Can audiologists protect us and themselves from virus?

My Audi’s office is quite small so my wife and I have hesitated to visit for readjustments. Being immunosuppressed, I am particularly afraid.
Is this fear justified? How are others dealing with this situation?

Being immunosuppressed certainly adds a degree of risk. I feel it’s pretty safe if both parties are wearing masks. Anecdotally, there were a pair of hairdressers who were (unknown at the time) positive and wore masks and had no transmissions to any of their clients.

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My hearing aid audi office is secured. We’re required to fill out a questionnaire and have temperature taken prior to being permitted entry. There is hand sanitizer everywhere. The team has masks, shields, and gloves. They sanitize the rooms between patients. I think they’re only allowing two patients at a time (they have several patient rooms and multiple booth/REM rooms).

My CI audi office on the other hand, they’re gloved, masks and/or face shields (depending on patient need), no temperature checks, still have the questionnaires, have hand sanitizer, feels like a normal patient load the times I’ve been in but I’ve only been going there since COVID.

Our OBGYN office for my wife, they’re masked, gloved, they’re limiting the patient load, they have questionnaires, no temperature checks (unless they’ve changed it since they barred anyone other than patients from being in the space), only the patient is allowed in.

The OBGYN and my CI audi are both in larger buildings; the hearing aid audi is in a single story space in an office strip mall.

No one in any of these offices has had a case so I’m comfortable with these precautions. I think it’s possible to keep patients safe successfully, is what I’m getting at.

Are they triaging for Covid ahead of your appointment?

Have they taken steps in their office to minimise visitors?

Do they make you wear a mask?

Do you wash your hands on your way in?

Have changes been made to the office to minimise transmission?

Are they fully PPE’d up when you visit?

Are all surfaces wiped down between every client?

Etc.

That’s how you risk assess you decision.

I agree with most of the above. I’m in a similar situation and doubt my dentist’s adherence to reality. On the other hand I just had eye surgery that had been put off since spring. For my surgery they required a COVID test, everybody is wearing masks all the time* and no visitors with patients unless absolutely necessary. Patients wait in their vehicles for a text, rather than in the waiting room. Building doors are left open when possible. These are the signals that they are taking things seriously.

I have seen online similar types of things for other types of appointments (dentists mainly because that’s what I’ve been researching), less the COVID test of course.

GB

  • I have seen an alarming number of seniors that can’t seem to pull their mask over their nose. This is inexcusable in an otherwise well functioning adult.

Well as I under stand it if you buy a roger pen or select before entering your Audi office you get a free mask and face shield. Seems Phonak is willing to spend a few pennies on virus protection to get a few more $$$ Roger sales.

No infection control is 100%. Our clinic is doing everything it can, but I would still not advise an older, immunocompromised individual to come in if they could avoid it given a mortality rate of, what, ~14% if you are over 70 and have a history of heart disease? I’m not sure what it is for each idividual factor. Still, that’s not a lottery I’d want to play. Can you access remote services? Can you just pick up supplies or have your hearing aids cleaned without going in? I’ve done adjustments outside of the clinic, given that the outdoors looks to be about 20x safer. How can you progressively manage your risk?

A good hearing test cannot currently be done remotely. All the remote testing solutions have considerable limitations. If you’ve had a test within a few years and have not noticed much change, now is probably not the time. Wax removal cannot be done remotely, but attempting to manage wax at home for a while before going in might be a good idea. Most other services can be done with low or no contact, they might just be slower and more annoying.

The number of cases in your area would also play into your risk-benefit calculation.

Our province recommendations require audiologists to wear surgical masks but patients to only wear cloth face coverings, and man some of the face coverings I’ve seen are a load of crap–huge gaps above and below. If you’re looking to protect yourself, at the very least, find yourself a mask that fits properly.

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Thank you very much for reinforcing my reluctance to go into my hearing center at this time, as that description pretty much fits me to a T. For whatever reason, my custom Phonak molds with canal locks keep slipping loose. Maybe because I lost some weight staying home all these months. So I am going to continue to just keep checking these molds and pushing them back into place for the duration. I read of one writer who was told to try coating them with Liquid Skin in the meantime but that does not sound like something i would want to put inside my ear canals.

Phonak probably has your impression on file. You could ask your clinician what would be involved in just asking for them to be remade a bit more snuggly to see if that resolves the problem before doing an in-person appointment for an EMI. It’s not ideal, but it might fix the problem with just a curbside visit. The other option would be to consider adding a skeleton lock with the remake–more visible in the ear, but I’ve had more people electing for them to get some increased stability for their hearing aids during mask wear.

Then, consider the things Um Bongo already mentioned. What’s the infection protocol like in the clinic? What’s the case rate in your are? An EMI appointment is pretty quick, which makes it safer than a full test and discussion. I haven’t done one of those in the parking lot and would feel uncomfortable about it, but if I were at a location that had, say, a screened off back porch area, I might be perfectly happy to support a patient request to do it outside.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m over-concerned at this point. We’ll only know for sure in retrospect. My mother has more of an “everyone dies from something” attitude, although she takes reasonable precautions. My father, a retired physician who feels some guilt about being unable to return to work during this war, has decided that he will not burden his past colleagues by becoming sick and is very strict about infection control.

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Nothing is perfect. But a lot of places have reopened and are practicing safe procedures as recommended by their states dept of health. If a dentist can reopen safely I would think an audi would be pretty safe. Just check and see what their procedures are

I’m being VERY cautious.

  • Remote and mail use where possible.

  • No dewaxing, no REMs.

  • Video otoscope rather than handheld where possible.

  • If I must see people face-to-face, do as much offline before they arrive and keep the appt very short.

  • Full PPE usage

  • Handover of spares & repairs outside or in foyer.

I am not young and have a neurological condition, so I am not keen on getting COVID-19.

My clients are generally in medium to high risk groups so they need to be very cautious too.

I can’t think of anything worse than catching COVID-19 and then passing it on to several clients.

One or more of us might not make it.

Also, COVID-10 can do a lot of damage even if you survive.

Sure, I can do perform a full PPE theatre to reassure myself and clients - but it’s slow, clumsy and doesn’t encourage person-to-person communication.

Also, lockdowns seem to be coming and going, so I and/or my clients may not be allowed to leave home.

In view of all this my focus is making remote support work well rather than turn my practice into a PPE fortress.

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Seriously? Quit being the problem. Be the solution.

Bill Bellichek wore his mask upside down throughout the game last night in Seattle. People can be idiots. All you can do is use your own common sense. You can’t force people to wear masks, let alone wear them properly. If you’re not comfortable where you are, go elsewhere. Most places have signs posting exactly what their policy is. If they’re not enforcing those policies then let them know and then leave. Yeah it’s frustrating but there’s only so much you can do

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If your hearing aids are fairly recent models you may have the capability of remote adjustments.

In the “BIG” picture member98, there are probably way more places you visit during your normal week that have a higher risk of virus exposure then your friendly audiologist office. Last I checked an audiologist office was not up their with grocery stores, beauty saloons, doctors offices, dentist offices, gas stations, bus stops, bar drinking, church service, pool parties, Trump rallies, etc.

In other words take a “chill pill” and visit your audi with mask on. And guess what - your friendly Audi will also have a mask on and probably a face shield. But if your still worried about catching the coronavirus at your Audi’s office, just remember you probably have a higher chance of getting in a car accident and dying on the drive to have your ears checked, then catching a cold, flue or coronavirus at Audi land.

This is what keeps me up at night. My family members are hanging out with eachother but I still distance. None of them are public facing. I’m at the highest risk of giving it to one of them, and at the highest risk of taking it from one of them to give to one my my patients. So even though a certain small social circle is allowed where I am, I don’t really know how to make that decision.

He indicated that he is using appropriate PPE. He just prefers keeping things remote where possible to avoid the constant PPE. Remote is preferred practice during this time anyway.

Grocery stores are huge with pretty good ventilation and you don’t spend a lot of time there in close contact with anyone. I’d feel safer in a grocery store than in a doctor’s office right now, although express pick-up has been working very well.

I won’t go to most of those other places. Happily, if I die in a car accident, it’s just me and the other guy.

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Yep.

However, in a practice we can see several people a day, close up, each and every day.

You may also have several staff in the practice, each doing different tasks, with different levels of skill.

The safety system is only as safe as its weakest link : it only takes one careless staff member or one careless client or one highly infectious individual (staff or client) or one equipment failure or one unnoticed risk area to lead to an infection spread.

Maybe not on Day One - but perhaps on Day 72 when it’s close to closing time and it’s pouring with rain and a client brings in a fidgety kid and one of your staff has taken the day off and then the phone rings and you become distracted …

To be frank, the New Normal cannot involve fortress practices and endless use of PPE.

Throw in the on & off lockdowns, and many clients refusing to leave home and you end up with empty expensively rebuilt practices.

However much we want to go back to the way it was, it’s not going to happen.

In the UK Sept all audiologists had to renew their 2-yearly registration … and it seems that 20% - 30% decided not to, and have left the industry.

I assume they can see that it’s going to be effectively impossible to trade normally for many months.