Welcome to New Orleans, location of AAO 2014, the American Orthodontists' Conference
When you fly into New Orleans, you arrive at Louis Armstrong International Airport. Strangely enough, there’s a Louis Armstrong Stadium in the Queen’s district of New York because that’s where he actually lived for much of his life, but the association of New Orleans, Louis Armstrong and Jazz is clearly too good to pass up, so Louis Armstrong Airport it is.
It’s a bit like the airport in Liverpool getting named after John Lennon, even though he lived in New York for about half his adult life. On the other hand, the airport actually in New York is named after John F Kennedy, who was from a different place altogether.
Along with a couple of thousand other orthodontists, and two other members of the Swords Ortho team, I am in New Orleans for the biggest orthodontics conference in the world, the American Association of Orthodontists’ annual meeting, AAO 2014. It’ll be held at the Ernest Morial Convention Centre. Ernest Morial was a former Mayor of New Orleans, it turns out. As was his son.
The world's most eminent orthodontists will be speaking and sharing their knowledge with the rest of us, experts in running practices more efficiently will be talking to team members on orthodontic practice management, and there'll also be speakers from a non-orthodontic background talking about all manner of other things that would keep a team in good condition, physically and mentally. Including, this year, a director of the Ritz Carlton hotel group talking about customer service. There will also be a massive trade show, where orthodontic manufacturers and suppliers from all over the world will be showing their products, textbooks, instruments, computer software, X-ray equipment, practice design planning and even the chairs we sit on.
By coincidence, the AAO meeting was meant to happen in New Orleans the year that the city was practically destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. That was 9 years ago and the city is getting back together, although many thousands of people left and didn’t come back.
New Orleans is practically below sea level, in parts certainly below the level of the Mississippi river that runs through it, so when the hurricane struck, it didn't take much damage to cause devastating floods. The Swords Orthodontics Team were staying in a hotel that overlooked the Superdome Sports Stadium, where many of the city's inhabitants took shelter, turning it into a massive refugee camp in the USA for local US citizens. Right throughout the city there are stories to be heard about it, and most of them aren't pleasant.