The latest Mobility Management podcast provides additional insight into the University of Pittsburgh’s decision this week to change the format of January’s International Seating Symposium (ISS) entirely to virtual attendance.
Mark Schmeler, Ph.D., OTR/L, ATP, the Director of the ISS, announced on Jan. 3 that the Symposium will take place as scheduled, but not as an in-person event.
As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 swept through much of the world in late December, Schmeler said ISS team members met “almost daily” to discuss their options for the seating and wheeled mobility industry’s premier event.
“We’ve kind of been ready to pivot at any point,” Schmeler said, noting that this 37th edition of the ISS had already been rescheduled twice. “The contagiousness of [the Omicron variant] is just mind boggling. There are people getting this variant who you would never think would get COVID. They’re the most diligent people, and they were getting it.”
Schmeler explained that the ISS team’s concerns included the ripple effect that a COVID outbreak at the ISS could have: “If we get it, we can’t go to work and take care of patients.” He also cited logistical and staffing issues caused by COVID, and the fact that many employers are once again banning non-essential travel.
As a result, the ISS will take place “at the same time — it’s just going to be virtual,” Schmeler said. Barry Steelman of Steelman Marketing, who is working with the ISS team, added that the virtual exhibit hall features a platform “to introduce new product to the ATPs, OTs and PTs like they would with an in-person event.”