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April 2012


From the Governors

Dr. Foody
Jim Foody, MD, FACP, ACP Governor, Illinois Northern

It is traditional that retiring Governors send a message at the end of their terms. Now it is my turn. I have sent dozens of electronic messages to ACP membership in the past four years. I have found it common for internists who meet me say that they recognize my name from their inboxes. But when I ask if they remember what I said, I have only received puzzled looks in response. It is OK to me; there will not be a quiz about this message.

The ACP is an amazing organization. There is so much I have learned about us in the past five years. I have not scratched the surface of taking advantage of all the products and services ACP provides. I rely heavily on publications such as Annals and ACP Journal Club. But there is much more to ACP than these. In this time of uncertainty in practicing and paying for medical care, ACP has towered above all other professional organizations in fighting successfully to be the voice of our patients. ACP has never tried to be a “trade association” for internists. Instead, it has been a staunch defender of patients. Moreover, ACP policy and advocacy are incomparable sources of information for us. I am immensely proud of participating in a little way with such a force for good in American medicine.

ACP is the home for all internists. Perhaps of all its characteristics, this is the single most important factor for me. We as internists belong to each other in service to our patients because that is what we do. The truth sounds trite. Patient care is about caring for patients. Everyone dies. (You can look it up.) Most people experience illness along the journey. We in medicine do not save lives. Our job is to care for others on their journey. We have a special set of skills and training so that we can provide unique caring for patients. With all the political, financial, and legal burdens in our world, it is possible to lose track of the only thing we have to contribute to the world. We care for patients.

There are many events that I will hold fondly in my heart. The excitement of Associates Day, managed so masterfully by Steve Potts, FACP, is an annual treasure. The response of almost everyone who advanced to Fellowship in the College underscored my appreciation for being a part of the remarkable core of internal medicine. The honored members who received well-earned national awards, facilitated under the leadership of Joan Mullan, FACP, as chair of the Awards Committee, are sources of pride in our profession. All of the awardees, and especially Joan, serve as role models for me. The outstanding work of young physicians and associates inspires. By naming only a few, I would miss highlighting many. But forgive me for any slights. I must particularly recognize the great work of Vinny Arora, FACP, our chapter rock-star, Valerie Press, and Jami Rothe Kunnican whose energy and dedication attracted new young members and created an environment that enhances their interactive network.

I especially salute the most honored chapter members who earned the title Master of the American College of Physicians during my term: Bob Bonow, Pat Fahey, David Greene, Holly Humphrey, Neil Stone, and Arnie Widen. It is a great privilege for me to have known and admired all of them for more years than any of us would admit. I will never forget the look in Arnie’s eyes the night of his induction. Without words, he taught me a lesson that I will always hold in my heart: what a great treasure we have as internists and as members of the College.

Finally, two staffers did all the hard work and saved me from flagrant insanity. Donna Seawards is executive director both for Northern and Downstate ACP. She has brought professionalism and organization to chapter management that we deserved and desperately needed. You seldom see Donna, but she is the infrastructure and talent that makes everything we do happen. I also am grateful for Lynn Fink, our chapter liaison from ACP national office. Lynn guided me with grace at all times, trying her best to keep me on track. Even in their 60s, I think men still harbor characteristics of Peter Pan. I certainly do. Donna and Lynn have shared the job of being Wendy to me.

Sara Rush, MACP, and Susan Hingle, FACP, my colleague Governors from Downstate, always motivated me to try harder by their example and great competence. That they are lovely people was an added advantage. Marie Brown, FACP, the first woman Governor of our chapter, believe it or not, brings energy and experience to chapter leadership. I am excited to be a member of the Northern Illinois chapter under Marie.

This final letter is not about me. It is about the great privilege we have as internists. It is about the vibrant home of internal medicine, ACP. It is about time for me to stop writing.

Thank you.
Jim

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Dr. Hingle
Susan Thompson Hingle, MD, FACP, ACP Governor, Illinois Downstate

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." (Dr. Seuss). This quote from “The Lorax” reminds me of what an incredible potential we have to make a difference – in our patients’ lives, with our learners, and in our communities. We are really quite fortunate to be physicians. I also feel very happy and encouraged to be involved with our great Illinois Downstate ACP Chapter. It’s been a great year, and I am optimistic that this next year will also be quite fruitful.

I’d like to highlight some of the achievements of our chapter from the past year:

  • Since July, we have 15 new ACP Fellows.
  • Robert Palinkas was awarded the ACP Laureate Award in Chicago in November.
  • John Rogers and the Council of Associates put on a wonderful ACP Associates Day in Peoria in November. The following awardees will represent our chapter at the national Internal Medicine 2012 meeting in New Orleans: Trinadha Pilla (1st place Quality Improvement Poster), Vijaya Ramalingam (1st place Clinical Vignette Poster), and the Doctor’s Dilemma Team from UIUC (Melanie Braganza, Suneel Kumar, and Vijaya Ramalingam).
  • The first ever ACP IL Downstate Chapter Outstanding Medical Student and Outstanding Resident Awards were given out to Suraj Arora, Thomas Kemmerly, Sudha Nagalingam, Jessica Sampias, Samit Shah, and Kavitha Subramoney.
  • Dr. Mudita Bhugra, a resident at SIU, was selected as the winner of the ACP National Associates Abstract Competition. She will be recognized at the Internal Medicine 2012 meeting in New Orleans for this accomplishment.
  • Our Council of Student Members and Council of Associates worked together to develop a mentorship program which pairs interested medical students with resident physicians in a mentoring relationship.
  • The Education Committee again put on a wonderful series of webinars called “After Hours with the ACP”. This series was recognized at IM 2011 with a John Tooker Evergreen Award.
  • Our IL Downstate Council of Young Physicians, led by Andy Arwari and Akshra Verma, implemented a new series of webinars focused on leadership development. These were so successful that the Pennsylvania Chapter is collaborating with us.
  • We were again awarded the ACP Chapter Excellence Award.
  • Gaurav Jain, one of our Associate members, was selected to serve on the ACP National Council of Associates.
  • Janet Jokela was elected to be the next ACP Governor of our chapter. She will assume this position in April 2013 and will serve as Governor-elect until then.
  • The following chapter members will join me in representing our chapter at ACP Leadership Day 2012 in Washington DC: Janet Jokela, Tiffany Malli, Vajeeha Tabassum, and Siegfried Yu.
  • Our Health and Public Policy Committee will work together with the Illinois Northern HPPC to enhance effectiveness and begin work at the state level.
  • We held a Strategic Planning Retreat in March and developed many new projects for the upcoming year, including forming a Community Outreach Subcommittee, expanding the delivery modes for our recertification modules, enhancing the Downstate Dialogue messages, collaborating with IL Northern of the CYP leadership development webinars, improving and standardizing the medical student Internal Medicine Interest Groups, developing a new series of webinars focusing on office based teamwork, and starting to work on a senior scholars series for the retired physicians of our chapter.

I am very proud of what we have accomplished together. One of my patients shared with me a fitting story. She had recently moved from South Carolina to Springfield so she could care for her elderly aunt who has severe dementia. She and her husband, while living in South Carolina, had saved for years towards their dream of owning a restaurant. They were all ready to open their restaurant. All that was needed was the final inspection by the Public Health Department. Overnight, their town was hit by an enormous hurricane. The town was devastated. The only two buildings left standing in town were the hardware store and their new restaurant. Unfortunately, they couldn’t officially open because they didn’t have the approval from the health department. Knowing the great need that existed, they decided to give away food for free. Word spread quickly. Community volunteers showed up in droves. People came from 60+ miles away to help out and to eat. Other nearby restaurants and grocery stores donated food and supplies. By nightfall, they had served over 5000 meals. My patient shared with me the great sense of community that developed in the midst of such overwhelming tragedy. We are fortunate to not have experienced any significant tragedies in our chapter over the past year, but I am proud of the great sense of community that exists and continues to grow within our chapter. You are all truly wonderful people, and I am grateful to have had the chance to get to know and work with many of you over the past several years. I am looking forward to my last year as your Governor with great anticipation. Thank you so much for the honor of serving you.

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From the Governor-elect

Dr. Brown
Marie Brown, MD, FACP, Governor-elect, Illinois Northern

Thank you for the tremendous honor of electing me to be your next Governor. The ACP has guided me throughout my entire career as a practicing internist and true to form, has provided a year of intense preparation as Governor-elect. My appreciation for the role of Governor and the excellent job Jim Foody has done grew over the course of the past year. Dr.Foody has provided the Chapter with superb leadership throughout his term. He has performed a thousand tasks, responded to every request by members to speak on varied topics and in varied places- at the Rosemont Horizen to thousands of attendees… to Grand Rounds at community hospitals… to a five person town hall on the south side of Chicago. His strong voice at the national ACP in Philadelphia and his altruistic message has been clear and consistent: patients first. He has reminded us of the need to serve and has been a strong advocate and selfless role model, volunteering at CommunityHealth with what little extra time he found. The best way to thank him is to continue the work he has so effectively begun.

In March of this year, Governors Jim Foody and Susan Hingle convened the first ever strategic planning retreat for the entire ACP Illinois Chapter, attended by over 20 council members. During those two days, your ACP state leadership identified priorities as well as the mechanisms to achieve them. The commitment of time and energy from the participants to your state ACP chapter was inspiring. The retreat resulted in a vision, an action plan, the will and the commitment to accomplish great things over the next four years and beyond. You will be hearing from Dr. Hingle at the national level as well as she has been elected to Chair of the entire Board of Governors.

As I begin my term as Governor, I reflect that there has not been a day since I became an internist that I did not look forward to seeing and caring for patients. It is a privilege to be a member of this most highly respected profession. The practice of medicine is about to go through a transformation over the next four years unlike any other that I or most of us have ever experienced. These changes are exciting, sometimes confusing and often overwhelming. The ACP has always been my trusted resource - to turn to for insight, information, and to guide me to best serve my patients. Never before have I relied on the ACP as I do now. What my practice will look like in four years, I do not know, but I trust that if I follow the guideposts the ACP provides, I will be more effective, provide greater access to more patients especially our most vulnerable and will accomplish this in a way in which I will be very proud. I hope to bring ACP resources to our members to accomplish our goals of caring for ALL people and maybe in the process bring more joy to our practices.

I am reminded of a quote by IW Surratt MD written about his fellow physicians in 1912. “Generosity he has, as a rule, in abundance ; discretion,tested by a thousand secrets; tact, tried in innumerable embarrassments, and above all, cheerfulness and courage sufficient for the world.

As I prepare to assume the Governorship following the Annual meeting this month in New Orleans, I am humbled as well as honored. I hope together with your support and participation we will continue to make our profession as fulfilling and meaningful as we know it to be.

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Internal Medicine 2012

Join us at the Illinois Chapter Reception immediately following Convocation, Thursday, April 19, from 8 – 10 pm at the New Orleans Marriott, La Galerie 3. Network with colleagues, celebrate with new Fellow and members, and honor Illinois award recipients. We will also say farewell to Jim Foody, outgoing Governor of Illinois Northern Region, and welcome Marie Brown, successor to Jim. Bring your families and enjoy the festivities!

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A (Not So Modest) Proposal

Lawrence Schouten, MD, FACP

I have the distinct honor of being a physician. As a primary care physician (or "provider"--life is too short to quibble about semantics*) I have a unique vantage point to gain insight into the human condition. I am humbled by the confidence my patients place in me and challenged every day to do to the best I can. I don't treat diseases; I treat patients--people with whom I have a personal relationship. When someone comes to our office, that person is not coming to a "clinic", but is coming to an office of caring professionals. My physician assistant, nursing staff, and office staff play an integral role--often more important than mine--in helping our patients in their pursuit of health. Yes, I am irked (to put it much too mildly) by insurance mandates, pre-authorization policies designed only to aggravate, and the seemingly unending paperwork; payment reform is long overdue. Most of our patients value the services we provide and are very grateful; yes, there are those patients who refuse recommendations, don't take their meds, demand unnecessary tests, or try to take advantage of every situation, but that comes with the territory. Like the sword of Damocles, liability concerns accompany every encounter, but I do not let that define me, or my approach to caring. I have been at this now for over 26 years; would I do it again? In a heartbeat! But this is not the point I want to make in this column.

I am privileged to work with so many outstanding surgical and specialty colleagues. I am awed by their mastery of their field, and (at least for most) their willingness to come to the emergency department at any time, day or night. I am inspired by their selfless commitment to the very sick and I probably take for granted the wealth of talent available to me in DuPage County. But this is not the point I want to make in this column.

Our hospitals in DuPage County are a treasure. One of our hospitals proudly, and justifiably, touts itself as a "top one hundred hospital". It is being modest! The Thomson Reuters study in which it is ranked actually lists five categories of hospitals. In its category of "large community hospitals" this hospital is actually in the top 20 nationwide--as are two other hospitals within our county! Just think about it, based on the Thomson Reuters criteria, we have three of the nation's top 20 large community hospitals within DuPage County. One of those hospitals is a Baldridge Award Winner! This is clearly a tribute to the exceptional nursing talent and world-class hospital management expertise within our midst. But this is not the point I want to make in this column.

We have so much to be proud of as we practice medicine in DuPage County. The point I do want to make in this column is that we need to do so much more. Our scorecards are incomplete. Technical expertise, patient safety, service, and financial viability are, of course, important. However the rising healthcare costs in our country are unsustainable. As reported by the American College of Physicians:

For a typical non-elderly American family of four, spending on health care –total out-of-pocket spending by the family plus employer payments on their behalf – was on average $15,600 in 2008. By 2017, medical spending by or on behalf of the typical family of four could rise to $33,700, consuming about 41 percent of the family’s gross wages before any deductions for taxes or other fringe benefits. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) projects that total US health care spending, already the highest in the world, will almost double over the next decade. Yet as much as $700 billion of health care spending per year, 5% of the nation’s GDP, is wasted on tests and procedures that do not improve health outcomes.-1

Our scorecards--whether it be for hospitals, large multispecialty groups, or small practices--must include stewardship; not only stewardship as it has traditionally been understood--lowering operational costs and appropriately investing income--but also stewardship in the appropriate and most effective use of healthcare resources.

We must deliver care that matters--matters to our patients and to our society. Our hospitals can remain viable and we physicians can earn a very good income by delivering such care. Unfortunately, more and more patients are becoming pawns--pawns in the game of generating revenue. Defending utilization decisions is a game easily played; it takes little imagination to rationalize the hospitalization of an ER patient, the ordering of expensive tests, imaging, or surgical procedures, extending a hospital stay, or prescribing the newest branded medication or chemotherapy. It is the mark of true professionalism to know when not to take such actions. (And, yes, there are countless forces pummeling those who dare to be professional.)

All countries are struggling with the cost of healthcare. Using 2007 data, on average per capita cost for healthcare in six OECD member countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom) was on average about $3,500. In the United States it was $7,500 for, at best, comparable quality-2. According to a new report by Milliman, a global consulting and actuarial firm, the total cost of healthcare for the average family of four, if covered by a preferred provider organization, is now a record $19,393-3. Our excessive healthcare spending is handcuffing United States businesses and crippling our economy. Currently 50% of healthcare expenses are paid by government (taxpayers) and the majority of the other 50% is paid for by business (employees). Healthcare resources are clearly not unlimited. The ongoing escalation of costs in our country is a classic example of the tragedy of the commons and cannot continue.

The time is now for our healthcare community to take ownership of this problem; we all must become accountable for the overall cost of healthcare to those we serve. If we are not a part of the solution, then we certainly are part of the problem. We must incorporate the overall cost of care in our own report cards. I propose that we, in DuPage County, become a champion in curtailing healthcare costs and become a benchmark for the rest of our country.

Massachusetts has been a fertile incubator for healthcare reform--good and bad. In 2010, the Attorney General's Office, in its report on healthcare costs and trends pointed out that price variations did not correlate with quality of care but were more closely correlated with market leverage. It found that the escalating cost of healthcare did not correlate with increased utilization but rather with increased prices--and that increased prices did not correlate with increased operating costs. (It also reported that PMPM costs did not correlate with methodology of payment--whether it be risk sharing or fee for service!) I ask you: as we consolidate healthcare in DuPage county, are we doing it so that we can raise prices, or are we striving to better coordinate services with a commitment to lower the overall cost of care to those we serve? Becoming the biggest, most powerful, or wealthiest entity might be a reasonable goal in industries attempting to capture discretionary dollars; however, in healthcare, it would seem that societal imperatives should trump greed. Yes we must compete; but let's compete on price and quality (true quality--outcomes and patient satisfaction--not self determined values obfuscated by rhetoric). Let's collaborate to make healthcare affordable for everyone in our county--and demonstrate to the rest of our country how it can be done!

There are pockets of creativity in our country demonstrating that exceptional healthcare can be delivered at lower costs--in some cases 20% lower.-4 These examples usually involve a clinic or health system serving a defined population of patients. I am unaware of any efforts among competing entities to lower the overall costs of healthcare for an entire geographical region. To do so will be a huge undertaking and will require collaboration among friends and foes--and, yes, there is a business imperative for doing so. There is no shortage of ideas on how to lower costs, but success will never happen without a commitment. Let me suggest:

For hospital board members: Continue to direct your hospital towards financial success while eliciting from management a commitment to lower the overall cost of healthcare in our community. Understandably, this is not a traditional role for boards to undertake; however, there is a crisis at hand. Crisis management requires strong leadership with some "out of the box" and counterintuitive thinking. Educate yourselves on the reasons our healthcare is so expensive and understand how today's hospitals are compounding the problem. Find examples of hospitals trying to solve this problem. You might start by reading the New Yorker article "Hotspotters" by Atul Gawande, and the 2010 and 2011 reports of the Massachusetts Attorney General: Examination of Health Care Cost Trends and Cost Drivers.-5

For hospital management: Continue your amazing work in improving patient safety, growing patient satisfaction, and managing expenses. Make a commitment to lower the overall cost of healthcare in your service area, and include it in your hierarchy of values. Ask your physicians, especially your primary care physicians, which of your current services are adding little overall healthcare value. Commit to transparency in pricing. Do not replicate services currently available in your community for the sole reason of capturing more revenue. Position your hospital to compete on price as well as quality.

For our physicians: Ask yourself--are you playing the revenue generating game; or worse, have you become a pawn in that game? Are you using ancillaries and procedures to manage your patients or to manage your revenue stream? Most of you probably aren't and don't. Are you willing to take a stand against those who are and do? Are you learning to be patient-centered? Is your practice working on becoming a medical home, or a member of a medical neighborhood? Do you consider cost when referring for ancillary services or when prescribing meds? Are you primary care physicians and subspecialists coordinating the care of the very ill or complicating it? Are you duplicating services?

For our insurance companies: When will you learn that nickel and diming physicians--cutting their fees or the fees you pay to their midlevel providers-- simply fuels the revenue generating game? Physicians and hospitals have no motivation to curb spending if the only result is more profits for your industry. Physicians and hospitals want to do the right thing. Give us valid, accurate data; show us where there are opportunities to curb costs and when we are successful in doing so, share with us those savings. Commit yourselves to lowering premiums. You can reduce national healthcare spending by more than $200 billion annually if only you would standardize coverage of benefits and administrative transactions-6. Start a pilot program in DuPage County. Also, form a collaborative, as was done in Pennsylvania, and help to foster the growth of true patient centered medical homes in DuPage County, and in Illinois. Reward practices that certify for and operate as medical homes--as defined by NCQA or similar accreditation. (Do not let one insurer pave the way while others reap the benefits of medical homes.)

Yes, we make strange bedfellows, but we do have examples in DuPage County, such as Access DuPage, in which physicians, hospitals, and social agencies have come together for a noble cause. There have even been examples of insurers working with the healthcare community to improve quality and efficiency. Let's use these experiences to tackle what some think is an insurmountable problem: bending the healthcare cost curve. Let's develop a standardized report card for stewardship of healthcare resources and let all of us (without the input from our marketing department spin doctors!) report our successes and our failures. The residents of DuPage County deserve no less.

Pipe dream? I am counting on a few courageous board members, hospital and physician leaders, as well as insurance executives to think not!

* For a most interesting argument as to why I perhaps should care about semantics, you may want to read: The New Language of Medicine; Pamela Hartzband, M.D., and Jerome Groopman, M.D. NEJM 365;15

1-American College of Physicians. How Can Our Nation Conserve and Distribute Health Care Resources Effectively and Efficiently? Philadelphia: American College of Physicians; 2011: Policy Paper. (Available from American College of Physicians, 190 N. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106.)
2-Fresh Medicine by Philip Bredesen, Atlantic Monthly Press
3-http://www.milliman.com/news-events/press/pdfs/milliman-medical-index-indicates.pdf
4-Milstein A, Gilbertson E. American medical home runs. Health Aff (Millwood) 2009; 28:1317-26.
5-Examination of Health Care Cost Trends and Cost Drivers Pursuant to G.L. c. 118G, § 6½(b) REPORT FOR ANNUAL PUBLIC HEARING UNDER G.L. c. 118G, § 6½ June 22, 2011
6-The $640 Billion Question — Why Does Cost-Effective Care Diffuse So Slowly? Victor R. Fuchs, Ph.D., and Arnold Milstein, M.D., M.P.H. 10.1056/nejmp1104675 2 nejm.org
*This article was previously published by the Dupage County Medical Society in the November/December 2011 edition of In Brief.

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Congratulations to the Newly Elected!

New Fellows

Michael Aref, MD, FACP
Denise K. Au, MD, FACP
Benito M. Camacho, MD, FACP
Gilbert N. Egekeze, MD, FACP
Zachariah Gurnsey, MD, FACP
William D. Kerr, Jr MD, FACP
Maria Saleem Khan, MD, FACP
Jairo A Mejia, MD, FACP
Matthew J. Mischler, MD, FACP
Mehtab M. Mizan, MD, FACP
Robert S. Mocharnuk, MD, FACP
Samer M. Nuhaily, MD, FACP
Robert D. Palinkas, MD, FACP
Amitkumar R. Patel, MD, FACP
Vajeeha Tabassum, MD, FACP
Gladstone A. Tucker, MD, FACP
Akshra Verma, MBBS, FACP
Siegfried W. Yu, MD, FACP
David K. Zich, MD, FACP

New Masters

Patrick J Fahey, MD, MACP, Hines
Robert O Bonow, MD, MACP, Chicago

New Members

Neha Adatia, DO, Naperville
Zainab A Baig, MD, Hinsdale
Sanjay Bangarulingam, MBBS, Springfield
Janet Anne Barczyk, MD, Park Ridge
Lee P Bee, DO, Sparta
Robert L Boone, MD, Urbana
Suraj Bopanna, MBBS, Chicago
Judy A Carter, MD, Oak Park
Anuradha Chaddah, MD, Glenview
Rupel H Dedhia, MD, Chicago
Gini Dutt, MD, Countryside
Ananya Gangopadhyaya, MD, Chicago
Peter D Han, MD, Gurnee
Inderjit K Hansra-Godfrey, Naperville
Roger Vincent Hecker, MD, Mundelein
Maria S Hernandez, MD, Chicago
Jeffrey Charles Hoschek, MD, Hudson
Dana J Howd, MD, Seneca
Maria Ignacio, MD, Chicago
Mercedita C Jacob, MD, Chicago
Elise A Malecki, MD, Chicago
Jason Mathias, MD, Chicago
Lorena A Monterubianesi, MD, Chicago
Sowmya Murthy, MD, Chicago
Swapna Nekkanti, MD, Springfield
Timothy B Niewold, MD, Chicago
Leopoldo S Pardo III, Belleville
Ireneusz Pawlowski, MD, Chicago
Huyen Cecile Phan, MD, Chicago
Benjamin W Phillips, MD, Canton
Alex Aurelio Sanchez, MD, Hoffman Est
Solomon Teshale, MD, Champaign
Anthony C Vacca, DO, Mount Vernon
Sharon Vocino, MD, Chicago
Anass Zaitoon, MD, Chicago

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Save The Date

April 19: Illinois Reception at New Orleans Marriott, 8 – 10 pm
June 6-7: Leadership Day
October 26: Illinois Chapter Meeting and Downstate Associates Day, Springfield Hilton
October 27: Illinois Chapter SEP Modules, Springfield Hilton
November 2: Illinois Chapter Northern Region Associates Day, South Shore Cultural Center, Chicago

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