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Defining Essential Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Prasanth Pattisapu, Sean S Evans, Anisha R Noble, Susan J Norton, Henry C Ou, Kathleen C Y Sie, David L Horn
Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery 2020, 163 (1): 91-93
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COVID-19 is a rapidly growing global pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus. With no vaccine or definitive treatment, public health authorities have recommended a strategy of "social distancing," reducing individual interaction, canceling elective procedures, and limiting nonessential services. Health care providers must determine what procedures are considered "elective," balancing risk of treatment delays with that of coronavirus exposure to patient, family, and providers. Given critical periods for language development and the long-term impact of auditory deprivation, some audiologic and otologic services should be considered essential. In this article, we describe the experience of a quaternary referral pediatric hospital in Seattle, the epicenter of COVID-19 in the United States, and share strategies for risk minimization employed by Seattle Children's Hospital. We hope that this work can be a reference for other centers continuing care for children who are deaf and hard of hearing during the COVID-19 and future resource-limiting crises.

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