By Boris Vilic
The Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP) hosted on Sunday its first virtual Town Hall to help educate and answer any questions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The successful program gathered prominent Croatian physicians and scientists from around the world and drew almost 100 participants.
The panel presentations focused on experiences by physicians in various medical specialties and settings. Dr. Nataša Janičić-Kahrić, an endocrinologist at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington DC, discussed how telemedicine is increasingly used for patient care, while Dr. Katherine Vlasica, an emergency medicine physician in New Jersey, offered a range of best practices for physicians and hospitals to consider during pandemics.
This included advice on how to reduce visits to the ER by the “worried well”, using caution in selection bias with atypical COVID-19 presentations, cohorting of medical providers by using student dorm or hotel housing to limit community spread among their family members, as well as using volunteers among medical students to provide childcare for families where both parents are healthcare providers. Dr. Goran Krstačić, from the Institute for Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation in Zagreb, also discussed how the recent devastating earthquakes impacted his center, noting that they continue to provide a high level of medical care despite not having access to heat and warm water due to damages.
The Town Hall also featured a presentation by Dr. Josip Car, a leading public health expert who is currently based in Singapore. Dr. Car discussed how Singapore, a country that is considered among the best in its response to COVID-19, had learned from the SARS outbreak 17 years ago. “SARS has really impacted Singapore badly, and in particular economically, and Singapore has since then been preparing at every level for the next pandemic: from legislation, to preparing schools to transition to eLearning, to business continuity planning. The name of the game was: prepare, prepare, prepare.” Recent initiatives include the initiative Clean Singapore, which focused on cleanliness of all public spaces, as well as education efforts to raise pandemic preparedness.
Since ACAP’s mission includes fostering knowledge-sharing and networking among Croatian-American professionals and Croatian professionals around the world, the virtual meeting is the Association’s response when its members cannot meet in person due to the pandemic. “Our goal is to continue to connect our members and engage them in conversations about issues of importance to them. We will continue to offer Town Halls as a way to promote knowledge exchange and to facilitate best practice sharing among our members,” said Dr. Steven Pavletić, the panel moderator and ACAP’s Vice President.
ACAP’s first Town Hall was organized by the association’s Medicine and Health Sciences section, who remains in close contact with hospitals and the Ministry of Health in Croatia. The ACAP Foundation works on raising funds to provide relief for the hospitals damaged by the recent earthquake.