2020 Ep. 11 Keeping the Conversation Going

Dale Johnson: Thank you for putting us into your Saturday morning. This is Dale Johnson on KFOR FM 103.3, 1240 AM. Hopefully your self isolation is going well with everything going on around us in our world. For the next few minutes we will communicate remotely with Dr. Sandra Miller from Complete Hearing. Every week we talk about your hearing needs and we are exercising social distancing. Dr. Miller is at home this morning and I’m here in the KFOR studios and by the way, thank you Dr. Miller for participating and being vigilant in your practice and the communicating over the phone this morning.

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.: Well, good morning Dale. Thank you so much. I appreciate what you are doing at your business as well and I think it’s important that we are good community members and we’re doing the best we can to, as they say, flatten the curve.

Dale Johnson:  You can go to complete-hearing.com for much more of what we have to talk about today and of course you can always find more on the podcast site of complete-hearing.com. All right, social distancing. You’re not in the studio. People are communicating over the phone. There’s Zoom, there’s other types of teleconferencing on the internet. Let’s talk about that social distancing. What does it mean for an audiologist?

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.: It’s such a great question. I would tell you as an audiologist and our practice in specifically is we really have spent a lot of time following what is our governing agencies recommending in terms of who we are as a profession and in what we do every day. Obviously when we work with a patient we are touching you in terms of looking in your ears and really staying close to you in terms of being not necessarily six feet away. And so when we talked about making some restrictions at our practice, we just talked about are we one of those life-sustaining medical providers? And that answer was definitely no, but we did want to make sure that we were there for our patients when it came to keeping them out of having to maybe going to the ER or having them going to an urgent care facility if there was something we could do to help them with that.

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.: We still wanted to be open for that. So currently our lobby is going to be closed, but we are still seeing patients for emergent needs or providing several services that we can talk about maybe a little more as we go through this conversation today. I think it’s so interesting that we’re talking about social distancing. And I looked up the definition and to be socially and just to create a physical barrier, but the problem is we’re such social people. And so I think that’s why people have such a hard time with social distancing. It’s such an unnatural thing I find, because we want to be engaging and we want to have conversation. And I think a lot of things that we’re talking to our patients currently about is how can we help you right now?

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.: Because if you’re home and you’re home with your entire family, that’s one thing. But if you’re home and your home alone, that’s a whole nother thing. And so what happens when we’re home is that we kind of get out of our routine and it becomes a little unsettling. And of course if you’re sitting in front of the television, you’re having a little bit more fear and anxiety and depression and anger and frustration or wherever you are on the spectrum of this. And so I think it’s really important that we talk about how to best spend our time at home. Because guess what people always say? Their excuse for something is, I don’t have time. And guess what you now have?

Dale Johnson: Nothing but time.

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.:  And so I think it’s such an interesting concept that now in many of us may be still working. There are people who are still working, thank goodness that we still can have people who’ve been worked from home or those people who are really out in the community or on the front lines of working through this coronavirus pandemic, that we have the ability to have people still out. And so I think the major thing I want people to take away from this new normal, I think that’s what we said today when we started our conversation before going on air is we have a new normal now and what are we supposed to do with that?

Dale Johnson:  With a lot of people at home, some at jobs, some not. Is it important to wear your hearing device at home? Because if it’s just you and if it’s just another loved one, it could be argued you don’t need to wear them. Is it important to wear them even in self isolation?

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.: Absolutely. So I think you brought up a great point is that some of my patients tell me, I only wear these when I leave in house. Well you need to continue to wear them every single day. And we talked about how your brain is like a muscle and you need to keep exercising that muscle. So having your hearing aides on is going to do three things for you when you’re at home. Number one is going to keep you engaged. And that means you’re just going to be able to still have good quality communication with those around you, especially if you’re quarantined with your family members, significant others. When you’re watching television or you’re listening to maybe some music or doing something like that, you want to make sure you can hear well and that the volumes comfortable for the rest of those around you. And again, it keeps your brain stimulated.

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.:  It’s important that even those subtle sounds in your house are important for your brain to continue to recognize. We don’t want you just tuning them out. And so we have found that, this is a time I would tell you, Dale, that we have a lot of care providers, I would call them family members who actually help take care of their, whether it’s a sibling or their parents, maybe they’re in a care facility of some kind, whether it’s a living community, independent living, assisted living, where they’re the ones who go in and take care of their significant others. And right now that’s being shut down. And so who’s going to take care of them and I’m in that now with my mom. She doesn’t live here but I love what’s happening in those facilities where they’re allowing the Facetime communication. Well Facetime communication doesn’t work if my mom isn’t able to hear me so when we talk about Skyping and we talk about Zoom and we talk about Facetime, the important thing is that those people can still continue to be able to hear.

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.:  Our goal as Complete Hearing is just to make sure that people know three things: we’re available for telehealth and that means we’re still answering our phones at Complete Hearing and if there’s something we need to address, we’re doing that via telehealth or just getting on the phone with either the patient or the provider to talk through what the issues might still be going on, so we are still accessible. That also means we are trying to reach out to our facilities we work with in terms of Eastmont or [inaudible 00:06:49] Pines or some of the living communities that we work with to say we are here for you. Here’s a video to teach you how to clean the hearing aide. Here’s a video to teach you how to troubleshoot this. So that they have some care within that facility of the workers who are still there. Because if the family member can’t get in to help them, who else is going to be there for them?

Dale Johnson: You can find information, complete-hearing.com. Back to the social distancing, six feet or more. Not having a hearing device. Is that a challenging distance for someone wearing a hearing device?

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.: I would tell you a couple of things. I think if they have a good hearing device and it fits well, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. We talk so much about face to face communication and knowing that you get so many things from visual cues. So if you’re six feet apart you have to think about, okay can the patient number one hear and what is their visual acuity like? And so those two things kind of go hand in hand. So I think the most important thing is that we’re looking at the person we’re talking to, even if it’s six feet away that we’re slowing down our speech rate. And if we do have to increase our voice a little bit because we are six feet away, that may be something to take into consideration.

Dale Johnson: We have changed the physical look of the radio station here. The front door is no longer open to you good listeners and we’re sorry for that. But these are the times in which we live. You mentioned that your front lobby, what other changes have you made to accommodate your customers at Complete Hearing?

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.:  Such a great question. So up until this week we were really doing a lot of, Oh my goodness, so much sanitizing and wearing masks and wearing gloves. And you know everything that the people are doing in those other health professions out there. At this point in time, Complete Hearing’s lobby is closed and so we are offering drop-offs and so we do have a box that is mounted outside our door where if you’re needing a repair, I myself am going to be going to the office and just picking those things up and repairing them and mailing out our supplies to our patients.

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.: So if you are a patient of Complete Hearing or you’re needing supplies, batteries, domes, filters, we are mailing them out and we don’t want you out and about if you don’t need to be. We also are providing some pickup for curbside so we’ll bring it out to you to your car. And then of course we are also providing telehealth to our patients as well. So lots of different avenues that we can still help you through this process. We think hearing honestly is vital and we believe that it is essential during this time when we are going to be either quarantined with maybe our family or we aren’t able to communicate as effectively as we did before that this is still a vital important role that we need to play as an audiology office.

Dale Johnson: In times like these, it is never more important to do your business with a local representative. I’m just thinking as you’re telling me about all of this, the drop box, the sending out information to clients, that’s something you are not likely to get from a big box store or online.

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.: I love that you said that. I would tell you that’s one thing that we are so concerned not only for of course our staff, but those who we serve and that can be anybody in the community, so I encourage patients out there who may be are a part of a clinic anywhere, whether it’s big box, online. The university did close before we didn’t asked us for our support, so we are definitely there for any patients out there. We don’t care what clinic you go to, who you belong to, where you bought your hearing aide. That’s why we’re providing these services is to make sure we get through this together and that we can provide this service to you to make sure things go well for you.

Dale Johnson: Here’s a question you may be as now that we’re communicating in a much different fashion. I always wear headphones, they’re not foreign to me, but some people now are having to communicate maybe wearing earbuds or headphones or they’re talking through their computers on the camera that’s provided on their laptops. The communication style is different. Hearing devices capable of handling this new way of communication?

Dr. Sandra Miller Au.D.:  It’s such a good question. I think it’s going to depend on what people are wearing for our users who maybe got hearing aides in the last three or four years, we have this ability, honestly, to have everything’s streamed right through the hearing aides, so if they’re on the phone, it goes right into hearing aides themselves, which is a beautiful thing. Not everybody has that capability. So I would recommend people put their phone maybe on speaker phone, and we talked about this ability now, I love that we live in a technology era where we can see people and so FaceTiming and Zooming and all of those things that we’re doing to get the visual is the added thing that people with hearing loss need right now. They need to be visually seeing people to not only use the lip reading cues, but boy, we are just so much more socially connected to each other when we can actually see other and the messages then don’t get as miscommunicated as they would maybe otherwise.

Dale Johnson: Now more than ever, it’s about service. You always receive that through Complete Hearing. complete-hearing.com is the website and listen to us every Saturday morning for The Conversation Starts Here.