Hawaiian Eye opens: Largest in-person US medical meeting since pandemic began
WAILEA, Hawaii — Despite logistical challenges and fluctuating health department regulations, Hawaiian Eye, the U.S.’ third largest ophthalmic meeting, opens here today to a live audience of more than 600 health care professionals and a total audience of 1,000.
Hawaiian Eye has occurred every January for almost 40 years and consists of four programs – Comprehensive, Retina, Nursing and Administrator. It is known as the proverbial kickoff of ophthalmic education every year. The 2021 edition of this meeting was moved to May because of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 90% of registered attendees opted to be live and in-person at Hawaiian Eye.
“As was the case with all meeting organizers, we had to make a lot of tough decisions along the way and then ultimately make the bold move to be live,” Peter N. Slack, CEO and president of the Wyanoke Group, parent company of Hawaiian Eye, said. “As we stand here today, physicians and industry are rolling in and in larger numbers than we expected.”
Facing ever changing U.S., state and Maui County health regulations, the organizers of the meeting focused on three key elements as the meeting approached – open-air meeting sessions, safety precautions and risk-free cancellation. Hawaiian Eye will have contactless check-in and frequent disinfection around the Grand Wailea Maui Resort common areas and meeting spaces. Additionally, the organizers provided attendees guidance on travel and onsite protocols.
Attendees from the U.S. mainland were mandated to be tested for COVID-19, upload their negative test results to the State of Hawaii Safe Travels website, as well as download a contact tracing app and fill out a health questionnaire. COVID-19 testing was required 72 hours before departure and only at sites approved by the State of Hawaii.
Michael P. Victorino, Maui County mayor, personally reviewed the submitted meeting space plans to ensure they complied with his county’s safety requirements, according to John C. Carter, chief operating officer of the Wyanoke Group, parent company of Hawaiian Eye.
“I and over 600 of my colleagues are back attending an in-person 7-day Hawaiian Eye and Retina 2021 meeting in beautiful Maui, Hawaii. The Physician, Administrator, Technician and Nurse programs are the same comprehensive update as presented prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Richard L. Lindstrom MD, comprehensive program chair, told Healio. “Industry participation is strong, and it is a joy for all of us to meet and greet old friends.”