Coronavirus Puts Spotlight on Clear-Window Surgical Masks
12 March 2020
Last year, when I accompanied my wife to a series of visits to City of Hope Hospital in Southern California, I was stymied by health care workers and other patients wearing surgical masks. Traditional surgical masks not only muffle speech; they make lipreading completely impossible. As someone with severe hearing loss, I could never be sure of what the professionals were saying, and asking for constant repeats increased my anxiety. Communicating with patients was an even bigger challenge, because I didn’t want to invade their personal space by leaning in to hear better.
The Communicator™ Clear Window Surgical Mask eliminates lipreading problems while providing FDA-approved ASTM Level 1 protection.
Initially, I wondered why no one had come up with a see-through surgical mask to enable lipreading. But then a quick Google search revealed that someone already had. Our resulting story about Dr. Anne McIntosh and her Safe’N’Clear Communicator™ Clear Window Surgical Mask hit a nerve. The story went viral, and thousands of people (from doctors and nurses to everyday people) expressed an urgent need for the solution.
In addition to explaining the speech-reading benefits of a transparent surgical mask, Dr. McIntosh was also forthcoming about the challenges the medical industry faces in providing enough surgical masks to those who need them. Her masks are made in America, where manufacturers are faced with a huge backlog of orders for all kinds of surgical masks. Manufacturers have already complained about the lack of foresight by the government and large customers who failed to stockpile more of them.
Coronavirus renews interest in clear-window masks
With Coronavirus, more people are wearing surgical masks than ever. In fact, even while experts have debated the effectiveness of the masks, rapid growth in demand has led to a global supply shortage. As more and more people put on the masks, more and more faces are hidden to those—like myself—who rely on lipreading to communicate. That’s why it’s time to take another look at an obvious solution that should get far more attention: clear-window surgical masks.
Katharine Bouton, an influential hearing-loss-advice author, published a short post pointing to efforts of another company (ClearMask) to come up with a clear-window surgical mask for professionals and patients. Among other things, she is recommending that the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) start advocating for their use. She also posted an extremely helpful longer article on Coronavirus and People with Hearing Loss.
The ClearMask™ is the first, patent-pending transparent surgical mask with full-face visibility.