Three groups look to gain 'critical mass'
Calling it a sign of the times, three state associations have merged to form a new regional association.
The Great Lakes Home Medical Services Association is comprised of the memberships of the Association of Indiana Home Medical Equipment Services (AIHMES), the Illinois Association for Medical Equipment Services (AIMES), and the Michigan Independent Providers Association (MIPA).
“Because of the contraction of the membership base, trying to get a critical mass to be effective and to get things done is tough,” said George Kucka, a former executive director of AIHMES and secretary of the new association. “With three states coming together, it hopefully will give us some resources to fight on a national level better.”
Both AIHMES and IAMES have seen membership declines over the past several years. AIHMES has gone from a high of about 115 members in the early 90s to about 20 members. IAMES currently has about 40 members, down from a high of about 115 members.
MIPA, a relative newcomer, has struggled to grow, says Tim Hatt, vice chairman. The association formed in 2010 when several providers split off from an existing association because they wanted to focus solely on DME issues.
“We raised awareness and highlighted issues of an HME nature,” he said.
The Great Lakes association plans to tackle a variety of issues, both national and local, says Dave Doubek, former treasurer of IAMES, who will assume the same role at Great Lakes.
“There are some individual state issues that can be handled by committees and the bigger issues are certainly global,” he said.
The Great Lakes association plans to hold its inaugural conference May 20-21, in Tinley Park, Ill. Kam Yuricich, who has provided administrative services for both IAMES and AIHMES, will serve as executive director of the new association. She will also retain her role as executive director of the Ohio Association of Medical Equipment Services.