Hearing Vibes: Hearing During Hospital Emergencies

Maria Menconi, Ed.D.

As we travel on the journey through the COVID-19 pandemic, it becomes quickly apparent that a person with a hearing loss who goes to the hospital during crisis times could face challenges. This is the issue I’d like to talk more about in this article. First, I need to let you know that, in addition to the cancellation of the Peer Discussion Group for Better Hearing April meeting, we also will be cancelling our May meeting and our speaker, Audiologist Dr. Amanda Kester. It is our hope to reschedule her once all facilities in SaddleBrooke are up and running again and we are all free to gather and socialize together. We are unsure at this time whether our summer meetings will be held, but will publish dates, times, and locations once we know for sure.

Normal hospitalizations usually provide excellent accommodations for those with hearing loss, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, this may not be the case. Therefore, should you be hospitalized, it’s very important that you be prepared to advocate for yourself under what may be extraordinary conditions. Doctors and nurses will most likely be speaking to you through masks and possibly from a distance, so it’s best to have your cell phone and charger with you so that they can text message you with important information. In addition, you should have a list of your medications, any adaptive technology you need, your hearing aids, chargers or batteries, and, optimally, a sign that can be posted at your bed explaining your hearing loss. Remember, family members may not be able to visit you or come into the facility, so you should be prepared with everything you think you will need. You also may be working with volunteers or medical personnel from other facilities who won’t be familiar with your location, so the more self-sufficient you are, the more successful you can be. If you would like more information about this issue, here is a link from the Hearing Loss Association of America with more explanations and suggestions: www.hearingloss.org/communication-access-recommendations-hospitals-covid-19.

Please know that if any of us who participate in the Peer Discussion for Better Hearing can assist you in some way during this time, we are happy to do so within the framework of suggested social distancing and safety precautions. If you have questions or would like more information, contact Jennifer Jefferis at [email protected] or 360-909-6212, or Dick and Judy Kroese at [email protected] or 520-360-5789. We are all thinking of you during these challenging and unusual times, wish you good health and happiness, and look forward to seeing you post-COVID-19!