Rish gives first talk as head of state medical association

Health StockBy Michaela Gibson Morris
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo pulmonologist Dr. James Rish has a full slate for his year as the president of the Mississippi State Medical Association.

“We can’t take our eye off the ball,” Rish told the members of the Northeast Mississippi Medical Society on Thursday in his first public address since his installation as association president in mid-August.

It’s important that insurance reforms help physicians deliver better care for patients and reflect evidence-based guidelines, Rish said. Reimbursements that don’t cover the cost of providing care or disallow standard tests and procedures ultimately reduce patient access to care.

“We need to have a voice in those rules and regulations,” Rish said.

Beyond health care reform, Rish would like to see the medical association continue the push for smoke-free public spaces on the state level.

“It’s obviously been successful at the municipal level,” Rish said, including in towns like Tupelo, where indoor smoking is not allowed in restaurants, bars or workplaces. “I think we need to pursue a referendum on smoke-free air.”

Another priority is to create the legal framework for seriously ill patients to work through end-of-life issues. Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Therapy cover issues like use of mechanical ventilators, feeding tubes and chest compressions.

“They’re portable and actionable,” Rish said. “It will go a step beyond advance directives which tend to get forgotten or ignored in the heat of the moment.”

Rish is the first state medical association president from Tupelo since Dr. L.C. Feemster served nearly 100 years ago.

“I couldn’t have gotten where I am without your solid backing,” he told the Northeast Mississippi Medical Society members.

michaela.morris@journalinc.com