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Farewell Message from John M. Fontaine, MD
17th President of the ABC, 2018 - 2020
It has been a privilege and honor to serve as the 17th President of the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC). Paramount among the multiple tasks undertaken over the past two years was the promotion of the mission of the ABC, i.e. to decrease the burden of cardiovascular disease and stroke in all people with particular emphasis on blacks and other minorities; and the reduction of disparities in access and outcomes in the management of cardiovascular disease. These objectives were particularly germane given the need to disseminate and promulgate new ACC/AHA treatment guidelines for the management of hypertension and elevated blood cholesterol - conditions that disproportionately plague minority populations. Additionally, the ABC was an important signatory to these guidelines aimed at reducing the knowledge gap among clinicians and improving cardiovascular outcomes. Embarking on the achievement of these objectives required particular attention to infrastructural elements within the ABC, collaborative efforts with our industry partners, and joint activities with other professional societies. I can truly say that employing ABC’s educational, research and advocacy components, and committee structure enabled the accomplishment of major objectives. With regard to internal operations, charters and communication processes were created and enacted. New members were also added to the board of directors and committees, thus fostering diversity and broadening the scope of expertise within the organization. Our continuing education committee achieved accreditation with commendation for the third consecutive 6-year review cycle and the membership grew by approximately 15%. On becoming a member of the ABC, it is dutiful to pay membership dues. However, the organization is a doer organization and thrives on active participation as a requisite for its success.

The organization has achieved a number of successes over the past 2 years, and a few can be enumerated. The Access to Care Initiative’s roundtables conducted under the guidance of Dr. Keith Ferdinand and many others have created critical resource kits, (available online) that facilitate stroke, heart failure and lipid management - the latter is particularly relevant regarding appropriate utilization of PCSK9 inhibitors. Awareness campaigns and investigative activities are currently underway with respect to the recognition and treatment of hereditary cardiac amyloidosis (hATTR) affecting the black population. ABC members’ (particularly Dr. Foluso Fakorede) activities facilitated the creation of a Congressional Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Caucus in 2019. Presentations (by Dr. Aaron Horne) to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) helped create new recommendations for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), which were more favorable to minority communities (although this is still a work in progress). Joint symposia have been held with multiple societies including the American College of Cardiology (ACC), American Heart Association (AHA), Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), Transcatheter Therapeutics (TCT), and National Medical Association (NMA), as well as recent planning of such with the American Medical Association (AMA) and cooperative activities with the National Minority Physicians Alliance (NMPA). All the above have served to promote mutual goals and objectives. Among the most notable accomplishments of my tenure has been 1) the deployment of the ABC Collaborative Value-Based Care Program, a nationwide disparity resolution project that received significant support from Boston Scientific Corp., in conjunction with its Close the Gap initiative that was assisted by gifting of echocardiogram machines from Siemens Corporation 2) The collaboration with the ACC Foundation (ACCF) in its Campaign for the Future (Chairman Dr. John Harold), a fundraising activity in support of Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion, and Global Health. The brainchild of the collaborative effort with the ABC was Dr. C. Michael Valentine – a past president of the ACC. The ACCF has signed a memorandum of understanding with the ABC which will conjoin fundraising gains and provide a proportional distribution that will serve to support ABC programs in concert with campaign objectives and 3) Development of ABC’s research network with the addition of a clinical research coordinator as well as essential tools for implementation research and outreach to physician-researchers in minority communities thus enhancing minority participation in clinical trials.

I thank all members of the executive committee and our CEO, Cassandra McCullough, for their dedication, support, and attention to relevant matters of the ABC; Dr. Cheryl Pegus, the Chair of the board of directors, for her diligence, organizational skills and contribution in many areas including the bolstering of ABC’s online infrastructure. A special thanks to Lionel Phillips, president of Inside Edge Consulting Group, ABC’s business development team, for providing timely proposals and fruitful collaboration with our industry partners. I believe that ABC Founder Dr. Richard Allen Williams is proud of the many accomplishments of the organization guided by the current leadership and those who preceded me.

Advancing the goals of the ABC cannot be achieved without a firm commitment to embrace change and maintain continued excellence - for you cannot change what you don’t confront. I believe that a consistent operational approach guided by continued high ethics and ‘compassion without compromise’ will benefit the organization and most importantly the communities we serve. The efforts and contributions of Immediate Past President and Chair – Drs. Barbara Hutchinson and Felix Sogade were vital and cannot be overlooked. I am extremely grateful to our corporate partners for their enduring collaboration and steadfast commitment to the goals of the ABC, as we strive to achieve our mutual objectives. The accomplishments of the ABC would not be feasible without the hard work, dedication and tireless commitment of our wonderful staff, whose motivation is embodied in a ‘never say no attitude’. The future of the ABC remains bright and full of optimism, with capable leaders awaiting the opportunity to propel the organization further along the path of continued success. I am thankful for the contributions of our members and welcome new ones wholeheartedly.

Congratulations and a hearty welcome to Drs. Michelle Albert and Elizabeth Ofili, incoming President and Chair, respectively, of the ABC.

Sincerely,

John M. Fontaine MD, MBA, FHRS, FACC



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