President's message on COVID-19 and Sleep DownUnder

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President's message on COVID-19 and Sleep DownUnder

16 April 2020

These are challenging and difficult times for all of us working in the area of sleep in the setting of COVID-19. At this time it is even more important to work together as a community to support each other and navigate our way through these difficult times.

I wanted to take this opportunity to give you an update from the ASA on two items - clinical services and plans for our conference.

From the clinical perspective, we have been working hard and produced consensus guidelines to minimise infection risk for COVID-19 including for lab-based sleep studies. We believe that safety is paramount for patients and healthcare workers. We have also contributed to the national clinical evidence taskforce guidelines on the management of COVID-19. If you would like to view these documents, they are available on the resources section of our website. 

We have also met with the Department of Health and confirmed that level 2 home sleep studies (item 12250) can be set up by video or remote, as has always been the case, which avoids face to face contact in the current COVID environment. We are also in the process of applying for a temporary item number for limited-channel home sleep studies to further minimise face to face contact. I would like to acknowledge the hard work of many, in particular our Clinical Chair, Sutapa Mukherjee, on all of these initiatives.

The ASA Board has also been carefully considering the options for our annual scientific meeting Sleep DownUnder. 

We’ve decided that we can’t run Sleep DownUnder as usual this year, and we’ve postponed our meeting in Brisbane to 10-13 October 2021. 

The decision to postpone our face-to-face conference was not an easy one, and it will have some significant financial implications for our association. However, the risks of going ahead were too great from both a public safety and financial perspective. 

But I’m confident we can continue to provide high quality education and networking opportunities for all our members throughout this year, so please plan to support these activities as they become available.

Soon we’ll start giving you options to continue your professional development online during the rest of this year, and hopefully some special events during the week we had intended to join together for Sleep DownUnder at the end of October 2020. 

If you have any great ideas for education topics or speakers for this year, please get in touch with the ASA office.

Can I take this opportunity to thank all of our members and office staff for their support. Many have worked hard to guide our association through these difficult times and I am very grateful for their contribution.  

Finally, stay healthy and safe, care for those around you, and let them care for you in return. Despite the uncertainties that surround us, the ASA will continue to support our field and all those within it.

Alan Young
President