ATLANTA—SECO International, host of the leading continuing education meeting for optometrists and allied health care ophthalmic professionals, held its annual Congress here from April 28 to May 2. The event was the first major optometry meeting of 2021, and also the first hybrid event for SECO. In an announcement, SECO said its organizers rose to the challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and evolved the historic meeting’s offerings to include an in-person component in Atlanta, as well as a virtual attendance option.

“With the unprecedented year we have experienced in our profession, we knew that it was especially important that we come together as a community, and we knew that we’d have to go about that in a different way,” Max Raynor, outgoing president of SECO International, said. “By adopting a hybrid model and enhanced safety protocols, we were able to provide meaningful opportunities at a critical time for our profession—opportunities to learn about new best practices, connect with colleagues and find solutions for our changing needs.”

SECO said the result was a successful, world-class event that opened participation to a global audience of eyecare professionals, at a time when most international travel was prohibited. SECO realized a +371 percent increase in the total number of sessions sold, which is attributed to the new virtual offering as well as a noticeable increase in the number of CE hours taken by in-person attendees.

While overall attendance at the Atlanta event was lower than years prior (as anticipated, due to the ongoing pandemic) on-site participation was at an all-time high. Attendees safely engaged in more face-to-face interactions with exhibitors and colleagues and spent time in the exhibit hall each day. 
SECO also noted that early feedback from exhibitors and participants has been overwhelmingly positive, largely due to the enhanced safety procedures that were implemented—including daily health screenings, temperature checks, face mask requirements and the stringent processes for cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention employed by the Georgia World Congress Center, under its GBAC STAR facility accreditation.

“Our organization had to pivot to meet the needs of our members and stakeholders, and—because of the ongoing support of our members, attendees, industry partners and exhibitors, volunteers and staff—we were able to do so,” said Richard Durocher, OD, who is the incoming president of SECO International. 
“As we continue to chart a course for SECO, we will stay mindful of the changes the pandemic has presented over this past year and look for more opportunities to evolve, in order to better serve our community, advance our organization’s mission and continue our success for the next 100 years.”

During the House of Delegates session, the following new Officers were sworn in: 
  • Richard Durocher, OD, president (Tenn.)
  • Christine Cook, OD, president elect (Va.)
  • Michelle Cooper, OD, vice president (S.C.)
  • Horace Deal, OD, treasurer (Ga.)
  • Tim Barry, OD, secretary (La.)
  • Max Raynor, OD, immediate past president (N.C.)