As practice owners grapple with how best to position their practices during the COVID-19 threat, a common discussion is the degree to which audiology is influential to the well-being of the patient population. According to Chad Ruffin, MD, people with hearing loss are a high-risk population from COVID-19.
First, the inability to communicate for listeners who are without hearing aids lends to communication issues and increased risk for medication and treatment errors.
Second, with the increase in social distancing, there is the likelihood that listeners with hearing loss will encounter greater loneliness, anxiety, and depression. A resulting outcome from the loneliness, anxiety, and depression is a weakened immune system, which increases the risk of catching COVID-19.
Lastly, most impaired listeners have less disposable income, placing them at increased risk for financial hardships, especially if the pandemic continues for an extended time period.
Given these threats, it’s important that audiologists continue to serve the needs of this population, without placing themselves, their staff, their families, other healthcare providers, and other patients at risk. In addition, because this situation continues to quickly evolve and new information constantly being provided, it is always important to check in with and follow your state and local government’s guidance.