Protecting Yourselves, Employees and Patients in the Clinic
Today is new for all of us. We recognize the unprecedented and extraordinary circumstances hearing care providers and all healthcare professionals face related to the growing concern about COVID-19. We care deeply about your health and well-being, as well as that of your staff, patients and your surrounding communities.
Yesterday we sent you an email outlining our belief in the importance of continuing to provide essential hearing healthcare services. Helping new and existing patients stay informed and connected is crucial. We suggest that you prioritize patients that are most in need of help and take steps to minimize exposure risk within your practice. As healthcare professionals, it is up to us to make well-informed decisions about our patients and practices.
We are actively monitoring updates from the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other sources. We will update our recommendations to you in a timely manner as new information becomes available.
Protecting Yourselves, Your Employees & Your Patients Within the Clinic
Starkey recommends that all clinics implement a patient screening process immediately. Ideally, this screening would be complete before a patient comes into your office. Calling to confirm a patient’s appointment provides an opportunity to do this screening in a gentle, calm and friendly manner. If a patient screening cannot be completed via phone prior to an appointment, it is recommended that the screening be done in-person at check-in, prior to the appointment itself.
The following patient screening questions reflect new CDC guidance:
- Do you have a history of recent international travel within the past 14 days? (Continue to check the CDC website for updated areas.)
- Do you have a fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath?
- Have you had close contact with any person, including healthcare workers, who is a lab-confirmed patient with COVID-19 within the past 14 days of symptom onset?
If a patient answers no to any of these screening questions, the final decision on whether and how to care for patients during this pandemic remains with you. However, below are a few considerations as you make these challenging decisions:
- See patients one at time. Ask them to wait in their cars until your office is clear of other patients.
- Meet patients in your parking lot to pick up and/or drop off hearing aids, batteries and other items.
- Whenever possible, use Hearing Care Anywhere (remote programming) to help patients with their hearing aids. Older technology also has T2 capability for remote programming.
- Clean and disinfect testing equipment, wash hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 sec. and use hand sanitizer in front of patients to reduce anxiety.
If a patient answers yes to any one of the screening questions outlined above, we suggest you implement the following guidelines:
- Remember that these are your patients; they should be treated with care and respect, and every effort should be made to maintain their privacy.
- Respectfully inform the patient of the need to reschedule their appointment for a minimum of 14 days later.
- Recommend that they call their healthcare professional as soon as possible if they have not already done so.
- Professionally and privately request the patient leave the facility.
Standard Practices for Virus Protection from the US Department of Labor
To protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses, follow these effective, sensible guidelines:
- Avoid close contact with those who have traveled to one of the CDC Level 2 or 3 designated risk areas.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue (not hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Refrain from touching your face to avoid transferring germs to your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (e.g., waiting areas, desks, pens, doorknobs, bathrooms etc.) using disinfecting spray or wipes.
- Refrain from using coworkers' phones, desks, offices, computers or other work tools and equipment. If you must use a coworker's equipment, consider cleaning it first with disinfectant.
- Eat healthy, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, exercise and relax.
- If you are in a high-risk category for complications (e.g., pregnant women, persons with asthma, etc.), please speak with your manager about the best ways to protect yourself or alternative work assignments.
Continued Support from Starkey
As mentioned above, our intent is to continue to share additional information with you as the situation develops. In the meantime, our customer service team and your retail marketing and sales team remain fully ready to assist you.
Please use the following resources for the latest information:
Starkey’s management team remains mobilized throughout this period, and we will act day-to-day to keep our commitment to serve you better than anyone else. The world is changing daily. We will not have all the answers, but we will work to have the best solutions with the information available. We remain dedicated to you, your patients and your communities as we navigate the path forward.
The entire Starkey team thanks you for your trust and loyalty.