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News & Press: Association News

Association for Vascular Access Celebrates Inaugural Vascular Access Specialty Day

Saturday, October 5, 2019  
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LAS VEGAS – For Suzanne Herbst, there’s no better way to celebrate a birthday than with 2,000 of your closest friends during the first-ever Vascular Access Specialty Day.

 “All of you here is amazing and a testament to your commitment to vascular access,” Herbst said on stage at the Caesars Palace Convention Center in Las Vegas on Saturday, October 5, shortly after receiving a bouquet and birthday cake. “You’re all champions and to come here and want to learn more, you’re wonderful … I applaud you for what you do. Thank you so much for my birthday.”

A registered nurse, Herbst is the founder of the Association for Vascular Access (AVA), an association of healthcare professionals that promote healthcare’s emerging vascular access specialty. AVA holds annual scientific meetings at different locations across the U.S. The 2019 version marked the 33rd consecutive year the organization celebrated its family reunion, but the first time it celebrated Vascular Access Specialty Day.


“Vascular Access Specialty Day allows us to recognize the dedicated individuals who safeguard the gateway to healthcare delivery in every setting,” AVA CEO Ramzy Nasrallah said. “Vascular Access Specialists are multidisciplinary, representing all facets of healthcare, working throughout the care continuum. Their work requires recognition.”

 AVA intends to celebrate the day moving forward, each with a different slogan. This year’s motto, “Improving Patient Outcomes, One Vessel at a Time,” was coined by AVA member Teresa Ortiz, MSN, RN, and magnified by all attendees throughout Herbst’s birthday celebration and the rest of the scientific meeting.

“The inaugural Vascular Access Specialty Day was a great success,” said AVA Member Engagement Committee Chair Chris Cavanaugh, BSN, RN, CRNI®, CIC, VA-BC™. “I can’t think of a better way to honor our founder, and at the same time call attention to the specialty that is Vascular Access. It is our hope that this day’s celebration can draw attention to and demonstrate the importance of having a Vascular Access Specialist in every hospital to ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

Cavanaugh led an effort in her home state of Florida to do just that. Mayors Lenny Curry of Jacksonville, Jane Castor of Tampa, and Buddy Dyer of Orlando all signed official proclamations recognizing Oct. 5, 2019, as Vascular Access Specialty Day. Mayor Jake Day did the same in Salisbury, Maryland.

“Our first Vascular Access Specialty Day was amazing as we celebrated with Suzanne and the more than 1,900 Scientific Meeting attendees,” AVA COO Tonya Hutchison said. “Oct. 5 is special because it united all disciplines that make up the specialty of Vascular Access, just as being an AVA member does. I am proud of AVA for declaring this day to celebrate the specialty and excited to watch it celebrate it each year moving forward.”

Herbst started the Bay Area Vascular Access Committee (BAVAC) in the Bay Area in 1985. Her determination to improve patient care built an international conglomerate of nurses, clinical educators, physicians, infection preventionists, radiologists, and many other disciplines. As BAVAC morphed into what AVA is today, an organization with more than 3,000 national members and growing, Herbst stood at the forefront at filling the gaps between clinician education and hands-on training after witnessing firsthand the struggles patients faced with unsafe needlesticks and improper practice.

“You’d have a patient come home from the hospital and they’d say they just got stuck 5 times by the same person, and they never had another person that was up to speed,” Herbst said. “And I understood that you can’t just keep repeatedly sticking someone because their veins are going to constrict.”

Considered the experts at performing the most common invasive procedure in healthcare, the vascular access specialists that attend the annual meeting also can join one of AVA’s 52 active vascular access networks across the U.S. and Canada. Continuing education credits are available at AVA’s online learning center, AVA Academy, and members have access to a bevy of other perks, like discounts on scrubs and hotel rooms.

The group’s annual scientific meeting, however, allows attendees to set sail on a four-day voyage full of educational sessions, networking opportunities and face-to-face interactions with industry exhibitors. This year’s event in Las Vegas witnessed a more than 25% increase in attendance, with attendees receiving top-flight education, networking, and an opportunity to meet with the companies that produce the devices and products they insert in patients daily.

A celebration certainly worthy of cake, flowers, handshakes, and hugs.

“I had an incredible birthday and look forward to what future Vascular Access Specialty Days have in store for AVA,” Herbst said.