HumanInsight The impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the functioning of the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program in Poland
Otolaryngol Pol. 2022 Jun 27;76(4):1-5. doi: 10.5604/01.3001.0015.9079.
The Newborn Hearing Screening Program has existed in Poland for almost 20 years. However, for the first time in the history of his activity, he had to deal with large logistic and staffing problems. The analysis compared the years 2020 and 2021 in terms of the functioning of centers that conduct audiological diagnostics of the Program during the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to obtain relevant information, a telephone survey was conducted at the beginning of 2022 with questions about the performance of standard activities related to the Program. Results In 2020, 60 centers conducting audiological diagnostics (66.67%) were suspended, and 30 were working under the sanitary and epidemiological regime (33.33%). In 2021, only 5 (5.26%) diagnostic centers with their headquarters in facilities transformed into so-called homonymous hospitals, dealing only with the treatment of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus, were suspended. Discussion The development of the pandemic and the related limitations around the world had a significant impact on the quality and scope of medical services provided. Many hospitals were quickly transformed into closed centers treating only patients with SARS-CoV-2. Audiological consultations take place in closed, soundproof rooms. Face-to-face contact was required for hearing assessment, fitting hearing aids, troubleshooting, and rehabilitation. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced audiology to modify existing practices. The use of telemedicine was increasingly preferred. In Poland, as all over the world, the scope of remote consultations has expanded, but due to technological and hardware limitations, audiological procedures remained in the sphere of direct contact with the patient. Conclusions In the first year after the announcement of the pandemic, significant difficulties were observed in the functioning of centers dealing with the diagnosis of children with suspected hearing loss. The appearance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus forced us to develop innovative methods of early diagnosis and treatment of children with hearing impairment, which resulted in the stabilization of the work of individuals in the following year.
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