to last year.
Finally, to further ease any initial burden on members we delayed dues for this fiscal year from June 1 to August 3. Payment plans were also expanded. The AAO is doing what it takes to create great value for its members and at the same time create pathways for everyone to maintain membership. Sustaining our membership is critical for the AAO as it is our cashflow. The lifeblood of the association. So thank you for being a member.
I wish all great success in our re-opening. Be well and stay safe.
John Callahan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
NESO Trustee to AAO