Johan Blanckaert MD
Private practice is in a challenging place in Belgium as ophthalmologists come to terms with the impact of COVID-19.
All elective procedures are cancelled at least until April because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dr Johan Blanckaert, President of the Belgian Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons.
“The guidelines are very clear. Everything that’s not urgent or not necessary, all that type of medical treatment needs to be considered elective and can be postponed,” he said in an interview with EuroTimes.
Surgeries that are taking place include urgent cataract surgery, acute glaucoma, urgencies and children. “If you have children who need congenital cataract surgery, their time is precious,” he said. In short, everything where to put off surgery would be more damaging than to carry it out.
The shutdown not only has an effect on patients but also on staff. “The government has made a plan where you can put your working staff on leave, paid leave by the government and they get 70% of their wages,” he added.
“The real trouble will be in keeping this alive for the time necessary to fight off the coronavirus. What will it be in two months? It will be very, very difficult for a lot of private centres to keep the wages and the expenses going. So that will be the major hurdle, I think,” he concluded.