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For most patients, listening for a name called from across a room or hearing someone speak in a low tone about a sensitive medical matter doesn’t present a problem. For people who experience hearing loss, however, these difficulties are ever present. “Patients with hearing loss face these challenges in any clinic, but they are more prevalent in an ENT (ear, nose and throat) clinic because patients come to us to treat those conditions,” explains Kathy Brewer, senior clinical audiologist and head of the audiology section with the UW Department of Surgery.

To help remedy some of the issues patients with hearing loss face in a clinic environment, the Otolaryngology (ENT) Clinic at the UW Health Clinical Science Center, 600 Highland Avenue, will install a communication device that will allow reception and clinic staff to better communicate with patients with hearing loss. The clinic will use funds it was granted through the Friends of UW Hospital and Clinics’ grant program.

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The Otolaryngology (ENT) Clinic will install a hearing loop system, which transmits sound from a microphone directly to a patient’s hearing aid or cochlear implant through telecoil technology. Telecoil systems significantly reduce background noise for hearing device wearers and are commonly used in public spaces like airports, places of worship and concert halls to enhance the wearer’s ability to hear what they want to hear. The system will essentially relay communication from a microphone directly to a patient’s hearing aid.

A single loop is currently in use at the clinic check-in desk and at the otolaryngology clinic at 1 South Park. Joanne Anderson, otolaryngology clinics manager, expects the loop system to be fully functioning at the Clinical Science Center sometime this spring.

The Friends of UW Hospital and Clinics grant program backs patient services not funded through the hospital’s normal operating budget. In 2013, the Friends program awarded $60,000 to fund 23 grants. Grant amounts vary, usually ranging from $200 to $10,000 or more. Hospital personnel who want to submit a Hospital Services Grant to the Friends can visit www.friendsofuwhc.org for details. Applications for the 2014 grant cycle are due on October 1; grants are awarded in December.

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