Just what every CME program needs: 300 pigs' feet and a wedding

Last August, the American Academy of Pediatrics' biannual three-day, 300-attendee Emergency Medicine PREP course at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel and Towers ran into a few problems.

Obstacle #1: The Wedding

The son of one of the area's most well-known rabbis selected the Sheraton Seattle as the perfect site for his wedding — the only problem was that the wedding would take up almost the entire space where AAP was holding its 24 workshops, 10 of which were skills classes that required special work setups and equipment.

“Leslie McKenzie, the convention services manager, told me what was going to happen, and how it was not going to affect my program,” says Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based Christopher Grace, AAP meetings services coordinator.

And it didn't. Grace says the hotel's staff helped break everything down and put it in storage, and helped again after the wedding to put everything back up. “To us, quick turns and changing room sets are normal things,” shrugs McKenzie.

Obstacle #2: 300 Pigs' Feet

“Physicians often practice on pig's skin because it so closely emulates human skin, so we needed about 300 pigs' feet for a suturing workshop,” says Grace.

The slaughterhouse had to deliver the feet the day before the meeting, but because they were packaged as food products, the hotel could store them overnight — ”We're talking a couple of four-foot stacks of boxes in their freezer,” he says. “They were able to thaw them so the feet weren't frozen for our workshop, and they set up a system to keep the feet cold and fresh so physicians could pick up a new pig's foot and deposit the used ones.”

“We've had a group of orthopods here before, and they had a room set aside for cadavers. So for us, pigs' feet weren't a big thing,” says McKenzie.

“Meeting planners like Chris make our jobs easier,” says McKenzie. “I'm so glad they're coming back.”

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