President’s Message: An Introduction

Michael Barsotti, MD, FAAP
President, WCAAP

July marks the transition in our Executive Committee to our new leadership. As I begin my role as the President of the WCAAP I thought I would take a moment and introduce myself. I am a neonatologist by training; I began my career in Orange County, California, but moved to Washington in 1998 (making me practically a native at this point).  3 years ago, I transitioned into administrative medicine as the Chief Administrative Officer at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane—jokingly moving to the “dark side”.  I have twin girls, one in her pediatric residency at the University of Chicago, while the other writing comedy for TV in LA (though she tried to avoid medicine, she just finished working on the first season of a Doogie Howser, MD reboot for Disney!).  Beyond medicine, my wife and I enjoy traveling and hiking.  Currently we have attempting to learn to play golf (one word:  frustrating!)

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic to what will certainly be a new reality and norm, I thank you for trusting in me to help lead the way.  I am humbled by the faith you have put in me and will do my very best to earn that trust.  Rest assured that I will be reaching out for advice and help to guarantee that we are working together to advance the care of children and adolescents in the coming years. Supporting primary care pediatrics remains one of the pillars of the WCAAP and we will continue to remain laser focused on topics related to improving care delivery in all areas of the state.  Additionally, one of my goals will be to advance the voice of the pediatric subspecialists. I believe that the intersection between primary and specialty care is the key to integrated care. We will also continue to address diversity and inclusion as a barrier to care, acknowledging that real change comes incrementally:  it’s not a sprint but a marathon.  And finally we will continue our work in advocacy, building on our truly remarkable past successes.

I finally I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that I begin my term at a time when the WCAAP is at its strongest.  This did not happen by accident.  I begin by standing on the shoulders of giants.  Enough cannot be said of the truly amazing contributions that our two outgoing officers, Rupin Thakkar and James Polo, have made to the WCAAP.  The same can be said of Elizabeth Meade, out outgoing President, but fortunately for us she will remain on the Executive Committee, sharing her skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm for 2 more years.  These three have truly defined “physician leaders” and I can only hope to walk in their footsteps, learning from their example.  A mere thank you seems inadequate, but truly thank you for all that you have done and accomplished.

I would like to close by sharing my optimism of where we are headed as a group.  Under the guidance of Sarah Rafton, I believe that we will continue to accomplish great things for our children.  Undoubtedly, we will face new challenges in the next year and, as we did with the pandemic, you can count on us to stand bedside you, lending a hand when and where we can.