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Physician Advocate Photo Credit: Don Addison

Volume 8, Issue 1

Inside: ‘MSNJ Docs in the News,’ Profile on AMA-MSS Chair LeAnne Roberts, NJ Plastic Surgeons Elects New President, ‘Corner Office,’ MSNJ’s 2012-2013 Advocacy Agenda and Wrap-Up, 2012 Annual Meeting Photos

Corner Office MSNJ CEO & General Counsel

Lawrence Downs, Esq. Get connected to MSNJ!



n the world of associations, communication with members is important for advocacy, educational programming and member retention. New technology should make communicating with members more efficient and easier for both the association and the membership. However effective communication still requires effort on the part of both parties. One of my challenges to the MSNJ staff is to continually improve our communication options with members. We work every day to find better communication channels to reach physicians. Taking my own challenge to heart, this year I absolved to become engaged in the new world of social media. As a lawyer, I have had

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reservations about social media and potential negative outcomes of “tweeting” what might be construed as legal advice to the masses. Recently, I opened a Twitter account and have entered the world of communication via 140 characters or less. MSNJ is launching new and different ways you can connect with MSNJ. In this new age of social media you have many choices to stay connected. A significant communication issue for MSNJ is creating ways to have our communications stand out from all the other communications our member physicians receive on a daily basis. Two exciting communication channels MSNJ will add in the next few months are DocBookMD and a social media based membership system..

for a HIPAA violation. This new app eliminates the risk of texting and allows secure communication among physicians. In the next few months MSNJ will implement a new cloudbased database to manage our member data. This new database also will allow our members to communicate in groups or communities by interest, specialty, committee etc through forums. The new database will be fully integrated with so a member can customize a webpage, change or update their membership data to add new contact or address information. We are also embracing our role as the convener of all physicians in New Jersey by bringing you insight into medical specialty societies.

In this issue you will also see an introductory article featuring Valerie J. Ablaza, MD, F.A.C.S. President, New Jersey Society What we have of Plastic Surgeons. MSNJ is here is a failure to taking an active role to better communicate with all specialty communicate. societies. We will feature a Paul Newman, “Cool Hand Luke.” different specialty society president in the next few issues and co-promote activities and educational programming to bring DocBookMD is a physicianall physicians together. to-physician communication application that can be It is more important than ever to be downloaded to your iphone proactive in our efforts to represent or android phone through the all physicians with the significant Apple App Store or the Andriod rate of change in our healthcare Marketplace. system. MSNJ is ramping up its communications efforts to be more This application is available to inclusive and more collaborative physicians only. It allows HIPAA with our partners in the healthcare compliant communication from system. physician to physician to share clinical information to improve care for patients. Texting clinical information could form the basis

Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

Making History at the AMA

Article by: Kaylyn Kendall Dines/UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School


eAnne J. Roberts knew she had to respond when members of Congress were on the verge of slashing Medicare funds last November. If enacted, the proposed reductions would drastically impact medical residency programs and Medicare reimbursements for physicians nationwide. So, she teamed up with fellow medical students to urge lawmakers to increase Graduate Medical Education funding. According to Roberts, legislators throughout the U.S. received approximately 30,000 emails and 20,000 calls in just 36 hours. This flurry of activism occurred just two days after Roberts was named chair-elect of the American Medical Association’s Medical Student Section (AMA– MSS). She is a fourth-year student at NJMS who is pursuing a graduate degree in public health. Roberts and T.R. Eckler, the current AMA–MSS chair, a student at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, received this project from AMA headquarters. Their charge was to swiftly galvanize support from the organization’s membership of 50,000 medical students to influence public policy. Here’s why: The Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, dubbed the “super

come together on an issue that we really care about,” says Roberts, who considers herself an “East Coaster” even though she was born in Sacramento, CA. Roberts will continue promoting her message in June when she succeeds Eckler for a one-year term as chair of the AMA–MSS, the nation’s largest and most influential organization of medical students. She’s held several leadership positions with the AMA since 2008, her first year in medical school.

Photo credit: Andrew Hanenberg

committee,” was attempting to finalize the Budget Deficit Reduction Act. Medicare, which funds Graduate Medical Education, is in jeopardy and this could contribute to the looming national shortage of physicians. “Even though the super committee failed to produce anything, I think our effort says something about future physicians. While we medical students tend to have tunnel vision and only think about our next exam or the next patient, we do have the ability to

This is the second time since 2010 that a member of NJMS has been elected to a top post with the AMA. Peter W. Carmel, MD, DMedSci, an internationally recognized pediatric neurosurgeon and chair emeritus at NJMS, is currently the AMA President. Roberts refers to Carmel as one of her “top mentors.” According to Carmel, Roberts is well suited to lead. “The reason LeAnne was elected was because she understood the problems related to the state of health care. She is more than just an advocate, she’s knowledgeable. There are very few people in the room who have a better understanding of

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Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

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Continued from page 3

Photo credit: Andrew Hanenberg what is happening than LeAnne,” says Carmel. “She translates that knowledge as her message in a way that is not overbearing, her manner is very pleasing, and very informative. It is collegial. She is not trying to be the majordomo. ‘You and I can understand this, we can do this’ is her attitude.” This future OB-GYN juggles course work, her AMA responsibilities, and a parttime gig in retail along with two of her favorite pastimes: baking and reading Civil War history books. She also likes football and rugby. Roberts recalls visiting NJMS when

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she was a student at Rutgers. “The first time I stepped on this campus I felt like this is where I belonged. I just felt that this is my new home. Before I went into my interview and I was walking up the escalators I said, I have to be here. I can’t describe it and I couldn’t reproduce it anywhere else that I went to interview. Five minutes before I walked into my interview I said, I have to be here.”

third-year student at NJMS and the current chair of the student section of MSNJ, the oldest professional medical society in America. Mishra thinks Roberts’ best quality is her ability to intrigue people and get them excited about issues they may not regularly ponder. “It’s really hard not to pay attention to her. She’s so passionate and sincere about what she believes in. It makes you want to be as motivated and as passionate about the issues.”

Since that day, she has thrived on and off campus. Roberts was an Arnold P. Gold Humanism Honor Society inductee in 2011 and a Pozen Community Scholar in 2010. She’s accumulated a list of memberships, affiliations and achievements and will graduate with the Class of 2013 earning both her MD and her Master’s. When Roberts realized medical students in New Jersey did not have formal representation in the state’s medical society, she worked diligently with colleagues to form an official Medical Student Section at the Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ). She articulated student needs while serving as a member of the Board of Trustees at MSNJ for two years.

An advocate at heart, Roberts is motivated by empowering others. As a third-year student she completed a clinical rotation in the OB– GYN unit of University Hospital (UH). At first she thought her growing interest in health-related policy “had pulled me so far out of wanting to do clinical medicine, but I woke up every day excited to go into UH for my rotation. I had a blast. It was such a great learning experience. I had some of the best teachers that you could possibly ask for while I was on rotation. It made me remember that this is why I’m here. So, I do know that I want to practice, but I don’t know if you’re going to get 30 or 40 years out of me.”

“Our society is actively involved and supportive of our efforts to maintain the viability and future of the profession in our state,” says Roberts, whose parents, Leander and Shirley Roberts, are her heroes. Her father retired as a lieutenant colonel after 27 years in the Air Force and is now in education. Her mother is a career educator. Roberts’ enthusiasm and passion for progress are as infectious as her smile. Just ask Avantika Mishra, a

You might wonder how she manages so many responsibilities. Roberts, age 26, says, “If you ask most med students, prior to coming to medical school if they thought that they would be able to function the way they do now, they would say, ‘no way.’ But when you’re thrown into it, you just figure it out and make it happen.”

Reprinted with Permission from New Jersey Medical School PULSE Volume 10, Number 1 Winter|Spring 2012

Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

Dr. Masucci found a better way. power of a web-based network like athenahealth is that “The it has created a seamless integration between our billing and clinical services, allowing us to focus on patient care, which is our ultimate goal.

Here’s what he did. After 30 years running a solo pediatric practice, Dr. Peter E. Masucci found a better way to manage his practice. Now, he spends more time with patients than ever and he’s getting paid the money he’s owed — when he’s owed it. With athenahealth’s integrated web-based billing, practice management, and electronic health record services, he’s been able to:  Reduce Days in Accounts Receivable by 65%  Increase the percentage of claims paid at their contracted rate from 62% to 99%  Find that elusive work/life balance he’s been searching for

Here’s how he did it.  Low-cost, web-based, CCHIT-certified software  A constantly updated, patented database of insurance and clinical rules  Back-office services to handle your most time-consuming tasks Sound interesting? As a Medical Society of New Jersey member, you may qualify for a discount on athenaCollectorSM. To learn more about our billing, practice management and EHR services, visit

l or call 800.981.5085

*Dr. Peter E. Masucci participates in athenahealth’s National Showcase Client Program. For more information on this program, please visit

Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

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MSNJ’s 2012 Annual Business Meeting and Inaugural Gala Honoring 220th President, Mary F. Campagnolo, MD, MBA May 4-5, 2012 Mount Laurel, NJ

Photo Credits: Don Addison

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Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

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Advocacy Agenda


Insurance Reforms

Tort Reform

Scope of Practice

• Charity Care Credit? • Gross Receipts Tax • Reduction? Elimination? • Single Room Surgical • Practices

• Affidavit of Merit Reform • “Net Opinion Rule” • Others? “Take What We Can, When We Can” • Seek discovery doctrine • reform to address statute of limitations expansion

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• Health Insurance Exchanges • Fair Contracts Defense • Out-of-Network Reform • PIP –UCR, Rental Networks, Arbitration

• Truth In Advertising • Genetic Counseling • Chiropractic • Psychology Prescribing

Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine


Granted leave to appear in two New Jersey Supreme Court cases as amici curiae to defend the affidavit of merit and same specialty expert witness requirements, and to object to the judicial expansion of the statute of limitations through the discovery doctrine


Repeal of the cosmetic surgery tax Continue to fight against the Ambulatory Care Facility gross receipt tax Defeated extension of the Ambulatory Surgery Tax to physician owned one-room surgical practices


Persuaded the Department of Banking & Insurance (DOBI) to release proposed rules on networks and fair contracting with healthcare insurers


• Stopped proposed legislation that would punish out-of-network providers, by: 1. making it a crime to waive certain fees; and 2. requiring primary care providers to research specialists’ network status and charges, among other things.


Secured sponsors for legislation that will prohibit insurer ranking of physicians unless they can accurately evaluate and disclose performance in a meaningful way


Achieved revisions to DOBI’s comprehensive PIP rules including the removal of the workers compensation network and over 100 controversial codes


Supported legal effort which resulted in a New Jersey Supreme Court opinion reversing earlier decisions extending plenary scope to physician assistants Achieved through rule-making physician supervision of patient referrals and ordering of tests by physician assistants Objected to chiropractors’ proposed expansion that would allow them to perform school sports physical examinations


Maintained the right of physicians to refer their own patients to their own facilities without raising legal issues


Supported the law that will allow Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) to manage patients’ directions for end-of-life care Reversed law that required prisoners to be released with a copy of their entire medical record, including psychiatric notes, which now may be summarized

Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

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Stopped the 27+% Medicare fee cut

Partnered with other state medical and specialty societies to introduce a bill that would allow private contracting with Medicare patients; this has resulted in introduction of H.R. 1700, the “Medicare Patient Empowerment Act”

Supported the initiative to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB); Congressman Runyon (R-3) is a co-sponsor of the bill; Congressmen Pallone (D-6) and Lance (R-7), both on the Assembly Energy & Commerce Committee and Health Sub-Committee, support the repeal

Led the New Jersey initiative to repeal the SGR (sustainable growth rate); Congressmen Pallone and Lance support the repeal


Spearheaded the initiative to convince the AMA to lobby Congress for legislation to predict, prevent, and manage drug shortages; this resulted in the introduction of H.R. 2245, the “Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act”

PAYMENT ISSUES: Supported deadline extensions: • to apply for a hardship exemption from the 2012 e-prescribing penalty • for 5010 compliance • for ICD-10 implementation Opposed Medicare proposal to expand overpayment look-back period to ten years.


Objected to proposed regulations under the Sunshine Law which require pharmaceutical and device manufacturers to aggregate and attribute transfers of value to physicians in the amount of $10

Filed comments on the Medicare Shared Savings (ACO) proposal which resulted in positive changes to the program

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Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

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Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

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Employment Agreements and Restrictive Covenants There is increasing evidence that physicians are choosing to become employees, either by hospital systems, or in other healthcare facilities or delivery systems. Even in the traditional model of a small medical practice, the new, non-owner physician may be asked to sign an employment agreement. Often Partnership agreements include reciprocal employment agreements. Clearly, physicians should understand the terms and conditions of any employment agreement under which they are currently bound and, in the current healthcare environment, any employment agreement that they are considering entering into. Most employment agreements will contain a restrictive covenant. A legally enforceable restrictive covenant will constrain future plans, so it is imperative that physicians carefully consider the restriction and seek legal counsel experienced in New Jersey healthcare law before signing such a covenant. The following article explains pertinent case law and the resulting legal standard for restrictive covenants in New Jersey.

Restrictive Covenants in the New Era By Frank R. Ciesla, Esq. and Sharlene A. Hunt, Esq.


ur law firm represented the physician group, Medical Health Centers, in the litigation captioned Pierson v. Medical Health Centers, P.A. We are specifically using this case as an example because of the clear conflict, within the medical community, as to the validity of restrictive covenants. Those physicians who have current practices and are employing physicians strongly believe that they are entitled to a restrictive covenant in the contracts with those employed physicians. Physicians coming out of medical school into the community equally believe that they are entitled after they have established themselves in the community, to set up their own practice. The fundamental conflict is the fact that their opportunity to set up that practice was provided by the employer and that such a practice will be competitive to the employer.

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The Medical Health Centers case involved a restrictive covenant in an employment agreement between a physician employee and a physician practice. The case was decided by the Supreme Court simultaneously with a case captioned The Community Hospital Group, Inc. v. More, which involved a restrictive covenant in an employment agreement between a physician employee and a hospital, JFK Medical Center. The Supreme Court ultimately determined that the restrictive covenant in the Medical Health Centers case was enforceable. In the Community Hospital Group case, the Court determined that the restriction was not enforceable because it was not reasonable under all of the circumstances. Both cases are instructive in understanding physician restrictive covenants. In light of the legitimate conflict between the interest of the employer and the employee physician, the Courts apply a reasonableness

standard in scrutinizing restrictive covenants. In determining whether a restrictive covenant is reasonable, the courts apply a three prong test: 1) whether the restriction protects the legitimate interests of the employer, 2) whether it imposes an undue hardship on the physician, and 3) whether it is injurious to the public. The AMA takes a similar approach, saying it is unethical to impose a restrictive covenant in a physician agreement if it is “excessive in geographic scope or duration in the circumstances presented” or if it fails to “make reasonable accommodation of patients’ choice of physician.” Under the first prong, in looking at whether the restriction protects the legitimate interest of the employer, the Courts will look at the geographic area and time restraints of the restriction and determine whether they are necessary to protect the employer’s interests, which may

Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

include the employer’s relationships with its patients. For example, the employer could show that it draws a significant number of its patients from the restricted area and that the restraint is necessary to protect its relationships. For the second prong of the test, undue hardship on the physician has to be more than just personal hardship (i.e., a long commute). Where the employee terminates the employment relationship, courts are less likely to find undue hardship. However, in some unreported cases, the courts have looked at promises made by the employer which were not fulfilled, bad behavior by the employer leading to the physician resigning after attempts to repair the situation, and other employer bad behavior, to find that enforcing the restriction would result in undue hardship on the employee, even where the employee terminated the relationship. The third prong, whether the restraint is injurious to the public, tolled the death knell in the Community Hospital Group case involving JFK Medical Center. In that case, the lower court had found that the 30 mile restriction for a neurosurgeon was reasonable, but the Supreme Court reversed, finding that the 30 mile radius could interfere with patients’ ability to obtain neurological services on an emergency basis at nearby Somerset Medical Center. The court “blue penciled” the restriction to 13 miles, with Somerset being 13 1/2 miles from JFK Medical Center. This change was imposed under the third prong,

despite the fact that the court found that JFK Medical Center had made a good case that the restriction was necessary to protect its legitimate interests under the first prong. The courts decide these cases based on all of the facts of the case. That approach, together with the subjective nature of the three prong test of reasonableness, makes it impossible to predict with absolute certainty whether a particular restriction will be upheld. It is necessary, in every situation, to consider the specifics of the employer’s interests that need to be protected, and whether there is a reasonable relationship between those interests and the scope of the restriction being imposed. The examination of restrictive covenants is becoming more important to physicians, in light of the employment of physicians by hospitals or by captive physician practices. No longer are the interests of a relatively small physician practice employer involved, but the much broader interests of a hospital or a large hospital controlled practice with several locations and various specialties. Physician employees must carefully consider and negotiate the terms of a restrictive covenant to avoid being shut out of a large geographic area if the relationship does not work out. An additional consideration is whether the physician is selling his or her practice to the hospital or captive practice, and getting paid separate consideration for the restrictive covenant. In this scenario, a court may be more inclined to uphold a broader covenant because the physician has received consideration for it.

One should also note that the federal government, in the so-called Stark regulations’ exception for a physician recruitment incentive provided by a hospital to an existing practice to recruit a new physician, prohibits the use of a restrictive covenant that would “unreasonably restrict the recruited physician’s ability to practice medicine in the [Stark defined] geographic area served by the hospital.” While this restriction may be beneficial to the recruited physician, the practice that is recruiting the physician may be left in the position of not being able to protect its interests if the relationship is not successful. The reasonableness of a restrictive covenant, in light of all of the circumstances of the specific relationship involved, will be key to its enforceability in a legal challenge. Since a reasonable restrictive covenant will most likely be enforceable, it is critical that a physician entering into an employment agreement with a hospital or other entity understand the full impact of the restrictions contained in the covenant, and try to limit such restrictions to strike a balance between the interest of the employee and of the employer.

Frank R. Ciesla, Esq., is both a Shareholder & Chair, of the Health Care Law Practice of Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla Sharlene Hunt, Esq., is a Shareholder of the Health Care Law Practice of Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla

Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

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Essex County College & Health IT Training – Preparing & Placing Professionals in the Health Care Industry By Denise Anderson, Ph.D., NJ-HITEC Question: What industry will generate the most jobs in the next five to six years? Answer: The health care industry will provide approximately 3.2 million new wage positions between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Bureau of Labor Statistics. The DOL explains that there are many reasons for this growth including the continued rise in the elderly population, advances in medical technology, the shift from inpatient to outpatient care, and the implementation of health information technology (IT). Moreover, the health care industry offers a wide range of job opportunities because of the variety of skills needed to ensure quality health care diagnosis, treatment, and patient care management. From primary care physicians to specialists to home health aides to health IT specialists, the bottom line in health care is that there are jobs to be filled by skilled individuals. Community colleges have traditionally been a valuable resource for providing the necessary training programs to meet the needs of the local job market. The federal government recognizes the value of community colleges, so as part of the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), federal funding was designated through the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT to initiate the Community College Consortia Program (CCCP). The ONC is the principal federal entity mandated to coordinate a

nationwide effort to implement and effectively utilize the most advanced health IT and the electronic exchange of health information to improve the quality of health care delivery for all patients. The ONC is organizationally located within the Office of the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The CCCP was initiated to assist in meeting the ONC’s national Joi Akin receives her ECC Healthcare IT goals by training health Certificate from Dr. Colleen Walton, MD and professionals who, in Mr. Ali Hasmi, Adjunct Instructor. turn, will help implement program that prepares qualified the development and students for employment in the competent use of the nation’s electronic health care IT industry. In electronic health records (EHRs) order to qualify for this free training information system. Moreover, a program, a student must have specific requirement of the grant is a high school diploma or GED; a that the Consortia have to create or expand health IT academic programs background in health care or IT; a letter of reference from an employer that a student can complete in six in health care; and preferably, basic months or less. knowledge of computer software applications. Essex County College (ECC) recognized the growing need in health IT and, along with seven other ECC Associate Dean of Community and Extension Programs, Keith New Jersey community colleges Kirkland explains, “The program is including Brookdale, Burlington, 180 hours of training. At present, Camden, Gloucester, Ocean, we have six classes running Passaic, and Raritan Valley, applied simultaneously with 25 students for and was awarded a part of the in each class. By April, we will CCCP grant. have graduated 300 students and reached our grant goals. There is ECC, along with the other seven such a demand for the program that NJ community colleges, was there is a waiting list; unfortunately, well positioned to take on the our grant money will have expired, challenge and hasn’t looked back. It developed and implemented a Continued on page 16 Healthcare IT Professional Certificate

Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

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Continued from page 15 so we continue to look for alternate funding.” “The ECC program is successful for many reasons,” states Program Specialist, Tamalois Axt, “The dedicated teaching and administrative staff as well as motivated students top the list.” ECC recruited health care IT professionals to teach talented students who have been laid off due to downsizing, want to enhance their skills, or seek a new career. Regina Johnson-Matos is an example of one of the dedicated professionals teaching in the Healthcare IT Certificate program at ECC. By day, Matos is a system analyst at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). She notes, “I love so many aspects of this program. First, teaching is a passion of mine. Second, there is a health IT buzz in the market place so I know these students have an opportunity for skilled jobs. Last, but certainly not least, is the motivation of my students. Some of them are transitioning to a new career, have been laid off, or are upgrading their skills. Whatever the reason, these students are here to learn and succeed.”

encouraged me to apply for the program analyst position at UMDNJ. I am grateful to her and ECC for the valuable experience.” Each student in the program has personal reasons for the taking advantage of this training opportunity as well as a unique story about his or her decision to delve into health IT. Joi Akin, a former Johnson & Johnson IT employee, shares her experience. “I was unemployed after 20 years at J&J, so I attended a networking forum at my church and learned about the program. The enrollment process was easy, the ECC staff was very professional, and my professors assisted me in finding an internship at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson.

Take Calistus Abara, a former student of Matos, presently working as a program analyst at UMDNJ: “I decided to attend an open house information session to see what the ECC Healthcare IT Certificate program offered. It offered the entire package within a reasonable timeframe. It demonstrated the importance of integrating IT into the health care industry, the importance of documentation and information security, and prepared me for the workplace. Moreover, Ms. Matos

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...There are job opportunities in this field, which is a win-win for all.

One of the organizations that is a staunch supporter of ECC as well as the Community College Consortia, is the New Jersey Health Information Technology Extension Center (NJHITEC), also established through the ONC as part of the 2009 ARRA. NJHITEC’s mission is to assist primary care providers become Meaningful Users of electronic health record (EHR) systems. These providers become the future employers of the graduates of the health IT programs. NJ-HITEC’s Executive Director, Bill O’Byrne, adds, “The Community College Consortia is vital in the evolution of health IT. It trains the local work force, who is essential in the implementation and effective utilization of this technology. We continue to take advantage of these skilled workers graduating from the community college programs by hiring them at NJHITEC. These professionals are well trained and prepared from day one. Moreover, there are job opportunities in this field which is a win-win for all.”

NJ-HITEC’s Executive Director, Bill O’Byrne

I am presently a systems analyst for clinical nursing at Atlantic Health System in Morristown. I love my job and continue to use the information that I learned at ECC.” It’s clear that ECC’s commitment to its students doesn’t end at graduation. In actuality, its support services for students begin upon acceptance to the program. ECC HIT Program Manager, Denise Brooks, explains, “We have an 84 percent retention rate in this program supporting the fact that our students are motivated. They also hear from experts in the field via our guest lecturers. We help them develop their resumes and prepare them for job interviews. We assist in placing them in internships; a requirement in the consultant and trainer tracks of the program.”

Kirkland couldn’t agree more, “We work very closely with NJHITEC. They are leading the health IT evolution in New Jersey as the only federally designated Regional Extension Center (REC). We welcome their staff as guest lecturers and work closely to ensure that we are all in sync in preparing the health IT work force to benefit from the health IT movement to improve the quality of health care across the state of New Jersey.” For more information about the ECC Healthcare IT Certificate program visit ECC Continuing Education HIT or call HIT Program Manager, Denise Brooks, at 973877-3527. For more information about NJ-HITEC, visit the NJ-HITEC web site, call 973-642-4055, or email

Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

New Jersey Society of Plastic Surgeons Elects New President

Valerie J. Ablaza, MD, F.A.C.S. President, New Jersey Society of Plastic Surgeons By Beverly Lynch, Executive Director, NJSPS


he New Jersey Society of Plastic Surgeons (NJSPS), representing 250 board certified plastic Surgeons across the Garden State, has recently elected a new president – Dr. Valerie J. Ablaza. Dr. Ablaza takes over the helm of NJSPS at a time when advocacy and involvement at the Statehouse is paramount. “We are actively engaged with the Medical Society of New Jersey, and other specialty organizations, on issues surrounding the licensure of ambulatory surgery centers, ensuring that patient safety standards are the highest in the nation – regardless

of where the surgery is performed,” said Dr. Ablaza.

surgery center licensure, and PIP regulations.

“NJSPS led the effort to secure passage of important legislation that rolled back the onerous tax on cosmetic medical procedures, which simply drove our patients out of the State into neighboring states, and discriminated unfairly against women.”

"Only one out of ten plastic surgeons are women like myself. I know that my perspective and sensitivities are different than my colleagues. Not surprisingly, there are things that my female patients will tell me that they would never tell a man, especially about their bodies. But surprisingly, many men also prefer the insight and perspective a female surgeon provides.”

“I have seen firsthand the problems with enacting this tax – and have spoken about it to national organizations, including legislative groups who are contemplating a similar tax. We are proud of the New Jersey Legislature and Governor Christie for its recognition of this failed tax, and having the courage to roll it back.” The New Jersey Society of Plastic Surgeons provides quality medical education to its members, as well as regular communication on New Jersey happenings. Its Annual Meeting (held in April in Princeton, NJ) brings together over 150 physicians for a full CME program, featuring internationally recognized speakers. The NJSPS website ( has been revamped to provide up to date reports and timely notifications. NJSPS established a political action committee – PLASTIC SURGERY PAC – which has, in just three short years, become one of the strongest medical specialty PACs in the State. The recent NJSPS Advocacy agenda includes involvement with the Truth in Advertising legislation, out of network legislation, ambulatory

___________________ Dr. Valerie J. Ablaza is a partner and the Corporate Vice President of The Plastic Surgery Group, in Montclair, NJ. She is unique in her profession, noting that just one out of 10 plastic surgeons are women. She is board certified by The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and is a Fellow of The American College of Surgeons. She is also a member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Phi Beta Kappa and the Alpha Epsilon Delta honor society. She received her medical degree from The Medical College of Pennsylvania, completed her residency in plastic surgery at The New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center, and finished her training with a fellowship in breast and aesthetic surgery in Nashville, Tennessee, with the internationally renowned plastic surgeon G. Patrick Maxwell. Dr. Ablaza has frequently been quoted on internet websites

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Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

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She has been featured on CN8 One on One with Steve Adubato and Real Life with Mary Amoroso.

refreshing alternative to the extreme makeover concept. She was also a guest author of "Fifty Things To Do When You Turn Fifty", a book about self-help and personal growth. She has had numerous articles published in medical journals, written chapters for plastic surgery and orthopedic textbooks.

has also donated her time and expertise to Healing the Children, an international charity that provides reconstructive surgery to children from low-income communities and third-world countries and Iraq Star Inc., a foundation dedicated to providing reconstructive surgery to returning Iraq War Veterans.

Dr. Ablaza co-authored “Beauty in Balance; A Common Sense Approach to Cosmetic Surgery and Treatments,” which offers a

Dr. Valerie Ablaza has been an active participant with leadership roles in plastic surgical societies on the state and local level. She

For more information on NJSPS, please contact Beverly Lynch, Executive Director, at 609-3927553.

including,, Your Cancer, and

MSNJ Docs in the News Is there an MSNJ member physician you’d like to see recognized? E-mail with the information and look for the mention in the next edition of Physician Advocate.

Rafael Attiya, MD, of Cape May Court

House, NJ, recently received a three-year appointment as Cancer Liaison Physician for the cancer program at Cape Regional Medical Center. Cancer Liaison Physicians are an integral part of cancer programs accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC). Dr. Attiya is among a national network of over 1,500 volunteer physicians who are responsible for providing leadership and direction to establish, maintain, and support their facilities' cancer program. Dr. Attiya, who has a significant interest in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with malignant diseases, is a member of the multidisciplinary cancer committee at Cape Regional Medical Center, an institution which is dedicated to facilitating the delivery of comprehensive quality cancer care. For more information on the Cancer Liaison Program and the Commission on Cancer, contact the Commission on Cancer

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Lourdes Health Foundation has chosen recently retired, long-time Lourdes family physician, Edwin Messey, M.D., as one of the two recipients of its 2012 Healing Spirit Awards. The annual award honors a Lourdes physician for his or her compassion, dedication to patients and years of service. For more than five decades, Dr. Messey served his patients out of his Willingboro home office. Over that time he cared for four generations of families and, in many cases, was the only doctor his patients ever knew. Dr. Messey is a past president of the Burlington County Medical Society and has held several posts, including chairman of the Judicial Council. Dr. Messey even hosted a society-sponsored radio talk show called, "Ask Your Doctor" for two years. As a member of the Medical Society of New Jersey, Dr. Messey serves on the Bioethics Committee, and Constitution and By-Laws Committee. He served for nine years on its Board of Trustees and chaired the Committee on Medical Education.

Medical Society of New Jersey’s Physician Advocate Magazine

Inaction vs IN ACTION We understand the difference The Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and the State Medical Societies fights to protect doctors and uphold the highest standards of patient care. In courtrooms across America, we are achieving legal victories that preserve the rights of physicians, promote public health and protect the integrity of the profession. Whether we are challenging managed care organizations’ payment practices or preserving the autonomy of the hospital medical staff, one thing remains constant: The Litigation Center is an active force fighting for physicians’ rights. Learn more on how The Litigation Center can help you: Membership in the American Medical Association and the Medical Society of New Jersey makes the work of The Litigation Center possible. Join or renew your memberships today.

The Litigation Center is proud to have Lawrence Downs, Medical Society of New Jersey CEO, serve on its executive committee.

Spring 2012  
Spring 2012  

Spring 2012 Physician Advocate