Opinion | Patient Care

By Brandon Sawalich

Helen Keller famously said, “Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic I have heard the question, “Are hearing aids essential?” When posing this question, I suggest taking out the word “aid” and asking it again: “Is hearing essential?” 

For those with hearing loss, it can be difficult to stay engaged, perform their job, or be there for their family and friends. They are present but separated by an invisible barrier. People need to be connected to their loved ones and to their community.  

We already knew hearing loss causes loneliness. Now, add these trying times and the fear that comes from not being able to hear a news broadcast or participate in a family discussion about important topics. Fortunately, hearing healthcare professionals have the unique ability to reassure patients in an uncertain time. All through better hearing.

During a crisis, it’s more important than ever that people stay connected. Hearing healthcare professionals know this is not as simple as buying a cheap device online. That misses the most important part of the process: the expertise and care of the hearing healthcare professional. 

Right now, current hearing aid wearers need repairs, or they need their hearing professional or audiologist’s help to get them back online. There are also individuals realizing the importance of better hearing during this difficult time and who want to be fit with their first hearing aid. But how do we address these urgent demands safely?

Hearing healthcare professionals must adapt to a world with Covid-19. They must begin to provide care in a different, but responsible, way. Patients need to know they are in a safe space and that the hearing professional is there to help them. 

Showcase updated safety and cleanliness practices. Limit the number of people in your office and use personal protective equipment. Continue to practice social distancing, and use common sense. Your patients need to know that their safety is your number-one concern.

For weeks, businesses have been quiet while people stay home and wait to see what’s next, but hearing loss won’t go away, and neither will the patients who need help. Hearing healthcare professionals must responsibly adjust to the current circumstances while continuing to lead with their hearts and caring for patients. It’s important that people with hearing loss have someone to go to for help.

In these unprecedented times when everyone is debating what is and isn’t essential, I say this: You, the hearing professionals, have always been essential, and you always will be essential. What you provide is needed now more than ever. You are the gateway to peace of mind and connection for so many people. Show that you care, and help those who need help. Hearing health is a necessity, and better hearing can never be compromised.


This article is adapted from a blog column published by the author on LinkedIn on April 24, 2020 and appears here with permission.

Brandon Sawalich

About the author: Brandon Sawalich is President of Starkey Hearing Technologies, Eden Prairie, Minn, and has been working in hearing healthcare for 26 years.