The History of Old Dominion Society of Gastroenterology and Associates

ODSGNA, Region 62

By Cindy Taylor, BSN, MSA, CGRN

Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state located in the South Atlantic region of the United States.  Virginia is nicknamed the “Old Dominion”, due to its status as a former dominion of the English Crown.  The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, thus defining our region and name; Region 62, Old Dominion Society of Gastroenterology and Associates (ODSGNA).

The Region’s history began with the enthusiasm of three founding members: Gail DeCosta RN, Nancy Schlossberg RN, Maureen Wright RN, and a very active and involved Olympus Representative: Tom Kolenich.  Nancy Schlossberg had participated in activities with the NY chapter of SGNA and moved to Virginia in 1985.  During the time prior to her move several regional hospitals were holding educational events throughout areas in Virginia.  Gail DeCosta held a yearly educational event at the Medical College of Virginia called “Principles and Practice” for nurses who desperately were seeking education and collaboration with other RNs and associates in the GI profession.  Chesapeake had already formed a chapter and held meetings in Williamsburg.  Gail, Nancy and Maureen wanted to participate, but were unsure about joining the Chesapeake Region.  While at a National Conference in San Francisco in 1990 they were approached by Tom Kolenich to “have lunch and talk”. Little did they know that was the first meeting of ODSGNA.  Up until now, Tom had been meeting with the ladies individually questioning why there was no Virginia chapter and why they had been reluctant to join the Chesapeake Chapter.  The attendees during that first lunch meeting were Tom, Gail, Nancy, and Maureen.  The planning began; they contacted National SGNA to find out what was needed to establish their own Charter/Region and the process to submit documents.  Nancy was instrumental in getting the paperwork completed and submitted the application the following year, 1991.

Between 1990 and 1992 the group established the Chapter’s name based on Virginia’s nickname. Developed a logo and pin, which Maureen’s son Sean helped to design.  The pin was eventually updated in 1998 to include the state bird – Cardinal and the Virginia state flower – Dogwood. Maureen also was editor and published the “EndoScoop”, a bi-annual newsletter for the membership.  Educational meetings were being held at the Medical College of Virginia and in the Tidewater area, as well as local evening meetings throughout the region.  In May 1992 Old Dominion SGNA received its’ first Charter, a proud moment for the founding members; demonstrating their hard work, effort and commitment to the Region and Chapter.  Nancy Schlossberg served as the first president of ODSGNA, Maureen Wright served as President-Elect, Suzanne Tharin served as Treasurer and Gail DeCosta was in charge of educational programs; behold, the first Board of Directors for ODSGNA was established.  Dr. Alvin Zfass and Dr. David Johnson played a vital role in support of the Chapter as Medical Directors.

The Board of Directors worked diligently in growing their newly developed region and stayed busy over the next 10 years serving in one capacity or another for the ODSGNA region and the National SGNA.    Gail DeCosta “Mother of GI” was an early pioneer in gastroenterology patient care, serving on National SGNA committee’s and SGNA Board of Directors.  Certification in GI was important to Gail and as a result she pursued a position with the certifying Council for Gastroenterology (CCGN) and served as President of CCGN from 1989-1990.  A little history on the certifying board for those that may not recognize CCGN; the board’s name changed three times from Certifying Council for Gastroenterology Nurses (CCGN) to Certification Board for Gastroenterology Nurses (CBGN) to their current name, the American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses (ABCGN).  As CCGN President, Gail signed Maureen’s first certification in 1990.  Gail continued to teach and mentor many GI nurses throughout her career as a GI nurse; enlisting members such as Karen Chambers, Sharon Everette, Audrey Trent, Cindy Taylor, Campbell Harris to serve as speakers, planners, and event coordinators for the many educational courses held in the area.   In 1995 Gail was recognized by SGNA for her contributions in direct patient care and awarded the prestigious “Gabriele Schindler” award; the highest award given by SGNA.  Meanwhile, Nancy and Maureen were behind the scenes participating in National SGNA activities.  Nancy and Maureen both served on the National SGNA Board from May 1999 to May 2001.  Nancy Chaired the SGNA annual Education Course in Pittsburgh, PA 1995-1996.  She helped to edit and coordinate the publication Gastroenterology; A Core Curriculum, 2nd Ed.  Her many activities included Chair of the SGNA Web site Task Force, SGNA Liaison to DDNC (Digestive Disease national Coalition), SGNA liaison ASGE health and Public Policy Committee, SGNA representative National Colorectal Roundtable.  Maureen and Nancy sat on the Digestive Disease Coalition in Washington. The DDNC works cooperatively to improve access and the quality of digestive disease health care in order to promote the best possible medical outcome and quality of life for current and future patients with digestive diseases.  Their motivation to sit on the coalition was to promote public policy related to digestive diseases and increase public awareness with respect to colorectal cancer and prevention. Due to her extensive dedication and work Nancy was nominated and won as the 2000 SGNA National President and served 2000-2001.  The following year, the ODSGNA region won the “2001 Outstanding Regional Society of the Year” award.  In 2003, Nancy relentless in her pursuit to drive home the importance of colorectal cancer screening and reimbursement was nominated by the members and won the SGNA “Distinguished Service Award”.

The Old Dominion Region was heavily involved (1998-2000) with the legislative process (National Colorectal Roundtable) and responsible for driving reimbursement for colorectal cancer screening.  How did it transpire?  Gail DeCosta challenged Nancy Schlossberg as president of ODSGNA to send a letter to Virginia’s Senator Emily Couric asking her to sponsor legislation to mandate insurance coverage for colorectal cancer screening.  Nancy, Gail and Audrey Trent traveled to Washington and testified before the Virginia house committee in favor of the bill.  Their determination and Nancy’s appeal resulted in Virginia passing the first legislation in the country that mandated insurance coverage for colorectal cancer screening.  After the Virginia bill was submitted to legislation the GI physicians and the American Cancer Society committed to the cause for reimbursement for colorectal cancer screening and followed in the path of the GI nurses.  ODSGNA’s passions lead to the collaboration with Virginia Gastroenterology Society and American College of Gastroenterology to set up and fund the ACG Emily Couric Memorial lecture. The organizations collectively donated 500,000 over a 10 year period to fund the lecture series.

Membership grew as well as the need to educate the regions new GI nurses and Associates.  The Board of Directors, dedicated to the safe and effective practice of gastroenterology and endoscopy nursing recognized this need.  In 2008, “Back to Basics” and ‘Beyond the Basics” lecture series were developed to satisfy the needs of the Old Dominion members. These courses were added to the collaborative meetings already established; DelMarVa SGNA Education Conference and ACG/VGS/SGNA Williamsburg Conference.  Again, SGNA recognized ODSGNA’s dedication, advocacy, collaboration, and the desire to promote the professional development of its members and in 2012 ODSGNA members won the following awards:  Regional Society Member of the Year – Cindy Taylor; ABCGN GI Professional of the Year – Nancy Schlossberg. The members of ODSGNA are rich with experience, knowledge and skill.  They continue to provide excellent educational events in collaboration with our professional partners.  Education for our members is a top priority and has been streamlined to offer the most current information, knowledgeable speakers in a cost effective and friendly environment.  These endeavors and many more culminated in the regions award of “Outstanding Regional Society” in 2013.

The regions success is directly related to the passion and leadership of the members and Board of Directors.  Below is a composite of the past and current ODSGNA Presidents.

Presidents  –  Old Dominion Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates
Name Year
Nancy Schlossberg 1990 & 1994
Maureen Wright 1992 & 1995 & 1997
Gail DeCosta 1993 & 1996
Nancy Schlossberg 1998-2000
Audrey Trent 2000-2002
Cynthia Waldron 2002-2004
Billie Blevins 2004-2006
Maureen Wright 2006-2008
Campbell Harris 2008-2010
Cindy Taylor 2010-2012
Lorrie Brickner 2012-2014
Eileen Babb 2014-2016
Donna Dickinson 2016-2018
Irene Rader 2018-2020