Dear SIZ members, dear colleagues, dear friends,
The COVID-19 pandemic has struck our country hard. Thanks to a huge collective effort, our intensive care units have been able to handle the first wave of patients in a good way, and have not encountered a capacity problem. In addition, the discipline of the majority of the Belgian population has allowed us to crunch the curve. Every intensivist, every critical care nurse, every manager, every technician, cleaning personal, and others that have contributed, can be extremely proud of how we handled what is probably the largest crisis of the health care system in the past 100 years.
Now that the first COVID peak is almost behind us, and most patients have been discharged from the ICU and the hospital, the SIZ hopes that normal life can return for you all. We hope you have been able to count on your families and loved ones to support you. Some intensivists have become infected themselves, and we hope their recovery goes well. It is with extreme sadness that we have heard that some of our colleagues have not survived their COVID illness. As representatives of the Belgian intensive care community, we would like to extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to their family, friends, and colleagues. At the next SIZ meeting, we intend to organize a moment of commemoration.
As you are aware, our annual SIZ meeting, scheduled June 19th, has been cancelled. We have rescheduled the meeting to Friday, December 18th, 2020, under the condition that congresses are allowed by then, and that it is safe to organize a meeting. In case an in person meeting is not possible, an online event will be organized as alternative. This rescheduling has some practical implications:
- The December SIZ meeting will have a different program, probably with mainly Belgian speakers.
- Elections for new board members will be postponed. Seven positions in the SIZ board are open for election or re-election: 2 Dutch- and 3 French-speaking positions open for all SIZ members, and 1 Dutch- and 1 French-speaking position only open for non-academic SIZ members. We will announce the date for candidacy after the summer, and depending on whether the SIZ meeting will be live or in-person, elections will be organized at the meeting or by mail/online.
- Abstracts for the SIZ meeting could have been submitted until April 20th, as announced on the website. However, in view of the exceptional times, we have decided to extend the deadline to June 30th. Abstracts will be peer reviewed, and as such can be accepted for the professional title. It is unlikely that we will be able to organize poster presentations this year, but submitted abstracts will be published on the SIZ website, unless the author objects because of confidentiality of the research data. The abstract award ceremony for the best abstracts is postponed to the meeting in December.
- We have received a couple of PhD projects for the SIZ award 2020, for which the deadline has been closed. The award will be announced end of June, and the award ceremony is postponed to the meeting in December.
In case of additional questions or requests, do not hesitate to contact the SIZ at firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a lot of respect and recognition for our work in the population. Our discipline, intensive care medicine, receives a lot of well-deserved positive attention now. At the same time, a number of weaknesses of our healthcare system have been exposed. It is clear that the complex organization of our small country is a serious problem for the management of a crisis. The SIZ will continue to strive for the promotion of the best possible care administered to patients admitted to intensive care units in Belgium, which is our mission statement. As we did during the crisis, we will interact with policy makers to ensure an optimal organization of ICU care for the future.
We hope we can all have a normal summer, without a second peak. You all deserve this.
The SIZ board