chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
December 22, 2021

Chair's Column: Ending the Year on a High Note

Clay J. Countryman

As I write my last Chair’s Column for the year, I am thinking of how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered our professional and personal lives in many ways.  I am hoping that everything about how we have lived and worked since the Spring of 2020 will not become the “new normal,” but it may already have.  With the increasing spread of the latest COVID-19 variant, Omicron, it seems we will at least continue to live and work “virtually,” wear face masks, and take other precautions for the near future.

While a vast number of professionals seem to continue to be working remotely, I am lucky to be working in my office and have been since June 2020.  Although I am still at work, I enjoy my view of the Mississippi River as it flows past Baton Rouge towards the Gulf of Mexico.  The river actually flows from right to left in front of my office window, which is southward or “down river.”  To me there is always something peaceful in watching barges and tankers float down the bends and turns of the Mississippi River.  I am still waiting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn to float by on a log raft.

A high note for me as this year ends is the recent ABA Washington Health Law Summit (WHS) by the Health Law Section in Washington, D.C. earlier this month on December 6th and 7th.    When I arrived at the Ritz Carlton on Sunday December 5th, I was thinking – Yes, this is really happening!

WHS was the Section’s first in-person conference in two years!  Although there were many challenges in putting together WHS this year, I consider WHS to have been very successful and a great event for the Section, especially in terms of registration and attendance, speakers and health law policy content, sponsorship support, and especially getting together with other Section members and attendees.

Although many challenges lie ahead, I hope Health Law Section members also feel the optimism that I have about the Section’s initiatives and future planning activities.  A challenge for 2022 and beyond is in large part to find new leaders and support  current leaders in addressing issues ranging from working with our healthcare clients who continue to be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, recent Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute changes, healthcare delivery and payment reform, coverage and treatment of mental health issues, to diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as health care access issues.

My personal “high note” at the end of 2021 includes the good health of my family and friends, and the moving back to the South of my youngest daughter, Molly, who has been living in Montana.  Although, admittedly, I will miss the trips to Montana.

I was asked if the Oklahoma Sooners would make this column.  And yes, it is a high note for me that the Oklahoma football team has a new coach and coaching staff as the team heads into 2022! 

I hope the New Year brings good health, peace, happiness, and an overall effort by people to work together in 2022.

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.

Clay Countryman

Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, L.L.P., Baton Rouge, LA

Clay Countryman is a partner in the healthcare group in the Baton Rouge office of Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, L.L.P. Mr. Countryman represents clients in all areas of the healthcare industry, with a focus on healthcare corporate transactions, fraud and abuse compliance, development of healthcare provider networks and alternative healthcare payment approaches.

Clay has primarily served as legal counsel to several different types of healthcare providers and provider organizations, ranging from national and regional hospital systems, physician organizations, specialty physician groups, clinically integrated networks, physician-owned hospitals, diagnostic imaging facilities, ambulatory surgical centers, pharmacies, healthcare management companies, and healthcare trade associations.

Clay is an active member of several healthcare associations and other organizations. Clay has been an active member of the American Bar Association for over 20 years, including vice chair in the Health Law Section, the ABA Veterans Legal Services Commission, Medical-Legal Partnerships and the ABA Young Lawyers Division.