Cross: 'FAMES is back'

Thursday, April 30, 2009

BRADENTON, Fla.--Some long-time members took over the reins of the Florida Association of Medical Equipment Services (FAMES) in March, citing a need to revive the once-powerful association.

Industry veteran Joan Cross was named new executive director. Provider Greg Sims of Gator Custom Mobility will serve as president, and Raul Lopez of Bayshore Dura Medical will stay on as immediate past president.

“The ball got dropped,” said Cross, who has served for 17 years on the FAMES board, and seven as its president or vice president.

FAMES, which started in 1982, ceased operations earlier this year, amid concerns of financial difficulties and declining membership. But, with a host of issues like national competitive bidding and a 36-month cap on oxygen, board members weren’t prepared to let the association die.

Work is already underway, said Sims, who has been with FAMES for five years.

“On a state level, Florida’s current budget crisis is a catalyst for change in many of the state’s agencies,” he said. “And, competitive bidding may once again bring the unfair treatment of Florida providers.”

Also on the agenda: Boosting membership, which reached an all-time high of about 200 under Cross’ leadership several years ago.

To cut expenses, Cross will run the association out of her offices at C&C Homecare, which she co-owns with her husband, Alan, for the time being. They plan to sell the business.

“I want to feel like I am doing some good,” she said. “FAMES is back.”