How Do I Communicate with Doctors, Nurses, and Staff at the Hospital During COVID- 19?

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, how will you be able to talk to doctors, nurses and others at the hospital? Going to the hospital will be very different during the pandemic.

In normal times, hospitals must give services that help you understand what is being said and are supposed to ask you what services you need. This might include in-person sign language interpreters, Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), lip-reading, written communications, hand-held amplification devices, captioning or CART, or speech-to-text apps.

Now, during the pandemic, most hospitals are seeing a large number of patients and often cannot provide the same services. Many hospitals will not allow in-person interpreters, family members, or visitors to come into the hospital. You may be alone for a long time when you are in the hospital.

Most doctors and nurses in hospitals now wear masks and gloves and may talk to you from behind a window or curtain, so it may be harder for you to understand them.

You have the right to decide on your care. This means you will need to know a few things and bring your own communication tools to the hospital during the pandemic.

Most importantly, remember to advocate for yourself in any medical setting.

Tell the hospital staff and your doctor’s staff repeatedly that you are hard of hearing.

Bring any Assistive Hearing Devices (AHD) you feel comfortable using, wear your hearing aids and/or CI’s, bring extra batteries, your smartphone or tablet to use for texting or apps for speech to text, bring your chargers for the technology, etc

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Tell staff what they can do to help you hear!

Use the Communication Assess Form (CAP) form found in the Guide for Effective Communications in Health Care.  https://www.hearingloss.org/hearing-help/communities/patients/   Copy and paste this link into your browser, then scroll down on the page to find both the full Guide for Effective Communications in Health Care and the CAP form which you can print. Once you fill it out you can make photocopies, or you can create your own form.

Give the CAP form to registration when you enter the hospital. Give the CAP form to your doctor, when your register at an outpatient facility, your dentist, routine exams. The CAP form speaks for you to tell the provider of your hearing loss and what they can do to help you hear.

Remember, when you advocate for yourself about your hearing loss, you are advocating for 48 million people in the United States who live with hearing loss.