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Putting together the pieces of the cardiology ‘jigsaw’

Irish Cardiac Society, 71st Annual Scientific Meeting, 1-3 October 2020

Closing the 2020 meeting, outgoing ICS President Prof Jim Crowley told the attendees: “It has been both an honour and a privilege to serve my term as President of the ICS. This last year has been unprecedented because of the pandemic and has brought a lot of challenges to the Society, but I think the Society has performed an important role in helping both my colleagues as consultants, and also the trainees in responding to the pandemic. The Society has helped in continuing to highlight the cardiology needs of society in general and I hope this is going to be a continuing role for the Society in years to come.”

Prof Crowley continued: “We remain committed to supporting members and expanding our work and my sincere thanks goes to every member of the board, and indeed many of my colleagues over the past two years, for giving their support, engagement and free time to this organisation. It is now my great pleasure to hand over to Prof Vincent Maher, who will guide the Society for the next two years until 2022.”

Prof Maher closed-out the meeting by expressing his hopes for the immediate future of the Society and he paid tribute to the outgoing President and council, also revealing the incoming members who will serve on it for the next two years. “This is a great honour,” said Prof Maher. “I’m really feeling privileged to be the President of this wonderful Society and I feel like I am standing on the shoulders of giants… these are very challenging times and I am so proud of everyone’s work in producing this great conference.”

Benefits and drawbacks

Prof Maher also touched on the drawbacks and benefits of having this year’s meeting on a virtual basis. “While we miss our social interactions, there have been many advantages from having the virtual events and hopefully, this time next year we may have a combination of that, or at least get back to some of the previous interactions we had,” he said.

Describing Prof Crowley as a “wonderful leader”, Prof Maher said: “These are unprecedented times and you, together with [Prof] Albert [McNeill] and [Prof] Ken [McDonald], brought us the Mayo Clinic experience [joint conference], you also improved our financial regulation, brought us towards full charitable status – and I am delighted that you will still be on the council to help us complete that – and you have given us a new website, so you will be a very tough act to follow.”

Prof Maher also paid tribute to Ms Barbra Dalton, Executive Administrator for the ICS and organiser of the conference: “Barbra has been such a special person for the Society,” he said. “Without your energy, enthusiasm and work ethic, we would not be as good as we are. You have worked tirelessly for the smooth running, growth and development of our Society, and for the trainees you have been like a family member.”

Reaching out to the Diaspora will enhance our knowledge, help research collaboration and increase opportunities for our trainees

He also paid tribute to the work of Prof Aaron Peace and Dr Lana Dixon while they served as council members and he welcomed the new members, who include Prof Crowley; Secretary Prof Brendan McAdam; Treasurer Dr Carl Vaughan; Dr Patricia Campbell, Assistant Secretary; Dr Angie Brown, Irish Heart Foundation representative; Dr Ross Murphy and Dr Briain MacNeill as NSD representatives; and he also warmly welcomed council members Dr Deirdre Ward, Dr Christine Hughes, Mr Alastair Graham, Dr Stephen O’Connor, and Dr Peter McKavanagh. “I am honoured to work with such a strong committee,” said Prof Maher.

‘Great picture’

Referring to this year’s lockdown, Prof Maher said one of the activities he and his family used to pass the time included completing jigsaw puzzles. “In a jigsaw, every piece has a different shape, size, and image, but when you put them all together, you get a great picture.

“Likewise, in cardiology, whether you are responsible for ensuring the quality of a diagnostic test, making a complex management decision, guiding a patient through self-directed treatment adjustment, performing a skilled, complex intervention or operation, or advising on the latest therapeutic or device – everybody is part of this cardiovascular health initiative. As with a jigsaw, every piece counts and every person is needed.”
Prof Maher said he hoped the new ICS website and new enhanced connectivity would help to connect all of Ireland’s cardiovascular talent, both at home and abroad. “Reaching out to the Diaspora will enhance our knowledge, help research collaboration and increase opportunities for our trainees.”

Prof Maher added: “We are all aware that cardiological disease processes progress for years before their final complications. Understanding, for example, how valves thicken, hearts stiffen, conduction systems weaken, and atherosclerosis progresses – the more we understand and the more we can intervene and delay these processes, the more we may even reverse the disease in some instances. I hope someday we may have a symposium to address these issues.”

Finally, Prof Mahon acknowledged the role of industry in the conference, “without whom we would not be able to do this… and I hope that we will enjoy better times in the future to interact.”

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