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ISS prioritizes patient care

ISS prioritizes patient care ‘Don’t go anywhere; we’re going to need you’

Mark SchmelerPITTSBURGH – Organizers have moved the International Seating Symposium from October to January, in large part, to make sure clinicians are free to help with COVID-19 patients who are in recovery, says Mark Schmeler. 

“We are all, as clinicians, busy taking care of people,” said Schmeler, an associate professor in the Rehabilitation Science and Technology Department at the University of Pittsburgh, which is organizing the event. “You see on the news that ICU beds are full, but what you don’t see is what happens after the ICU. It’s rehab. The messages our clinicians are getting from hospitals right now is, ‘Don’t go anywhere; we’re going to need you.’ So continuing education, while important, is not a priority right now.” 

ISS is now scheduled to take place Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2022, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburg. The event was originally scheduled for March 18-20, 2021, and then Oct. 26-30, 2021. 

Schmeler says UPitt is also seeing higher caseloads due to patients being brought in from other regions of the state and other states. 

“We may not have a high incidence of COVID-19 cases here, specifically, but patients are being shifted around, and we have to be prepared for whatever comes our way,” he said. 

Schmeler says the status of ISS is still fluid and that organizers will assess the situation again in late November. 

“All options are on the table,” he said. “Our preference would be to do an in-person conference, but we have the ability to pivot if we need to.” 

Schmeler says there’s nothing special about the new dates – that’s just what the convention center had available. 

“The convention centers are getting booked out for the spring – everyone is shifting their conference from the fall to next year,” he said. 

And Schmeler says, despite preconceived notions, winters in Pittsburgh aren’t that bad. 

“Pittsburgh doesn’t usually see harsh winters,” he said. “At the very least, someone said to me, ‘It’s always 72 degrees in the exhibit hall.”


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