MSHC Cochlear Implant Clinic

by: Katherine Miller

Dr. Sarah Warren, the newest member of the CSD tenure-track faculty, established the MSHC Cochlear Implant (CI) Clinic in spring 2019. The CI Clinic is staffed by CSD alumna and clinical assistant professor, Dr. Jordan Alyse Coffelt. They provide candidacy evaluations, device activations, implant programming, and bone conduction implant services. CSD audiology students work with cochlear implant users in the clinic and study outcomes of the CI patients with Dr. Warren in the Cochlear Implant Lab.

Dr. Sarah Warren provides supervision in the sound booth to 2nd year AuD student, Autumn BarronDr. Warren is also pursuing her master’s degree in Public Health at the University of Memphis, because she believes that “public health concepts are key to understanding communication disorders.” When hospitals stopped providing non-essential surgeries thanks to COVID-19, cochlear implant surgeries were delayed. This left patients at risk of communication difficulties, which were further exacerbated by the difficulty of communicating through face masks. Patients with severe hearing loss who ended up in critical care were particularly vulnerable. “If we are to learn anything from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Warren stresses, “I hope it is that health is community-wide and everyone’s responsibility.”

Despite closing for several months in 2020, the clinic has made impressive progress. Since February 2019, 41 individuals have been evaluated for cochlear implant candidacy, leading to 25 patients who have been activated or are awaiting surgery. In total, the CI Clinic has provided services for 67 individuals for cochlear implants and 15 individuals for bone conduction hearing implants. Referrals are coming from all over the city. “We have accomplished in two years what I thought might take five,” Dr. Warren stated.

In the next year, MSHC plans to expand multidisciplinary services by including counseling, peer support, and on-site aural rehabilitation to the clinic. Dr. Coffelt joined the team full-time in February which is providing more opportunity for clients to get the services they need.