Board Cycle: Refocusing, Reconnecting

Michael Barsotti, MD, FAAP
President, WCAAP

Each year, as winter begins to loosen its grip, we predictably begin to look forward to the regrowth that spring promises.  Similarly, as the frenzy of the legislative cycle winds down, the WCAAP begins to refocus our attention on other and new priorities.  Additionally, this is the time of year that we prepare to say goodbye to some of our cherished board members and welcome new board members onto our team. 

With hearts heavy with gratitude, we say goodbye to Bob Hilt, Thatcher Felt, and Rishi Mistry.  Each one of these incredible board members has contributed significantly to our mission.  As a psychiatrist, Bob offered invaluable insights as we navigated solutions for the ever-worsening pediatric and adolescent behavior health crisis.  Thatcher not only represented Central Washington’s vibrant pediatric medical community, but he also offered leadership for our Transformation Committee, which we can all agree was an incredibly heavy lift. Both Bob and Thatcher also sit on our state’s Children and Youth Behavioral Health Workgroup and are powerful advocates in Olympia. Rishi, the first Advanced Practice Practitioner board member, shared his insights, advice, and contributions, proving just how important the voice of his colleagues is to our work. The fruits born from the work of these three incredibly dedicated and gifted clinicians will benefit the children of Washington for years to come.

In the words of our Nominations Committee, “replacing the irreplaceable” was daunting, but our new board members come to us with a wealth of experience and diversity.  With unbounded enthusiasm we welcome Drs. Yolanda Evans (Adolescent Medicine, Seattle), Erik Loraas (Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Spokane), Anna Snyder (Pediatrics, Yakima), Maria Huang, (Pediatrics, Olympia), and Jacqui Justus (NP, Seattle).  We are excited to get to know you and we welcome you to our team!  Our future is indeed bright.

In early June, we had an in-person WCAAP Board meeting in Leavenworth.  After two years of remote meetings, we finally, safely came together to begin the process of re-establishing our ties and friendships.  The adage that you never quite realize what you have until you lose it was clearly demonstrated during our “virtual” isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Our reunion (of sorts) truly showed us what we had missed during the necessary but painful interlude of virtual meetings. Reconnecting over friendships and shared passions was good for the soul. 

At the meeting we addressed the exciting growth of our organization and the need to support our staff as we transition to embracing a large scope of work.  We also spent time focusing on the structure of our organization, to better support our priorities for the upcoming year, which include Board and Membership Engagement, the Behavioral Health Crisis, Patient Trust (especially around immunizations), the Social Determinants of Health, Burnout and WCAAP Sustainability. We set an ambitious path forward, and we will need to count on your continued engagement to achieve lasting advancements in child health and well-being.

As we look forward to another year, undoubtedly full of new challenges and successes, I urge you to take a beat and consider your own personal wellbeing.  Self-care is never selfish and ultimately critical to success.

As always, thank you for your dedication and support