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Tony West
AVA Conference, Day 1

Well my friends. Here we are again. And in case you don’t know where here is let me explain. It has become a tradition that I write a daily blog of sorts from the AVA annual conference. I do this to share with those that are unable to attend. I hope to give you a sense of what is happening at the meetings. I certainly can not cover everything and it is reported through my eyes and represents my opinion. Please forgive me for any omissions or errors. I can not be everywhere and see everything and I certainly have memory lapses. Since after the conference, when I can finally sleep, I do try to clean this up and consolidate all the days into a single article for E-VAN, please let me know if I goofed somewhere. After re-reading the last sentence I want to make it clear I don’t write in my sleep, LOL. So for your reading…pleasure?

First yesterday I was not present for the pre-conference events but they enjoyed record breaking attendance. As many of you know there was so much demand they expanded the offerings to accommodate all the attendees. I have not heard much in the way of particulars but I heard of no negative experiences either.

The start of my trip here was a bit bumpy. I finished work at home about 16:00. I had not started to pack yet. At 16:10 my loving, understanding, beautiful redheaded wife got home to take me to the airport. You should have seen that “you mean you’re not packed yet” look. Being the wonder she is, she simply said “what can I do.” By 16:25 we were out the door. I only managed to forget a light coat (one of the specific recommendations I made to first timers in my last article in E-VAN) and my E-VAN button. Not bad, LOL.

I did arrive in Phoenix last night. I had to pick up the mini van and grab 5 other co-workers arriving on 3 other flights in 2 different terminals over the course of a couple hours. Well let me tell you this airport is a bit bewildering at first but after your first 10 go around and around and around, you get the lay out down. Hot is the functional word here but being a very dry heat it is pretty easy to take. The convention center and hotels were a short and easy drive. With the time zone thing working in my favor, I got to bed late (and still a bit dizzy), but in time to get a decent night of sleep.

Today started early, as it always does, with a continental breakfast sponsored by Angio Dynamics. After a lot of running around saying hi and hugging ole friends we shuffled off to the conference room for the welcome address. Kathy McHugh made the introductions and announcements and got us underway.

Kathy reported record breaking attendance which included more first time attendees than ever before. As usual there are a number of countries, outside of the USA, represented. Really cool, this year, were regional and world maps that invited everyone to place a push pin in at the location of their home. I got to greet a group of Chinese speaking attendees in Chinese. They answered me in English which is good because “how are you doing” is about the extent of my Mandrin.

Kathy took time out from all the introductions and hoorah about our growth and good fortune to ask for an extended moment of silence to remember two very dear friends to this organization that have recently past. Most of the readers will immediately identify Darnell Roth as one. If you do not know about Darnell or her many years of service to our organization and profession, you can find out more in wonderful write ups, by Karen Hawkins, in the August-September issue of E-VAN. From the AVA web page click “Publications” then “E-VAN.”

The one you may not be aware of is Dr. Schelper, he was a pathologist by trade but also a wonderful person. He supported AVA with all his heart and soul. His presentations were always enlightening and showed us what effects our actions were having on a cellular level. His last presentation at a conference brought tears to my eyes as he tearfully told us that would be his last time with us and that we should keep doing what we do because “you do make a difference.” He will be missed.

Next we were treated to the keynote presentation, Lessons from the Flight Deck. And what a treat it was. I must say that this was the best keynote I can ever recall. It got us in a good mood and injected us with enthusiasm while providing information that was directly relevant to our jobs. All of our jobs regardless of the type of facility or area you work in. A wonderful presentation and much talked about throughout the day.

A tough act to follow but Dr Markewitz did a fine job with Central Venous Catheters: Clots Not Infection May Be the Problem. The doctor offered us a new look at some data and some food for thought.

Then we had a free lunch, um I mean the Town Hall Meeting. This was a major departure from tradition. Normally the Town Hall Meeting was held at the end of the last day. Kathy McHugh felt that this excluded many members because often they were already on their way to the airport to scatter to the four winds. This provided a prime time slot and it worked. Town hall was very well attended. All reports about the health and welfare of AVA were good.

There was a lengthy discussion about the recent changes in the operating structure that lead to the resignation of Mary Lee Nations, our executive director. Her departure, quite frankly, has caused a considerable amount of rumors and back alley discussions. While not everyone will totally agree with what happened or possibly how it came about, I firmly believe that everyone’s’ motives are good. We are all committed to AVA and AVA is strong and growing, much like the weeds in my yard. We may not always agree with the management styles or methodology but we are all headed in the same direction. It was the decision of our elected board to take these actions and not a single person or small group. Later in the day I got an overwhelming feeling that members and vendors felt that we are headed in the right direction. That the new emphasis toward getting the strategic plan back on track and on time and placing an emphasis on aligning AVA with the medical community as a whole was appropriate, perhaps even healthy if not over due. So lets go!

The breakout sessions offered in the afternoon represented a broad cross section of special interests and subspecialties. I would like to say I attended them all but that would be a lie, but to say I wish I could have would not. My company has six nurses here and as a group we did cover many of them. I heard they were all wonderful with great speakers.

Then finally one of my most favorite parts of the conference. The Exhibit Hall opened. This first day included a Welcome Reception (more food) generously provided by RyMed. They had the healthy veggies (of which I passed right by) and then they had those really weird things we have seen another conference where you get a champagne glass and put mashed potatoes and meats and sauteed veggies and gravy and such in it. Feels weird to be eating out of a champagne glass but I think it makes it taste better. Kinda like breading and rectangles made fish better as a kid. And just in case you didn’t get enough to eat or were to busy to make it to one of the two serving lines, there were servers wandering the exhibit hall with trays of hors d’oeuvres.

Now down to business. The exhibit hall was full of goodies. As always the vendors have brought out their best. Since I have to stop and talk to everyone there is no way I am even close to seeing it all in the short 2.5 hours. But so far my personal pick for coolest new thing is an MST needle, guidewire, dilator and sheath all in one piece. It is not available yet but if it works as promised it could be a very cool thing. I can not wait for tomorrow to resume my quest.

I did also take time to make a preliminary pass through the posters. What a great assortment of really interesting stuff. You don’t have t be a big fancy medical center with tons of bucks to do a really meaningful piece here. Kudos to all who made the effort to share their successes with us.

Then as if RyMed had not done enough to increase my abdominal girth, they sponsored a Desert (as in more food, not more sand) symposium, BioFilm: Adhesion, Development and Colonization in Medical Devices. Roll me home in a wheel barrel good food. Some one told me it was all low calorie. I think they were stretching the truth way beyond a little.

Oh but did I mention the presentation? Yes Guy Cook discussed biofilm in depth. If you are not familiar with the role biofilm plays in the colonization of devices with the potential for subsequent sepsis, you should be seeking out this information. This process and associated concepts are applicable across the board to all setting and all types of devices. We can not even begin to look at or for new or novel ways to prevent CRBSIs without understanding this initial step in the process. 

So then finally I had to find my way back to my car, a car I had never seen and didn’t park. There is a whole story in that which I shall spare you. And off to my hotel to sit down here and bang out this blog for you. I hope you enjoyed it and I will see you tomorrow.

Tony West, RN, CRNI
Healix Infusion Services