‘Worth their weight in gold’: Boston hospital breaking communication barrier with transparent masks

BOSTON (WHDH) - Brigham and Women’s Hospital is breaking barriers in the lines of communication between the deaf and hearing communities during the pandemic by distributing masks with transparent panels.

Interpreter James Wiggins demonstrated the new tool that is now being used to make sure everyone can get the important information they need.

“These have been proven to be worth they’re weight in gold for sure,” Wiggins said.

It’s a mask with a transparent window that allows patients to see the lips of a health care worker and better understand what they are saying.

“Unlike people who can hear, they don’t have that option,” Wiggins said. “So they’re able to hear by reading my lips and seeing the expressions that are coming off my face. So having access to this is extremely crucial and important for them.”

Dr. Cheri Blauwet, Director of Disability Acess and Awareness for the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, said that when the pandemic began and all medical staff were forced to cover their faces, they ordered as many of the window masks as they could with the goal of leaving no patient behind.

“We’re going above and beyond to meet the needs of populations who are typically underserved or at risk of health care disparities and certainly, people with disabilities fall within that category,” Blauwet said.

The hospital said that the window masks are a big hit with the patients.

“They have felt joy in the ability to see that physician and the expressions and visual cues that they need to be able to feel comfortable in their situation,” Brigham And Women’s Patient And Family Relations Director Niv Paterson said.

The hospital said the window masks have been so helpful to other non-COVID patients, like children, who might be scared and would be comforted by seeing their doctor’s smile.

So, when the pandemic is finally over, Brigham said it will continue using the special masks.

 

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