A few days ago a cease fire was negotiated between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza area. As most around the world know, there has been continuing unrest in this part of the world for decades. In November, after months of being the target of rocket attacks by Palestinians in Gaza who continue to deny Israel’s right to exist as a country, Israel retaliated militarily.
Hearing Health Matters and Hearing International are not politically motivated, and we do not take sides in international conflicts. But occasionally a story arises out of conflict that offers an inspiration to all of us. Such is the case with the account that Dr. Limor Lavie, an Israeli audiologist, gives of how audiologists, in spite of politics and war, continue their work with the hearing impaired.
The following is a short description of a clinical day under missile attack written by Dr. Lavie that was passed on to Hearing International by our friends at Audiology Online. It demonstrates not only the humanity in what audiologists do, but also the spirit of our colleagues working under extremely difficult and potentially dangerous conditions.
A Regular Day in our
Audiology Clinic in Tel-Aviv
10:30 AM. One patient has just finished his hearing test and is now in the ABR room. In the other room an elderly couple – the man with a walker, his wife with a walking stick–are discussing hearing rehabilitation options with a young audiologist. Two secretaries are answering the phone and talking with patients in the waiting room. I enter my office with an 88-year-old patient who came to receive his new CIC hearing aids.
As we sit down we hear the alarm. Our clinic is on the 7th floor, the top of the building. It’s too dangerous to stay, but there’s not enough time to run to the underground shelter. We have 60 seconds to go at least two floors down, to the concrete stairs on the 5th floor, where it is safer. The woman with the walking stick and her husband with the walker hardly walk. Will they make it on time? How will the man be able to walk down the stairs?
We walk with them and also escort the 88-year-old patient, who also walks very slowly. The audiologist in the ABR room is very calm. Two days ago he was working in a clinic in Ashdod, a city in southern Israel, and experienced 20 alarms during one morning.
As I walk behind my patients I think about my 12-year-old daughter who is probably running now to the school shelter with her friends. I hurry back to the office to get my cell phone, so I will be able to talk with her.
We manage to get one floor down. People from other offices are already there. A few seconds later we hear two distant explosions. The “iron shield” knocked the missiles down. The instructions are to wait 10 minutes before we are allowed to leave our temporary shelter and go back to the clinic.
We guide our patients upstairs. In one room the audiologist starts to rub the patient’s skin to prepare him for the ABR. The elderly couple receives some more information on open fitting hearing aids. My patient wears his new hearing aids. He is very happy with them.
Limor Lavie, Ph.D., is a Clinical Audiologist, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Faculty of Social Welfare & Health Sciences, University of Haifa, Israel, Head, Mazorphone Speech and Hearing Institutes.