‘What did you say, doctor?’
Does your hearing impairment create an unnecessary challenge when you come to the hospital?
A new device amplifies sound while reducing background noise and is in use at Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital, according to Cecilia Phelan-Stiles, MA, CMI, senior manager of HR Communications at Cape Cod Healthcare.
The Pocket Talker makes it possible for partially deaf patients or visitors to clearly hear what the staff and physicians are saying to them. It’s about the size of a deck of cards and can fit into a pocket or be attached to a hospital gown.
The unit, also known as a personal sound amplifying product (P.S.A.P.), has a small microphone and a pair of headphones.
“These are great units,” said Phelan-Stiles, who was instrumental in purchasing the tool, getting the support of hospital administration and distributing them.
They are available in the emergency room, inpatient units and ambulatory care/surgical suites at both hospitals.
Through her work with the deaf community and at the suggestion of a friend who is a trainer with the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hearing , Phelan-Stiles felt it would be a great help for hearing-impaired patients.
While the devices have just become available in the hospitals, Phelan-Stiles spoke about the difference it made recently when communicating with a woman in her 90s. She had given an in-service presentation to the physical therapists about interpreter services and showed them a Pocket Talker. The next day, one of the physical therapists called her and said she needed one for a patient she was working with on one of the floors. The patient had left her hearing aids at home and said that she didn’t like them because they gave her a ringing sensation in her years. Her nurses had to yell so she could hear them. Phelan-Stiles brought in a pocket talker, clipped the unit to the patient’s gown and turned it on.
The woman looked up at the nurse and said, “I can hear!”
“That moment almost made us cry,” said Phelan-Stiles. “It is such a simple tool.”
When she stopped by Falmouth Hospital to pass out the devices to the inpatient units, one of the nurses literally grabbed it from her hands and said she needed it for one of her patients who was hearing-impaired. The nurse was so grateful to be able to speak in a normal tone and the patient was relieved to be heard.
Another simple tool that is helping patients with impaired vision is a magnifier.