CHICAGO, Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- In the days following Hurricane Katrina, anesthesiologists from all over the country rushed to ask the same questions. They wanted to know how they could help as physicians, and how they could donate to relief efforts on behalf of their profession. "The outpouring of concern by our members has been amazing," said Eugene P. Sinclair, M.D., president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). "Instead of worrying about what would become of our annual meeting in a few weeks, they were much more concerned about providing assistance to those in dire straits in the Gulf region." ASA's annual meeting, planned for an estimated 16,000 attendees in New Orleans on Oct. 22-26, was displaced by the disaster. ASA has appointed an ad hoc task force to establish connections with members in the stricken states to assess short- and long-term needs of the affected population, the physicians and the hospitals. This task force will share information with members about volunteer or charitable opportunities in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, ASA has been publicizing volunteer opportunities available through other national organizations since the first days of the tragedy. Many ASA members have been involved in treating and helping victims in the first hours, days and weeks after the disaster struck. Some of their accounts from the field can be read on ASA's Web site at http://www.asahq.org/news/katrinaresources.htm. To help its members provide monetary relief to those affected by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, ASA has established a special fund to which its members can donate. Donors can designate their contributions to go to national relief organizations, or specify that their donation go to discretionary projects to help colleagues, health care facilities or people who have suffered losses from this disaster. The Anesthesia Foundation-ASA Disaster Relief Fund has been kicked off with $30,000 that was donated by ASA members in honor of the society's 100th anniversary. Funds also will be added that would have been spent on social events at the group's annual meeting, and additional sponsors and donors are being sought. ASA has relocated its annual meeting to Atlanta next month. ASA officers decided to cancel or postpone all social events related to this year's meeting out of respect for the suffering of the hurricane victims, and will focus the society's resources only on the scientific, educational and business portions of the meeting. The Centennial Gala, which was originally planned for New Orleans to commemorate the founding of the society in October 1905, has been postponed until next year. Numerous anesthesiology residents have been displaced from their programs in the affected regions, and other programs have offered to take them in. A portion of the proceeds from the Anesthesia Foundation-ASA Disaster Relief Fund will go to provide grants for anesthesiology residents who have suffered from this disaster to help them continue their training. Other potential uses for the funds are to help hospitals and clinics in affected areas to repair or restock their facilities, and to help defray other costs of providing care to people in need. Donors who are not members of ASA are welcome to contribute to the fund at https://www2.asahq.org/donations/web/ or by sending a check made out to AF-ASA Disaster Relief Fund to: American Society of Anesthesiologists, 520 N. Northwest Highway, Park Ridge, IL, 60068-2573.
SOURCE American Society of Anesthesiologists