News From CHEST

Catching Up With Our Past CHEST Presidents


 

Where are they now? What have they been up to? CHEST’s Past Presidents each forged the way for the many successes of the American College of Chest Physicians, leading to enhanced patient care around the globe. Their outstanding leadership and vision are evidenced today in many of CHEST’s strategic initiatives. Let’s check in with Dr. D. Robert McCaffree, Master FCCP.

D. Robert McCaffree, MD, MSHA, Master FCCP

CHEST President 1997 - 1998

I received the chain of office (yes, there is an actual chain) from Dr. Bart Chernow in New Orleans during CHEST 1997. I remember this time as being a time of beginnings, challenges, and changes. Bart had been the stimulus for the CHEST Foundation and the form and function of this foundation was being developed. The women’s caucus (probably not the official name) was becoming more organized and more of a force under the leadership of Dr. Diane Stover and Dr. Deborah Shure and others, and the Woman, Girls, Tobacco, and Lung Cancer educational program was being refined. It was this program that got my wife, Mary Anne, involved with the CHEST, and she became a Fellow (FCCP). The American College of Chest Physicians was in the midst of the national tobacco settlement efforts at this time. Our involvement began when Mike Moore, Attorney-General of Mississippi, filed the first suit against the tobacco industry in 1994. Under the stimulus of Dr. John Studdard, our current President, the college was the only medical organization to file an amicus curiae brief supporting this, thus thrusting us into the midst of the tobacco settlement debates and in a leadership position. During the time I was President-elect and President, I was fortunate to represent us both in the ENACT Coalition (composed of national health groups, such as the American Cancer Society), as well as on the Koop-Kessler Congressional Advisory Committee. I also testified before Congress on the tobacco issues and met at the White House with DHHS Secretary Donna Shalala. On a different front, our international activities were not as developed as now, but we did make two memorable trips to India. Many thanks to Dr. Kay Guntupalli for helping make those trips so memorable. After this absolutely wonderful year, I passed the chain to Dr. Allen Goldberg in Toronto.

Dr. Mary Anne McCaffree and Dr. D. Robert McCaffree

Dr. Mary Anne McCaffree and Dr. D. Robert McCaffree

My experiences with tobacco control continue to influence my life. After the national tobacco settlement failed, there was enacted the multistate tobacco settlement. Oklahoma was the only state to place the majority of those settlement dollars into a constitutionally protected trust fund, the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund (TSET). I was fortunate to be appointed to the Board of Directors of TSET by our Attorney General and was elected the first chair. Since then, the corpus has grown to over one billion dollars, and TSET has been able to effect many positive changes toward helping tobacco control in Oklahoma. One of these was to fund the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center (OTRC) as part of the Stephenson Cancer Center at Oklahoma University. I stepped off the TSET Board to join Dr. Laura Beebe in this endeavor, which started with two people and one office and has now grown to occupy over 15,000 square feet with nine faculty and several postdoctoral students.

Among other activities, I was Chief of Staff at the Oklahoma City VAMC for 18 years, retiring from that position in 2009. I was honored by having the MICU at the VA named after me. In the community, I helped start the Hospice of Oklahoma County and then the Hospice Foundation of Oklahoma, both of which I served as first chairman. I also helped start Palliative Care Week on the OUHSC campus. I am currently the vice-chair of the Health Alliance for the Uninsured in Oklahoma City, which helps support the many free clinics in our city. My wonderful wife, Mary Anne, is also involved in many community activities. On a personal level, we try to see our two children and two grandchildren as often as possible, which is not often enough. My free time activities include reading, playing the piano, fly fishing (not often enough), and exercise.

My time as President of the American College of Chest Physicians was one of the best and most important experiences of my life. My memories of working with Al Lever, David Eubanks, Marilyn Lederer, Lynne Marcus, Steve Welch, and all the other administrative and physician leaders during that time remain very dear to me. The influence of CHEST continues to this very day. I can never repay all that I have gained from this experience. I wish I had the space allowance to expand on my experiences. But while my word allowance is limited, my gratitude is unlimited.

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