President's Message: Stronger Together

Author: Deb Abel, Au.D.

As I write this in early April, the world is changing in ways only an Orwellian novel could read. Just a month ago, students were anxiously awaiting the completion of their 4th year assignments and planning graduation parties to celebrate becoming Doctors of Audiology. The audiology community was making plans to congregate at the American Academy of Audiology Conference in New Orleans, and ADA volunteers were making visits to Capitol Hill to discuss the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act with Congressional staff and Members of Congress.

Instead, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted these activities, and our entire lives, in ways that we could not have imagined. Some of you are sick or have loved ones who have become ill or passed away from this virus. Some of you have had to close your doors as required by your state and local governments. Some of you have maintained a limited schedule, and some of you are serving your patients with drive up services and drop boxes, or via telehealth. Some of you are working from home while teaching school for your children, and some of you are not working at all. Whatever you are doing today, it is likely vastly different than what you could have imagined, just one month ago.

ADA leaders and staff are committed to using whatever resources we have available to assist members during this unprecedented time. While you may be physically distancing, please know that you are not alone. We are together. First and foremost, rely on your ADA community as a place of support and solidarity. With the help of members and volunteers, ADA has developed clinical, professional, and business resources to help you make sense of the CARES Act, telehealth options, and state-by-state resources related to national and state clinical and operating guidelines.

As we are all tasked with making tough decisions every day to “flatten the curve” to stop the spread of COVID-19, during this uncertain time, we will all work together to make the best decisions for ourselves, our practices, and those whom we serve and love with the information available. There will be loss of many things, including many lives. I encourage you to focus your time and energy on the things that matter most, including your health and wellbeing. And, please let me and the ADA team know if we can help you navigate any challenge to make you or your practice whole again.

Finally, I would like to take a moment to remember a dear friend and our collaborative colleague, Neil DiSarno, PhD, who recently passed away after a long and valiant battle with cancer. This gentleman and gentle man had an easy smile and exuded a sense of warmth when you saw him. In his role with ASHA, I had the chance to work with him on several professional issues over the years. He was one of THE most collaborative and kindest audiologists I have had the honor of knowing. I am sure that those of you who knew him will agree. It was all about the profession for him and we can honor him by reflecting on a life that truly impacted students and colleagues, and of course, the profession that he loved. Rest in peace, Neil.

Thinking of you all, with all the challenges we have facing us in the weeks and months ahead. May you find the strength in what is important. May we find the strength, resolve and fortitude from each other. We are stronger together.