by Brook Raflo

Alexandria, Va. After serving three years as the public face of the Ameri-can Association for Homecare, Tom Connaughton March 21 announced he will resign as president of the association, effective mid June, 2003.

“This decision is indeed a bitter sweet one,” Connaughton told HomeCare. “I have loved working with this industry and with my staff, and I believe very strongly in the importance of this industry. However, an opportunity has arisen in a company that I have represented in the past, and, at this time in my career, it's something that I want to do.”

In his new position — at the helm of a medical manufacturer's Washington office — Connaughton likely will not address home care issues, he said. Cook Group, based in Bloomingon, Ind., makes devices for the critical care setting, including hernia- and burn-repair products, antibiotic catheters, and diagnostic and interventional devices for everything from angioplasty to neurosurgery. Nonetheless, “I always will be available for advice and counsel for anybody in the home care industry,” Connaughton said.

When asked what challenges his leaving could pose for AAHomecare, Connaughton insisted the transition to a new association president would be a smooth one. “I truly am confident there are people out there who are a lot better than I, and we'll find someone very good,” he said. “Whenever there is change, there are some uncertainties, and I'm sorry that my leaving represents that to the association, but I do not think that any one person is ever indispensable.”

Despite having led a successful lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill to stave off competitive bidding — a campaign that included the creation of a coalition of consumer-advocacy organizations and trade associations — Connaughton counts hiring and keeping a competent staff as his best achievement. “We brought in and kept a terrific staff here, and I'm proudest of that,” he said. “This staff has been able to build a new association that has become a fixture in the industry and a major player in Washington.”

AAHomecare's executive committee is planning its search strategy to fill the president's position, but the committee has not yet focused on any individuals, Connaughton explained.

However, “the organization is strong, and we are confident of finding a capable replacement to build on Tom's excellent efforts,” said Steve Knoll, AAHomecare's chairman.

In other association news, Laura Fisher — formerly a communications specialist at Edelman Public Relations, where her main client was the American Health Care Association — has joined AAHomecare as director of communications, effective March 31.

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