WEBINAR SEP 30, 2020: Join us Wednesday, September 30th, at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) for Health Care, Hearing Loss and Communication Challenges: Taking Charge in 2020 and Beyond – a dynamic discussion about our changing health care system and how to navigate it with a hearing loss. We will include perspectives and tips from patients and a physician who uses two cochlear implants. Click to register.
By Carolyn Stern, MBA
Assistant Director of Outreach and Strategic Initiatives
As my routine health care appointments were cancelled a few months ago due to the Covid-19 shutdown, initially, it felt like a fun break from always being “so responsible” for keeping myself healthy. At the same, I felt uneasy because it’s been ingrained to never miss important preventative visits and screenings. While staying safe from Covid was a high priority, I wondered, as the weeks turned into months, how much longer I could put these visits off.
Once Covid cases subsided in my region and medical offices started opening again, I re-scheduled these visits with some trepidation, worried I might get exposed. However, as a person with hearing loss, I quickly learned I had to deal with a new issue, specifically, managing communication during these visits now with masks, PPE and new procedures.
Pre-pandemic communication was mostly a non-issue
Pre-pandemic, communication during routine health care visits was mostly a non-issue, particularly once I became bilaterally implanted. I could hear with ease in the quiet examination room and fully focus on the interaction and care. Occasionally, I would have to remind the clinician to face me rather than the laptop or ask for a repeat for clarification once or twice. With this memory in mind, the first round of appointments during this pandemic shocked me. Many things were different. Everyone was wearing a mask and I had difficulty hearing with background noise, especially higher-pitched voices.
My initial visits post-pandemic left me unsettled
The initial health care visits left me unsettled and worn out. One provider, for example, thinking he was being helpful removed his mask so I could see his face and read his lips, but he did this without my permission. To my surprise, I was hearing him well enough through his surgical mask with an occasional request for a repeat. Although I asked the physician to keep his mask on, he kept insisting it would be better for me if it was off. On the one hand, I appreciated his willingness to accommodate, but at the same time, I was appalled he wouldn’t honor my request. People with disabilities know their needs best.
Then, on the way out, with phones ringing in the background at the receptionist desks, I could not hear the staff person with her mask on even with a few repeats. I left frustrated, thinking, “I’m NEVER going back.” This whole experience caught me off guard and made me realize I would need to re-think future visits to ensure my access to effective communication.
Dr. Rennert’s valuable guidance
Determined to make things better for myself, I started reflecting on what was in my control and what could I try out and implement for the next group of upcoming appointments. I also discussed these challenges with colleague Dr. Nancy Rennert, a nationally recognized medical leader who also has two cochlear implants. She praised me for not putting off my health care – as nearly 50% of Americans have reported doing (see study) – and was immediately empathetic, seeing the issue from both sides, as a provider and a consumer of health care. She provided unique and helpful insider tips and suggestions that I found made a big difference for me.
Tips and strategies in CHC webinar Sep 30
At CHC, we want to make sure our clients continue to take care of their health care and at the same time learn how best to ensure optimal communication during those visits with masks and other new procedures.
In response to this need, please join CHC September 30th, 6:30-7:30 p.m. (EDT), for Health Care, Hearing Loss and Communication Challenges: Taking Charge in 2020 and Beyond – a dynamic discussion about our changing health care system and how to navigate it with a hearing loss. We will include perspective and guidance from patients and Dr. Nancy Rennert, a physician who uses two cochlear implants.
Learn insider tips and strategies to access effective communication during your virtual and in-person appointments, including what to say and do when things don’t go well or as planned. This program will cover a range of accessibility tools, technology and smartphone apps and will detail real-world scenarios you can use in different situations to optimize your health care experience. Discussion followed by Q&A.
Real-time captioning and ASL interpreter provided.
We want to hear from you
In preparation for this webinar, we’d love to know what’s been your experience returning to your health care visits with a hearing loss? What has communicating with clinicians and medical staff been like as a person who is hard of hearing or deaf? What’s gone well or what do you wish you could change? Do you have any questions for Dr. Rennert? We want to hear from you.
Looking forward to connecting with you September 30th. Stay well, everybody!