Guy Sallet MD, FEBO
Social and medical care has changed dramatically in Belgium. Dr Guy Sallet describes how ophthalmic practice changed over the course of one week. Dr Sallet is Medical Director, Eye Institute Aalst, Belgium.
March 14: Lockdown of bars and restaurants, schools and universities
March 16 : All elective procedures and non-urgent consultations postponed in clinics and hospitals. Extramural private centres can still see patients and do elective procedures. Although quite some clinics work at less than 50%, because avoidance of full waiting rooms and too much contacts.
March 17: Activity down to 20% due to cancellations by patients and cancellation of non-urgent operations (cataract and refractive). The policy of our clinic now is to hold one consultation room for emergencies and postpone planned operations as much as possible.
March 18: Cancellation of all elective procedures and consultations. Only highly urgent operations and emergency consultations as well as necessary intravitreal injections are taking place. There have been no clear guidelines concerning activity in ophthalmic practices but the Belgian ophthalmic societies urge the community to stop non-urgent consultations and surgeries. Temporary unemployment of staff has been regulated by the Belgian government and staff get 70% of their salary.
March 23: Ophthalmologists in our clinic will be on-call for first aid in admission and possibly as well in other departments if necessary. This is a chance for us to refresh and update our knowledge in general medicine.
As you can see, there has been a real tsunami of lockdown and other measures to minimise individual contacts and to control this epidemic.
Outdoor city life in peak time is pretty much the same as an early Sunday morning. By now, Belgian people are adhering to governmental advice and rules. Hopefully, this can help us to downsize the rate of infected people.
My thoughts also go to our colleagues and population in Italy and Spain, who suffer the most and I hope we in Belgium can avoid these overcrowded IC units.