Reprinted with permission from the e-Newsletter of the Western Occupational & Environmental Medical Association, February 2011
WOEMA Board Pledges Support for New CA Public Protection & Physician Health Program by Walt Newman, MD
To our California physician-colleagues:
We have often been admonished “Physician, heal thyself.” I never really understood the meaning of this, so a bit of reading was in order.
In researching “Physician heal thyself,” I was surprised to learn that this is a Biblical quote, from the Book of Luke. It has withstood the test of the millennia.
The concept of “physicians healing themselves” can be difficult to understand, but suggests to me that physicians, while often being able to help the sick, when sick themselves, are no better placed than anyone else.
A similar bit of wisdom came from my Grandmother: “The cobbler has no shoes.” Grandma warns us that perhaps cobblers are too poor or too busy to attend to their own footwear.
The question before us now is “Shall we remain shoeless cobblers or can we again be physicians healing ourselves?”
In 2007, the Medical Board of California eliminated the 27-year-old California Diversion Program, making California one of a very few states without any central physician health program. The remedy for physician impairment currently lies in judicial proceedings only – through the California Deputy Attorneys-General.
A new strategy for Physician healing has begun in California – through the “California Patient Protection and Physician Health” or “CPPPH.”
This will be a full-scale program promoting physician wellness and addressing and preventing impairment. A group of stakeholders including the California Medical Association (CMA), California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM), California Hospital Association (CHA), Kaiser, and many other groups have joined hands to make CPPPH a reality.
The CPPPH goal is to be funded by physician license fees and by the physicians utilizing its services. But it needs our enthusiasm and financial support to get it off the ground.
CPPPH is in its infancy and I am proud to announce that your WOEMA board has committed $2,000 of WOEMA’s budget to get the ball rolling.
Additionally, several WOEMA Board members have joined in making personal pledges to get CPPH started.
Will you join us in this pioneering effort? You may read more about CPPPH at cppph.org and send a donation (made payable to CPPPH) with this CPPPH contribution form to:
California Public Protection and Physician Health, Inc.
Attn: Lisa Folberg
1201 J Street, Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95814
CPPPH, Inc. is a non-profit organization and donations are 100% deductible as charitable contributions. EIN: # 27-3452546
WOEMA as an organization is committed to physician wellness, and to the ancient command of “Physician heal thyself.”
Thank you for your consideration of this vital issue. — Walt Newman, MD, President-elect of WOEMA.