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November 23, 2021

Chair's Column: Be Real and Purposeful

By Clay J. Countryman

Thanksgiving marks an important time for all of us to take a moment and remember the good things we have been blessed with in life and everything that we are thankful for.  As we continue to face different and evolving challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, I am reminded more than ever to appreciate having good health, family and friends. 

I am also reminded of one of a special intangible benefit of the ABA Health Law Section – the personal and professional relationships with other members of the Health Law Section and the ABA.

In addition to remembering to be thankful, I am also reminded of the importance of remembering “What is real” and “What is Not Real” in our everyday lives.  I was reminded of this as I got lost this weekend in the twitter posts (tweets) regarding the numerous “Breaking News” posts regarding the changes in head coaches at several college football programs, including my alma mater Oklahoma.  I am also reminded of this when I see twitter and Facebook posts with news and political stories.

I didn’t pay much attention to the phrase “fake news” for a long time mostly because it sounded like an attempt to discredit a news story or information.   However, I have learned that there is a lot of “fake news” out there, including attempts by many to create “narratives” on information we are presented with through social medical outlets.   A danger in spreading “fake news” or a certain narrative is that many consider such information to be true or factual after it is repeated or quoted over and over.   

A somewhat innocent example of “fake news” being considered true or factual is the perception (by some but not all) that either Mel Tucker, the Michigan State University football coach or Lincoln Riley, the ex-Oklahoma University football coach would become the next college football coach of LSU (Louisiana State University) based on numerous and repeated tweets of “Breaking News” that agreements had been reached with both coaches.    I thought this example was better for this column than potential “political fake news” posted on Twitter or Facebook. 

Back to “What is Real” and important in our lives, and certainly mine at the moment.

  • What is Real – is the challenges we continue to face in moving forward initiatives to advance diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, and ways to bring our communities together.  Our challenge, among many, is to be consistent in our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in all aspects of our personal and professional lives, and not to have as some say “fatigue” in addressing these critical issues.
  • What is Real – is the time and tireless efforts by Simeon Carson, the Director of the ABA Health Law Section and the entire Health Law Section staff in supporting and making happen all of the Health Law Section educational programs, webinars, publications, conferences, Interest Groups, task forces, and educational outreach groups.

This Thanksgiving I was reminded of all the wonderful blessings I have been able to experience and receive in my life.  I am grateful for the privilege of being Chair of the Health Law Section this bar year and working with the ABA Health Law Section staff and Section leaders in bringing value to our members through educational programs, publications and other events. 

While challenging times continue, especially from the COVID-19 pandemic, the ABA Health Law Section continues to be resilient and offer valuable support for health law attorneys and the health care industry. 

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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.