Meet the 2019 Eisenberg Health Policy Grant recipients

June 2019 – Vol. 38, No. 5

The Academy is proud to announce the 2019 Eisenberg Health Policy Grants were awarded to four individuals who embody a commitment to advocacy. Established in 2018, the grants fund four residents to attend the AAO-HNS/F Leadership Forum & BOG Spring Meeting and meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill and local members of Congress.

“These grants give residents the opportunity to meet Academy leaders and visit Congress to gain experience in how to present our thoughts on proposed legislation in a concise and positive way. Finally, and most important, is to develop a group of people who are enthusiastic and willing to continue to stay involved with the Academy and strive to become our future leaders.”

– Lee D. Eisenberg, MD, MPH
The grants are funded by Dr. Eisenberg.

Ghedak Ansari, MD, MPH, MSEd

Resident, Kaiser Permanente, Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery at Oakland, CA
Ghedak Ansari, MD, MPH, MSEd, was a child of the 1991 Iraq Gulf War, a refugee, teacher, congressional intern with former Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, public health student at Johns Hopkins University, and now an otolaryngology resident. She remembers back to her childhood that “my ear infections would start when we were forced to run down to the basement, and I was trapped without a physician or medication, holding my ears in pain until the skies turned blue again.” Dr. Ansari said the Eisenberg grant will help her continue to advocate for access to affordable healthcare and prescription drug coverage.

Hilary Caitlyn McCrary, MD, MPH

Resident, University of Utah School of Medicine, Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery
Hilary Caitlyn McCrary, MD, MPH, earned her Master’s in Public Health prior to starting residency. Dr. McCrary describes her current research that implements extended use of non-opioid medications (including Celebrex) for patients with head and neck cancer undergoing resection and reconstruction, as “ important work to create nationwide opioid policies that reduce morbidity and mortality related to their use.” As an Eisenberg Grant recipient, “I will take what I learned to join the ENT Advocacy Network and refine my skills to advocate in areas I believe in, such as expanding access to healthcare in rural communities and stemming the opioid crisis.”

Daniel C. O’Brien, MD

Resident, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery
Daniel C. O’Brien, MD, has participated in advocacy programs both in the California legislature and in Washington, DC, for events on Capitol Hill. “Living in West Virginia, I have seen patients coming from five hours away to receive care.” He said he believes that access to affordable care, leveraging technology as the new frontier, and the ability to acquire and maintain comprehensive health coverage are among today’s most important issues.

“The cost of healthcare is often shifted to those without insurance, and usually to those least able to pay. As such, we need to bend the cost curve so that it impacts our patients less.”

Kevin J. Contrera, MD, MPH

Resident, Cleveland Clinic Head & Neck Institute
“If you practice medicine, you practice policy.” These words were introduced to Kevin J. Contrera, MD, MPH, as a first-year medical student and have become his anthem. “Starting as the AMA National Student Chair for Advocacy, we used this message to develop the largest student campaign in recent history to avert cuts to graduate medical education. More recently, my time on the AAO-HNS Legislative Affairs Committee was focused on activating membership through Project 535. He said the grant will allow him “to continue to champion this message and work to forge meaningful connections with leaders in the field, many of whom I aspire to emulate.”