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ASHA Voices: How COVID-19 is Changing Our Work Lives

by J.D. Gray
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illustration of a gourp of people wearing protective masks

In this episode, we talk with audiologists and SLPs throughout the country about the pandemic’s immediate and drastic effects on their work. From the Seattle area to New York City, they are facing significant challenges, but they are also rising to those challenges.

Read the transcript for this episode. 

Featuring voices of professionals in schools, private practice, academia, and health care, this episode delivers snapshots of what members are experiencing in various workplace settings, including skilled nursing facilities.

Before I can clock in, we have to go and take our temperature and record that. And then, if we’ve had any symptoms, we have to go talk to the infection control nurse, and she would, of course, just send us home.  —SLP Erin Carver, Seattle-area skilled nursing facility

We hear from Hallie Bulkin, who runs Little Sprout Therapy in Bethesda, Maryland, as the brick-and-mortar practice makes a sudden shift to telepractice. The transition was stressful for some of her SLPs, Bulkin says, and the reaction from her clients is also varied. Some were willing to make the change; others, less so.

Jasmin Davoodi is a school-based SLP in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Davoodi does not yet know if her school district will move to telepractice service delivery.

It’s been really tough ’cause a lot of parents have been emailing me, and they’re like, ‘What’s going on? Is there anything we should be doing at home?’
—Jasmin Davoodi, SLP, Los Angeles Unified School District

Also, school-based educational audiologist Carrie Spangler shares questions about supporting her students with hearing loss. And in academia, Central Michigan University assistant professor Katie Strong discusses the pandemic’s effects on the university and students, and describes going to an all-online format.

There’s a lot to navigate. Things like: students who are planning on graduating, second-year graduate students who need to have clinical clock hours and competencies, and certain numbers of weeks and internships per our own policies.

—Katie Strong, assistant professor, Central Michigan University

Need Support? Check Out ASHA’s Resources

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

Telepractice Resources During COVID-19

5 Steps to Get Started in Telepractice

COVID-19: Private Practitioners Report on Office Closures and Telepractice

Rounding out the episode is SLP Tami Altschuler,  clinical specialist in patient provider-communication at NYU Langone Medical Center.  She offers tips for SLPs on facilitating conversations when one person is wearing a medical mask, and describes ways COVID-19 intersects with her work.

We have a lot of patients who are already intubated. I had a situation [Friday] morning where I saw a patient [the day before] and then found out [on Friday] that he was pending test results for COVID. And then I had to wonder: Am I asymptomatic? And, is it possible that I transmitted the virus to him? Or, did he give it to me somehow? And so you go through this back and forth: Did I give it to him? Did he give it to me? … It turned out that the result was negative, and that’s great. But I feel like we’re going through this every day… and we’re very fearful that we could transmit the virus to our patients.

—Tami Altschuler

Recently, Altschuler helped develop free communication tools to aid conversations with patients who are using ventilators or other breathing tools. In a partnership with the United States Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication, the Patient-Provide Communication Forum released the tools here: patientprovidercommunication.org.

Though their experiences vary, these CSD professionals are united in their quick response to  COVID-19’s disruptions  to their work lives.

Meet our guests:
  • Erin Carver, MS, CCC-SLP, skilled nursing facility near Seattle, Washington
  • Carrie Spangler, AuD, CCC-A, Summit Educational Service Center, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
  • Jasmin Davoodi, MS, CCC-SLP, Los Angeles Unified School District, California
  • Hallie Bulkin, MA, CCC-SLP, Little Sprout Therapy, Bethesda, Maryland
  • Katie Strong, PhD, CCC-SLP, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant
  • Tami Altschuler, MA, CCC-SLP, clinical specialist in patient-provider communication, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City

To hear each episode as soon as it’s released, follow the ASHA Voices page on Leader Live or subscribe to the program with Apple PodcastsSpotify, or Google Play.

Questions or comments? Email us at podcast@asha.org. Or leave us a voicemail at 301-296-5804. We may include your comment in an upcoming episode.

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1 comment

Diane Paul March 28, 2020 - 5:32 am

Hi J.D.,
It was fascinating hearing the stories from SLPs and Auds and learning about how they are coping and modifying their services. Thanks for putting this together from your home studio.


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