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Monday Rx: LACMA Initiatives, CalMedForce Awards and Virtual Grand Rounds

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Southern California Medical Society President’s Council Leads

As mentioned in previous Monday Rx’s, LACMA president Dr. Diana Shiba convened seven other medical society presidents to discuss how to better collaborate, now, more than ever. One example of a success is the #medicineformasks campaign. The campaign focuses on the importance of mask wearing, social distancing and support of public health officers. Each society president signed a letter of support. The goal continues to be to work better, together, share insights and resources whenever possible in support of medicine, patients, communities and public health.
View Official Letter Here

An Unprecedented Gathering


The #medicineformasks conversation helped propel another aligned initiative: the convening of local healthcare leaders to discuss how to bridge respective organizational efforts. Joining Dr. Shiba and I for this first-ever zoom call last Friday were: Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Charles R. Drew School of Medicine; Dr. Greg Moran, Olive View UCLA Medical Center, Emergency Department; Dr. John Uyanne, MLK Comprehensive Health Center, Infection Control Los Angeles Department of Public Health; Kurt Peterson, UNITE HERE Local 11. Media coverage was extensive as was social media sharing.

View the COVID-19 Briefing and Backgrounder here.

COVID-19 Snapshot of Headlines

  • Full results with Moderna's coronavirus vaccine indicate 94.1% efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in a 30,000-person trial. The company said it will apply for emergency use authorization (EUA) today.
  • Meanwhile, shipments of Pfizer's and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine to the U.S. from Belgium have begun, as they await their EUA.
  • AstraZeneca's vaccine dosing snafu may force it to conduct a whole new clinical trial.
  • Separately, an alleged serious "neurological and psychological" adverse reaction during AstraZeneca's trial in India is under investigation.
  • The vaccination campaign will pose a "mind-blowing" challenge for poor, rural states.
  • Fears loom of a "a surge on top of a surge" following the Thanksgiving holiday travel boom.
  • As of Monday, at 8:00 a.m. EST, the unofficial COVID-19 toll was 13,386,255 cases and 266,887 deaths, an increase of over 1.1 million cases and 9,909 deaths since last Monday.
  • To support hospital surge capacity, CMS relaxed rules on hospital care in the home and how long ambulatory surgical centers can provide inpatient care.
  • In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court struck down some of New York state's strict pandemic-related limits on religious gatherings.
  • A woman in Singapore who got SARS-CoV-2 while pregnant reportedly gave birth to a baby with antibodies against the virus.
  • Los Angeles County will ban almost all private and public gatherings starting Monday.
  • Los Angeles County data: 5,014 new cases on 11/29 and 16 deaths in last 24 hours.

Sources: CBS, Reuters, Bloomberg, Washington Post, The Hill, STAT


Dr. Joseph Varon Seen Comforting Elderly Patient in Heartbreaking Photo Speaks Out

Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston was photographed hugging an elderly patient of his on Thanksgiving day. His patient, like many COVID-19 patients, was not able to be with his wife for the holiday and couldn't help but to break down crying.

Dr. Varon works day in and day out without any breaks, 256 days to be exact, and understands the frustration and isolation that many COVID-19 patients go through. Watch the video clip here to hear more about this relatable story that many physicians experience on the front lines.

State Tobacco Tax-Funded Program Awards $38.14 Million to Expand California’s Health Care Workforce

Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC) announced more than $38 million in CalMedForce awards across the state to support medical training and residency programs and help grow the physician workforce.

The third round of CalMedForce funding, released by PHC and generated by the voter-approved Proposition 56 tobacco tax in 2016, will support 202 residency positions in 101 graduate medical education (GME) programs at hospitals and clinics, with an emphasis on those serving medically underserved groups and communities. This cycle represented the largest applicant pool: 541 residents and 122 applications requesting over $95 million in funding.

The California Future Health Workforce Commission estimated that California will need 4,700 additional primary care clinicians by 2025 and approximately 4,100 more by 2030 to meet demand. PHC, in partnership with the University of California (UC), established the CalMedForce grant program to help address California’s looming physician shortage because medical school graduates must continue training in an accredited, specialty-specific GME residency program to obtain a medical license and care for patients independently.

“CalMedForce continues to demonstrate the high demand and need for GME opportunities,” said Lupe Alonzo-Diaz, MPA, PHC president and CEO. “The lack of sufficient residency spots contributes to California’s physician shortage and limits the number of new doctors entering the workforce. With COVID 19 impacting life for the foreseeable future, programs like CalMedForce are even more essential to protect access to care for all Californians.”

The UC is the designated recipient of Proposition 56 funding and has contracted with PHC to administer CalMedForce. All accredited residency programs in the state that meet guidelines are eligible to apply for funding. Of this year’s CalMedForce awardees, approximately 14% of GME programs are sponsored by the University.

To date, CalMedForce has released over $114 million for 261 awards to 121 GME programs across California to retain and expand GME programs in primary care (family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology) and emergency medicine. However, even with the additional funding, the shortage of California residency programs poses an ongoing challenge for expanding the physician workforce.

“We understand the vital statewide need for this program and the funding it provides to support California’s future physicians,” said Cathryn Nation, M.D., Vice President for Health Sciences at UC Office of the President. “The annual demand for funding reflects the importance of this program and its focus on the needs of medically underserved groups and communities.”

View the full list of awardees.


Virtual Grand Rounds: The National COVID-19 Surge and Hope for 2021

A Conversation with State Leaders and Members of President-Elect Joe Biden's Coronavirus Task Force

Join CMA's Virtual Grand Rounds: The National COVID-19 Surge and Hope for 2021 - on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, from 12:00 p.m. PT to 1:30 p.m. PT. 

The nation is already experiencing an unprecedented and widespread surge of COVID-19, which may get further compounded by holiday travel, social gatherings and the risk of co-infection with winter respiratory viruses. 

The California Health and Human Services  Agency (CHHS) and California Medical Association (CMA) are hosting a conversation with physicians that hold central roles in our national COVID-19 response:

As a result of this activity, participants should be able to: 

  • Address physician wellness in the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Assess co-infection risks and testing strategies during the winter respiratory virus season.
  • Discuss state and national strategies during a coronavirus surge
Register Here

Your Chance to Win PPE!


We are raffling off 2 boxes of PPE every 2 weeks until December 31, 2020.  There will be 2 winners (every 2 weeks) and each box contains a 2 month supply of PPE valued at nearly $4,500.

Individual self-paying members are eligible for this raffle. 

How to enter:
To be eligible for this raffle, simply renew your annual membership online or send in your renewal check in the mail and you will automatically be entered for the raffle drawing during that 2-week time frame.  Please note that your name will be entered for only one raffle.

Winner Announcement:
You will receive an email from Lisa Le informing you that you’ve won.

Email Lisa Le at

Enter the current raffle now by clicking the renewal link below.

Renew Membership


"We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy."

Gustavo Friederichsen
Chief Executive Officer
Los Angeles County Medical Association
“If it matters to our LACMA members, it matters to me.”