Seeing a hearing professional during the COVID-19 pandemic

Hearing healthcare professionals provide essential services to those with hearing loss and related conditions. But COVID-19 has caused many people to delay pursuing non-emergency services including putting hearing healthcare on the back burner.

 

As restrictions begin to lift and we all start to venture out, safely resuming operations is on the top of everyone’s mind. Whether you receive hearing healthcare services at a large medical center or a small private practice in town, there are new rules of engagement being applied in every setting.

 

Local and state authorities and the CDC have provided a variety of recommendations for how to slow transmission of the disease and reduce the number of people who get sick until FDA- approved medications or vaccines are available. While we’ve all seen some measures implemented at places like the grocery store and restaurants, this article will share a few additional thoughts on what to expect as you consider getting back into the office to see your hearing healthcare professional.

 

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Expect new health and safety protocols

You can expect to see the implementation of new health and safety protocols. Many hearing healthcare professionals will now apply one or more of the following policies/procedures:

  • Lobbies may be closed, or the number of people allowed in the office may be limited. As a result, you may be asked to call the office from your car when you arrive and wait in your vehicle until being admitted to the office.
  • Loved ones may not be allowed to accompany you to your appointment. Some practices may provide a way for them to participate via video or phone call.
  • Plan to forgo handshakes or hugs.
  • Physical barriers like plexiglass dividers may be in place to help reduce contact with others.
  • Waiting and treatment rooms may be configured differently to ensure safe distancing.
  • You may be asked to complete a health questionnaire that probes how you are feeling and asks if you have been ill or have been experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19.
  • You may be required to have your temperature taken.
  • You may be asked to use a hand-hygiene station one or more times.
  • You may be required to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like face masks, face shields and/or gloves along with your hearing healthcare professional.
  • There may be new traffic flow patterns for movement inside the office.
  • Checkout procedures may be handled over the phone and payments, if applicable, may be restricted to credit cards.
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Ask about curbside and telehealth services

Keep in mind that it’s entirely possible you won’t need to go into the office at all to take care of certain matters. Some practices are offering curbside services or drop-off/pick-up options for hearing aid supplies, programming, troubleshooting and repairs. In addition, remote hearing aid programming is available with all Livio Edge AI, Livio AI and Livio hearing aids. This tool allows the professional to adjust your hearing aids from the safety of your home. To learn more about the Livio family of hearing aids click here.

What you can do

  • Call your hearing healthcare professional to discuss what you need, and they will let you know the best option for taking care of you. Many practices are no longer accepting walk-in visits due to the implementation of new health and wellness policies.   
  • Be as proactive as possible with health and safety protocols when going to the office. Use hand sanitizer, social distancing (> 6 feet) and wear a mask if you have one.
  • Be patient if your provider is running a little behind schedule. They are thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing every surface and point of contact after each patient visit.
  • Be sure to call ahead with any questions or concerns you have. Your hearing healthcare professional’s top priority it to provide everyone with a safe environment.

There’s no way to know how long these kinds of measures will need to be applied, and it’s possible that one or more of them may become part of the normal landscape moving forward.

 

Health and wellness are of paramount importance to everyone and knowing what to expect when you see your hearing healthcare provide should help allay any fears you have.

By Starkey Hearing Technologies blog

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