Last summer, I received an email from Dr. Jay Berkelhamer (APA President, 1986-87). Dr. Berkelhamer informed me he had a stack of newsletters that he hoped could be housed and archived in our APA office at Degnon Associates. When we talked by phone a couple weeks later, Dr. Berkelhamer shared fond memories of the APA (which many of you know was called the Ambulatory Pediatric Association up until 2007). Dr. Berkelhamer told me stories of his time on the executive council, and the lively discussions he and his colleagues had during annual business meetings. Soon after our call, he sent me a box of newsletters from the 1970s-90s. I have truly enjoyed reading board reports and commentaries, some that reference our founder, Dr. Barbara Korsch, and others describing the work of early leaders like Dr. Katherine Lobach and Dr. Robert Haggerty. Some articles discuss the seminal research on the value of primary care, published by pioneers and APA leaders Dr. Barbara Starfield and Dr. Evan Charney. Articles from the early 1970’s discuss the establishment of a social-political committee, the need to build connections with the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the establishment of guidelines for ambulatory pediatrics fellowships, led by Dr. Margaret Heagarty (APA President, 1976-77). Dr. Heagarty recently passed away, as did another luminary, Dr. Stephen Berman. Dr. Heagarty served as the Director of Pediatrics at Columbia University’s Harlem Hospital Center and Dr. Berman, a global health and policy leader, spent his career at Children’s Hospital of Colorado. Please take a few minutes to read more about their lives and contributions to advancing child health: https://www.tributearchive.com/obituaries/26990310/dr-margaret-heagarty and https://feldmanmortuary.com/tribute/details/4628/Dr-Stephen-Berman/obituary.html.
We owe tremendous gratitude to these giants and to many others who selflessly gave their time, wisdom, energy, and support to this organization. If you have not yet viewed the APA Oral History Project led by Dr. Tina Cheng (APA President, 2008-9), please take some time to do so: https://www.academicpeds.org/about/ You will see several of these thought leaders among others. In Dr. Starfield’s interview, she spoke about hiring George and Marge Degnon during her tenure as President in 1980. As many of you know, George Degnon passed away a few months ago. As founder of Degnon Associates, our loyal and expert management company, George was a calm and guiding force for the APA: George K. Degnon Obituary – Visitation & Funeral Information (moneyandking.com). In the near future, we will share work of an important task force led by Dr. Jean Raphael (APA President-Elect) to recognize the legacies of individuals who have passed. I am very appreciative of this task force’s efforts to develop creative and impactful ways to honor and remember these individuals as well as many unsung APA heroes.
I am thankful to Dr. Berkelhamer for holding onto the newsletters from the early days of the APA, and for sharing them with us. We hope to digitize and place many of these treasured historical documents on our website in the near future.
I realize this is a very busy time of year. In addition to work and personal responsibilities, many of you are preparing for upcoming regional meetings. Enjoy the meetings and I hope to see you in Washington, DC for the PAS meeting in April!
Stay warm and take care of yourselves.
Barry Solomon, MD, MPH
Correction: Dr. Heagarty served as the Director of Pediatrics at Columbia University’s Harlem Hospital Center for 22 years, not Columbia as stated in an earlier version of this tribute.