The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) recognized the 50th anniversary of the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP) during the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting this past November in San Francisco. The University of Arizona Arthritis Center followed up with a reception in Tucson to honor past presidents of the ARHP. The Tucson area has the highest concentration of ARHP past presidents, with three: Dr. Eric Gall, Ms. Gail Kershner Riggs and Dr. David Wayne Smith.
C. Kent Kwoh, MD, director of the Center, says Ms. Riggs and Dr. Smith were not able to make the trip to San Francisco, so he and his wife hosted a reception at their home for the three past presidents, who all have long histories with the Arthritis Center, as well as with the ARHP.
David Wayne Smith, DEd, DABPS, FACFE, MACF, was a charter member of the Arthritis Foundation’s Paramedicine Section, the forerunner of ARHP, when it was founded in 1965. He is currently the director of the Disability Assessment Research Clinic (DARC) at the Arthritis Center. As a specialist in disability determination, he evaluates musculoskeletal diseases either to get patients back to work with any necessary accommodations or to get them the disability benefits they deserve.
While Dr. Smith was ARHP president in 1978–1979, the organization formed a closer relationship with physicians. “We went a long way toward improving relationships and acceptance. Before that, the doctors hadn’t really accepted allied health professionals.”
He thinks the ARHP could benefit from having more members who are psychologists. “The psychological side of dealing with disability is as important as the physical. There should be more counseling in chronic illnesses.”
Eric P. Gall, MD, MACP, MACR, was one of the founders of the Arthritis Clinic in 1985, subsequent to his establishment of the rheumatology section at the Tucson Veteran’s Administration Hospital in 1973. Dr. Gall taught at the UA College of Medicine from 1973–1994 and was chief of rheumatology, allergy and immunology. From 1994–2009, he was head of the Department of Medicine at the Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago. He returned to Tucson in 2010 and got re-involved with the Arthritis Clinic. Currently, he is the interim director.
During his time as ARHP president, 1982–1983, he says his main agenda “was to get physical therapists, occupational therapists and registered nurses to do research that would prove the effectiveness of what they did.” The ARHP’s integration into the ACR began during his term, so he was involved in integrating the committees in the two organizations.