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PANA Prepares for Annual Leadership Transition

Jodie Szlachta takes the gavel from Aaron Ostrowski

Current PANA President Jodie Szlachta takes the gavel from previous President Aaron Ostrowski.

With most residents gearing up for the Nov. 6 General Election, members of the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists are preparing for their own governmental transition.

PANA’s fall symposium is right around the corner, set for Oct. 19-21 at Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, Pa. The symposium marks the annual installation of a new association president.

Current PANA President Jodie Szlachta, Ph.D., MSN, CRNA, is wrapping up her year and getting ready to pass off the gavel to President-elect Derek Reckard, MSN, PHRN, CRNA.

Szlachta presided over one of the more significant legislative events to occur at the state Capitol in years for PANA and its members.

On April 18, the House Professional Licensure Committee convened a hearing on legislation (H.B. 789) that would mandate physician supervision of nurse anesthetists in Pennsylvania.

The “scope of practice” bill would have limited the practice of certified registered nurse anesthetists in Pennsylvania would put the state at odds with national trends to modernize health laws and ensure access to safe, affordable, quality care.

The bill was being pushed by its sponsor, Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver), who was not running for re-election but was seeking a legacy measure to close out his terms in office.

Szlachta testified on a panel with Dr. Juan F. Quintana, former president of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), and Dr. Pamela Wrobleski, president of BPW Medical Associates and PANA’s state reimbursement specialist.

The hearing made a difference. PANA’s effective testimony essentially neutralized the measure, which never received additional committee consideration and isn’t expected to move before the two-year legislative session ends in December.

This was a significant victory for PANA.

At the same time, PANA’s professional designation legislation (S.B. 274) sponsored by state Sen. John R. Gordner (R-Columbia) passed the Senate. The measure would formally recognize certified registered nurse anesthetists as “CRNAs” under Pennsylvania statute.

Although the pro-PANA measure did not receive a final vote in the House, its successful advancement in the Senate provided momentum going into the 2019-20 legislative session that starts in January.

Szlachta realizes that it’s still going to be difficult to get across the finish line, as it is with any policy in Harrisburg. Expect the anesthesiologists to find another House member to introduce a “scope of practice” bill in Christiana’s absence and continue to fight designation legislation.

That’s what makes PAC donations so important, as any CRNA who knows Szlachta has heard her say over and over again during her term and even before that as PAC committee chairwoman.

More and more CRNAs and SRNAs are getting engaged. That much is evident by the increasing number of professionals who attend Capitol Day in Harrisburg each year.

To be even more successful, PANA needs a strong PAC.

Your contributions enable the association to support elected officials and political candidates who share PANA’s views and philosophies. Your support also gives PANA access to regulators and lawmakers, ensuring they have the information they need to make the right decisions about legislation, rules and regulations, or program proposals that affect CRNAs like you.

You can celebrate Szlachta’s tenure and ensure Reckard’s term gets off to a solid start by donating to the PANA PAC by simply clicking HERE.

Derek Reckard

Before being named PANA president-elect, Reckard served as the association’s federal political director. He also is on PANA’s Governance Committee, which includes state government affairs.

Like Szlachta and other presidents before her, Reckard has been a tireless advocate for the profession and brings with him years of experience in government relations to advance PANA’s mission after he takes the reigns in October.

Look for more information about Reckard and a personal presidential message on after his installation.

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