“It’s a breathtaking difference”

Audiology Services

With a second provincial audiologist, wait times are dropping dramatically.

Kaitlin MacKay remembers all too well the stress of being PEI’s only provincial audiologist.

“I had a lot of sleepless nights,” she said. “For a long time, I struggled with thinking, ‘am I really doing a good job? There should be more I can do to help.’ I was always struggling to fit people in and meet my own goals.”

The waiting list for audiology services reflected that struggle.

“I was just putting out fires for a long time,” she said. “Kids with hearing concerns could wait as long as a year and half to come in for assessment. I needed someone else to share the load.”

Charlotte Ellis first came on board casually in 2018 to help perform auditory processing assessments – tests which examine how the brain processes the sounds it hears.

“Auditory processing assessment wasn’t available before that,” explained MacKay, “so some families were seeking those services in other provinces privately. It made a huge difference in the level of service we could provide.”

Ellis came on as a second full-time audiologist in the fall of 2021. MacKay said the impact was almost immediate.

“Waiting lists for general hearing assessments went from a year and a half to just four or five months. We’re not just meeting benchmarks, we’re exceeding them.” 

     – Kaitlin MacKay, audiologist

For Ellis, the job came naturally. Her mother was the provincial audiologist for PEI for many years.

“I know for Mum it was challenging being the only audiologist,” she said. “She took a lot of work home with her, working tirelessly on reports just to feel like she was barely keeping up.”

Ellis and MacKay figured it would be a year before they caught up on the backlog. It ended up taking less than half of that time.Picture of Charlotte Ellis and Kaitlin MacKay

“When I started seeing clients, we were doing semi-urgent hearing tests which had been referred to us in 2018,” said Ellis. “Now we’re seeing people who were referred to us in January of this year.”

“It’s a breathtaking difference,” said MacKay. “Those tests are important. Kids with hearing and speech problems need that assessment before they can access other services.”

MacKay said one other benefit of having a second audiologist is to have a colleague to chat with.

"Charlotte’s office is right next door,” she said. “We have a constant back-and-forth discussing clients, equipment—anything—rather than my old internal monolog. That’s the thing about working alone. It’s lonely!”

“Working together means we can consult each other,” said Ellis. “In any healthcare setting, you often want or need another opinion... or even just help. It’s so important to not be the only person.”

Both Ellis and MacKay look forward to the future. Working as a team, they can do that. “Being able to meet the best-practice benchmarks means I can look ahead,” said MacKay. “I’m so excited for what happens next.”

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Published date: 
May 10, 2022
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