An Address from ArSHA’s outgoing President, Melanie Moore, Au.D., CCC-A
As my term as ArSHA’s President draws to a close, I am compelled to share how amazed I am by the entire ArSHA Board and every committee member. Trying to juggle and reinvent work and family obligations is hard enough without choosing to volunteer ‘spare time’ during this incredibly challenging year. Their dedication to the audiology, SLP, and SLPA communities in Arizona is astounding and it has been an honor to have had the opportunity to steer this ship.
I would also be remiss in not taking a moment to share how some of my fellow audiologists in ArSHA were tackling patient care during the height of the pandemic. In a profession that does not lend itself to virtual evaluation and treatment it has been inspiring to watch the passionate audiologists of our state step up to find creative ways to continue to serve Arizonans. Last July, in the first Audiology Committee meeting of the new board year, the group discussed what they faced and how they were managing everything, and I continue to think back on that conversation almost a year later:
A school-based provider stood in the driveway of her students’ homes talking parents through how to use an FM/DM system with their kiddo’s hearing aids. She had sanitized and individually bagged the equipment for each student. Her car held a makeshift hearing aid lab and she changed earmold tubing and performed troubleshooting on hearing aids outside in the sun.
A university-based provider sat in front of his computer trying to figure out how to ensure SLP graduate students were going to be able to receive the in-person audiology clinical hours they needed going forward. He worked closely with placements and students to interpret and ensure that the evolving CDC guidelines could be followed.
A private-practice provider worked to rearrange the schedule to allow only one patient in the lobby at a time to keep senior citizens safe. She worked to find plexiglass, sanitizing supplies, and clear masks to add to the practice. Hearing aids were picked up or delivered to patient’s cars.
A VA-based provider was limited to only seeing patients virtually. She often spent half of the time allotted for each virtual appointment patiently walking a non-technically inclined, hard-of-hearing veteran through downloading and installing an app that allows for virtual visits to take place.
An ENT-based provider in an office limited to urgent and emergent cases went downstairs to pick up hearing aids to troubleshoot from patients in their cars. Clear masks were backordered so she found patterns in an audiology Facebook group and sewed masks out of t-shirts that had clear vinyl windows in the middle so that patients could see the mouths of herself and her colleagues.
These folks were representative of their peers throughout the state. In addition, there were pediatric clinicians trying to figure out how to see kiddos safely, newborn hearing screening programs struggling to obtain inpatient and outpatient screenings and not lose track of families for follow up, preschool hearing screening programs knowing they would miss a year’s worth of kiddos and hoping those with late-onset losses will be found somewhere else, and audiologists unable to perform vestibular evaluations and knowing that patients with debilitation symptoms would not be evaluated and treated in a timely manner.
I was one of the ENT-based audiologists taking hearing aids from patients in their cars. I recently saw one of those patients back in person and she thanked me for what I had done for her last summer and said that she did not think that anyone else would have done that. I told her that, without question, every audiologist I knew would provide that service in a heartbeat. I have also experienced that tenacity of the audiologists mirrored in the SLPs and SLPAs of our state. I am proud to be a member of the audiology community in Arizona and eternally grateful to have been allowed to serve all three professions over the last year.
Melanie L. Moore, Au.D., CCC-A
2020 – 2021 President, Arizona Speech-Language-Hearing Association