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Inaugural Virtual Ophthamology Conference: Ben-Gurion/UMass Collaboration

Date Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at the UMass Chan Medical School and the Department of Ophthalmology, Soroka University Medical Center Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel held a virtual conference to discuss COVID-19 pandemic experiences in academic settings.

Shlomit Schaal MD, PhD, MHCM of UMass and Erez Tsumi MD, MHA of Soroka University opened the morning event to introduce their departments as well as current events in their respective countries. Highlighted the differences between how Massachusetts and the Northeast were handling of testing and hospitalizations compared to the whole US and the impact of new cases and preventative measures.

Perach Osaadon MD of Soroka University gave a historical background of COVID-19 and how countries reported cases and showed the spread of the virus. This led to a presentation on how they made their intravitreal injection clinic available to their patients outside of the clinic setting. An ambulance was outfitted to make the clinic mobile. Patients were able to receive their injections in a safe manner.

Dr. Priya Janardhana MD of UMass presented on safety and PPE. She spoke on the measures the Eye Center took to make sure that the patients that were coming in as well as the attendings and staff were protected. The Eye Center was able to come up with many precautionary procedures including limiting visitors, closing waiting rooms, and visual cues to denote rooms that were cleaned and sterilized. Residency Program Director Misha Faustina MD, FACS discussed the effects on Ophthalmology Residencies across the US. She reviewed guidelines handed down by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education

Resident doctors Soraiya Thura and Saad Al-Kadhi discussed the clinic flows due to the new Phases of clinical operation at UMass. During the first phase, only urgent and emergent patients were allowed in the clinic. The residents participated in phone triaging to the attendings to help moderate all patients inquires. Telehealth medicine was quickly incorporated into all resident and attending daily schedules to allow more access to care.

Aviel Haddad MD of Soroka University gave the last presentation of the conference. Dr. Haddad, as part of the UMass Ben- Gurion exchange program, completed a 3-month research rotation in Worcester in 2019. He covered ocular conditions on patients that have had Bariatric surgery. This research has been proposed to be studied at UMass in conjunction with Soroka.

This event was warmly received by both programs and more will follow in the future.