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Hearing well in health care visits is a new challenge

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

Carolyn Stern, Asst. Director of Outreach and Strategic Initiatives

By Carolyn Stern, MBA

Assistant Director of Outreach and Strategic Initiatives

Carolyn Stern, MBA

As my routine health care appointments were cancelled a few months ago due to the Covid-19 shutdown, initially, it felt like a fun break from always being “so responsible” for keeping myself healthy. At the same, I felt uneasy because it’s been ingrained to never miss important preventative visits and screenings. While staying safe from Covid was a high priority, I wondered, as the weeks turned into months, how much longer I could put these visits off.

Once Covid cases subsided in my region and medical offices started opening again, I re-scheduled these visits with some trepidation, worried I might get exposed. However, as a person with hearing loss, I quickly learned I had to deal with a new issue, specifically, managing communication during these visits now with masks, PPE and new procedures.

Pre-pandemic communication was mostly a non-issue

Dctor consulting with a patient

My initial visits post-pandemic left me unsettled

Doctor and patient wearing face masks

Then, on the way out, with phones ringing in the background at the receptionist desks, I could not hear the staff person with her mask on even with a few repeats. I left frustrated, thinking, “I’m NEVER going back.” This whole experience caught me off guard and made me realize I would need to re-think future visits to ensure my access to effective communication.

Dr. Rennert’s valuable guidance

Dr. Nancy Rennert
Dr. Nancy Rennert

Determined to make things better for myself, I started reflecting on what was in my control and what could I try out and implement for the next group of upcoming appointments. I also discussed these challenges with colleague Dr. Nancy Rennert, a nationally recognized medical leader who also has two cochlear implants. She praised me for not putting off my health care – as nearly 50% of Americans have reported doing (see study) – and was immediately empathetic, seeing the issue from both sides, as a provider and a consumer of health care. She provided unique and helpful insider tips and suggestions that I found made a big difference for me.

Tips and strategies in CHC video

At CHC, we want to make sure our clients continue to take care of their health care and at the same time learn how best to ensure optimal communication during those visits with masks and other new procedures.

In response to this need, please view our video Health Care, Hearing Loss and Communication Challenges: Taking Charge in 2020 and Beyond – a dynamic discussion about our changing health care system and how to navigate it with a hearing loss. We will include perspective and guidance from patients and Dr. Nancy Rennert, a physician who uses two cochlear implants.

Learn insider tips and strategies to access effective communication during your virtual and in-person appointments, including what to say and do when things don’t go well or as planned. The video covers a range of accessibility tools, technology and smartphone apps and will detail real-world scenarios you can use in different situations to optimize your health care experience.

Real-time captioning and ASL interpreter provided.

We want to hear from you

We’d love to know what’s been your experience returning to your health care visits with a hearing loss? What has communicating with clinicians and medical staff been like as a person who is hard of hearing or deaf? What’s gone well or what do you wish you could change? Do you have any questions for Dr. Rennert? We want to hear from you.

51 views2 comments


Madam Sara
Madam Sara
May 31

Good health care is an important aspect of life, because it directly affects each person's quality of life and longevity. Therefore, I hope that you will continue to come for follow-up appointments as scheduled slither io by your treating doctor.


Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey
May 28

I sincerely appreciate everything you have done for me. I'm grateful for all of the reading instructions you provided. By recognizing wordle and addressing these challenges, healthcare providers can ensure that all patients receive the care and information they need, even in the context of a pandemic.

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