For people with hearing loss, masking in health care settings has added an additional barrier for effective communication. Infection concerns, especially during the pandemic, have made it difficult for patients in health care settings to borrow the hospital’s personal sound amplification devices, due to inability to effectively clean the device headphones between uses by each patient.

To help, financial support from our COVID-19 emergency response fund was used to purchase 500 SuperEar personal sound amplifiers and distribute them on nursing units and patient care areas in our hospitals. The assistive listening devices are given to patients to use during their hospital stay. Afterward, patients can take the devices home.

Wendy Sultzman, UCHealth’s Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator, said patients and staff appreciate the generosity that enabled the purchase of the sound amplifiers, and the benefits are far reaching.

“A family member commented to me (after her mother used one of these devices in the hospital) that ‘they should really have these things easily findable at places in town. I haven’t been able to have a conversation with Mom in years—and now I can.’”

Sultzman said the sound amplifiers are helpful both for staff and for patients to use in addition to the already available clear masks when communicating with people with hearing loss.

“The benefits of improved communication are many. Safety is improved when a patient understands a question clearly so they can provide accurate responses to staff. Patient experience and outcomes are improved when staff can communicate in a way the patient understands. In situations where other patients or staff could overhear, privacy is improved because staff does not have to raise their voice for a patient to hear them.

“Providing a SuperEar to keep enables that individual to benefit from improved communication at future health care interactions and can improve their quality of life as they use the devices in other contexts, such as communicating with family at home.”

For more information about this program or accessibility services at UCHealth, please contact

As different effects of the pandemic continue to manifest, philanthropic dollars provide a critical ability to address them. To help, please consider a donation. Visit our online donation page. Select our greatest need fund—or any of the other important health care initiatives the foundation supports with help from our donors.