An Ode to a Wonderful Teacher

Post By: Olivia Hahn 

As a student in the realm of professionals I am given the opportunity to learn from the best. I stand by Dr. Tina Sheehan's side everyday and silently gather information on physical techniques, ways to converse with patients, strategies on how to administer tests, etc. Coming to HearCare Connection has absolutely been a blessing and I've been learning everything I was expecting to concerning the technicalities of becoming an audiologist. I've also learned things that I think are just as important as the mechanics of this occupation that don't often get a light shined on them. Tina has an excellent reputation for caring about patients and applying herself beyond the black and white tasks of her job. She's taught me many things of course but there are some things that I will be taking away from her and HCC that I wasn't expecting to when I first stepped into this office.

The first being the importance of doctor/patient relationships and the value of community outreach. Watching Tina perform the duties as an audiologist is exceptional in itself but the real lesson to be learned is to form a bond and a trust between herself and who she is helping as well as the community around her. Her interaction with patients can be somewhat mesmerizing in the sense of understanding and respect she gives to each and every person that walks through our doors. To say that she makes you feel welcomed in this office is an understatement. Her giving nature leads us into the community by involving us in numerous health fair screenings and expos giving out information about ourselves to those who don't know the wonders of HCC yet. This in turn brings more people into our comforting atmosphere at HearCare. Everybody wins!

The second thing I've learned is that although I am an intern, patients and members of the community that I help beyond the office hang on every word that I say. They trust that I know what I'm doing and unless Tina introduces me as her student intern (which she does every now and again) patients believe I am just as qualified as a professional. I have Dr. Tina to thank for this because she allows me to spread my wings in the office and take over numerous types of appointments. Let's just say she kicked me out of the nest early. But throughout this experience she has taught me to be meticulous in what I say and do because although I don't necessarily think about it because I am still in the learning process, patients take exactly what I say seriously and to heart. I now know what a powerful responsibility this is and exactly how to approach people on an individual basis. 

The last thing that has truly stuck out to me is the fact that everyday is typical for us but is a huge day in the lives of whatever guests walk through that door. We have a routine when we walk into the office every morning where we turn on equipment, make our cup of coffee, and check our emails. I look over Cindy's shoulder to read what charts are prepared for the day and see if we have any 'cool' appointments scheduled. In reality, every appointment is extremely important because every appointment and every patient has a story of why they are here in the first place. For some, this is their first experience concerning hearing loss and that can be a scary thing. I'm sure you've found a robotic and factory-like environment in other doctor's offices but not here. Not a HearCare Connection. To remain respectful, to move patiently, and to be uplifting are virtues that Tina has taught me because although this seems small and routine to us, it can be confusing and  mean the world to someone else. 

So as I move onto a professional education and eventually the big, bad world I will carry these lessons with me. If I can have a fraction of the awesome reputation that Tina has made for herself then I'm going to be in great shape! So Tina if you're reading this, which I'm sure you are, thanks for everything that you do not only for me but for our HCC family and the Northeast Indiana community. I'm ecstatic to continue learning the rest of the summer so stay tuned HCC followers! Have a wonderful week.

-Olivia 

May: Best Month... Ever!

Post By: Olivia Hahn

Where has the time gone? Honestly, where has it gone? I have two more days until I officially wrap up my undergraduate degree... TWO DAYS! I have a jam-packed summer ahead of me then I'm off to Kentucky in August. The University of Louisville awaits! Where I'll begin this four year process all over... It'll be harder on me mentally and emotionally but it'll be worth every second. People have been asking me 'What will you do with your doctorate?', 'Where do you want to work when you graduate?', 'Is there something you'd like to specialize in?'. If I'm being honest I have a plan in mind and if I'm being really honest I have no idea if what I want to happen, will actually happen. 

The amazing thing about audiology is that I could pursue virtually whatever I wanted in the field. Pediatrics? Geriatrics? Cochlear Implants? Balance? Brain Surgery? (Okay, definitely not brain surgery but a girl can dream). The point being is that I'm entering a field where I can extend my talents and learn new things everyday. My clientele could be as diverse as I want it or as specific as I want it. I could be really great at one particular thing or really great at numerous specialties. Audiology and what we as professionals learn to do and the ways we can help should be celebrated! With all this being said, I'm very happy to wish you a delightful 'Better Hearing and Speech' month! According to ASHA (American Speech and Hearing Association), the month of May is dedicated to spreading awareness about communication disorders. This years theme... "Communication: The Key to Connection". 

I couldn't agree more. Communication is 100% the key to connecting with your friends and family. Without the ability to hear and speak, building relationships with other people can be extremely difficult. If anyone knows me at all, they know I love to talk. I also (sort of) love to listen. I'm immensely blessed with the mechanics to start building and maintaining my connections with others. Some people are blessed in other aspects of life but lack the features needed to connect through communication. This is where HearCare Connection steps in. We thrive on helping others and making our patients feel comfortable. To us, May is the best month ever! An excuse to blow what we do out of proportion and shine a light on the fantastic things we can provide. There can be many unanswered questions in life and time can feel like it's flying right past you (see the first two paragraphs above). We feel like this a majority of the time but everyone, myself included, needs to take this month, sit back, be thankful, and roll with it! 

For those of you who obtain the qualities of life that are key to connecting with others, like speech and hearing, do not take them for granted people! Everyday I see patients walk into HCC praying that we can find a way to instill these capabilities into them. So let's celebrate the last 23 days of the best month ever! Appreciate the mechanics you possess and admire people who don't have this privilege. Together let's celebrate ourselves and celebrate communication disorders. Happy "Better Hearing and Speech Month" everyone! 

-Olivia

What About the Children?

 

Post By: Olivia Hahn:

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great Easter filled with family and pastels... I know I did! Although I am a little disappointed that I no longer qualify to participate in egg hunts considering I'm 22 years old and weeks away from graduating college. 

On Sunday, I was watching my little cousins run in circles around the yard picking up neon plastic eggs, cracking them open, and genuinely feeling excitement and joy for the quarter or mini peanut butter cup that laid inside. My cousins are young at the ages of two, five, and eight. A perfect time in their lives to learn new things and expand their knowledge. Because they're so young and still have years of growing to do, their brains are considered 'plastic' giving them the ability to adapt and store loads of information. At the convention in Indianapolis Tina and I attended a few weeks back, I sat in on a lecture about our role as audiologists in the language development of children in this age range.

I've been slowly falling in love with the world of pediatric audiology. Something I swore I was never going to pursue. Patience has never been my best characteristic but I'm learning. So I've decided in leap into opportunities where I can learn more about children and what I could potentially do for them as a professional. In this lecture, I was reminded that the ear is simply a doorway to the actual process of hearing and understanding that occurs in the brain. Our ears don't hear, our brains do. Just like our eyes or nose are simply doorways to our vision and sense of smell that are actually performed in the brain. 

If we as doctors, teachers, and guardians can manipulate this concept in children at a young age, then we're setting the stage for many Easter egg hunts to come without complications or confusion. Things that you can do early on to prepare their language are make sure you are reading to your children and engaging in music with them in an active manner. Reading to kids at any age is extremely beneficial. Dance and sing to music rather than putting a song on the speaker and walking away. A number of these actions will begin to develop the child's language but for some children, the assistance of professionals will be needed to begin language development. As audiologists we are a part of this team.

If a child has a hearing loss in some form or another, that means there is something blocking that hearing doorway to their brain. Ear issues in children can be taken lightly and even be pushed to the side but we must realize that this is an issue in actively training the brain, not just in the mechanics of the ear! We need to be taking care of this NOW and not later. The sooner we establish a hearing loss in kids the sooner we can find a way to start opening that doorway and begin developing their language. 

Tina and I are more than happy to assist with this at HearCare Connection so don't be shy and come see us! At the end of your appointment, your kids will be leaving with a book of their choice to promote language development and you'll be leaving feeling comforted and more knowledgeable about what you can do to help your children! Let's train these kids together so they can enjoy the little things in life like egg hunts before they're too old and it's socially unacceptable for them to run around the yard looking for plastic eggs (like me). 

Take care and I'll see you next week! 

-Olivia

 

Empowerment Comes from the Heart of the Audiologist

Post by Olivia Hahn:

Hello loyal HearCare Connection followers! Today is going to be your new favorite day of the week because it's... Magical Monday's with Olivia! Each week I will be taking over HCC's page with news about the office, patient stories, fun stuff that's been going on, pressing issues that I think should be addressed in the world of hearing, etc.

A little background on me: I am a senior at IPFW inching towards my bachelor's degree.I have committed my next four years to the University of Louisville where I will be earning my doctorate in audiology. I started as a volunteer at HCC last year and am now the Audiology Intern under the direct supervision of the fabulous Dr. Tina!

Last week, Tina and I went to the Audiology Now! convention in Indianapolis, IN. It was a span of several days where thousands of other people just like us joined to learn new techniques in the field, listen to other doctors'/students' research, take a look at new products on the market, and get advice as a student moving onto the next step in my career.

There was one class in particular that stood out to not only myself but to Tina as well. The title of the lecture: 'The Science of Being Repulsive: How to Avoid it'. As hearing loss specialists, our profession tends to have a pessimistic reputation because a key term that can come up in your visits with us is 'loss'. The lecture reminded us that our knowledge and expertise are actually EMPOWERING people to be able to do the things they love and become more involved in the world around them. There's also a stereotype that our services are geared towards the older generations. For some reason, this also can have a negative outlook and middle-aged, college students, etc. stray from the help they truly need. Well did you know that a majority of the people with hearing loss now are UNDER the age of 65?

Just remember that we are here to empower you, strengthen your relationships, and open that doorway to a brighter life! Let's transition the outlook on hearing help together. Thanks for reading and have a great week :)  -Olivia

It's not all about the numbers

Numbers are good.  They show progress.  They can encourage hard work.  They can give us the right expectations for growth every year.  However, numbers can never tell you the story of a person's life.  David came to us "ready to make some conversations with a bunch of people" but one thing was holding him back - he couldn't hear very well.  His hearing healthcare goals were to understand people speaking to him (regardless of the environment he was in) and to work on understanding the Burmese accent better.  David LOVES music.  He had been playing instruments his whole life and he is beginning to really enjoy classical music.  He was worried though because music seemed to sound more and more muffled.  

David did his volunteer hours at Science Central and had a chance to meet some really great people.  He was fit with his hearing aids this year.  He is enjoying the fullness of music again and he is having some "great conversations" with friends and neighbors.  He said that the hearing aids are not helping much with understanding someone with a Burmese accent but he wants to keep engaging those relationships.  David is 71 years old and still expects his life to be overflowing the possibilities and adventures!  So can you!

Twenty-four hearing aids fit this year?  Not bad.

Over $40,000 raised in donations this year?  Even better.

One person experiencing life in abundance?  That's the number we want to always strive to reach!  Together we can reach ONE!

Concordia Student on the Guatemala Hearing Mission

Written by Barb Sieminski

Last December, 17-year-old Gabrielle Layman of Fort Wayne got a tremendous Christmas gift from HearCare Connection – an all-expenses-paid mission trip to Guatemala!

         The Concordia Lutheran High School junior was speechless when she was notified that she had won the company’s essay contest underwritten by Widex, the world’s sixth-largest hearing aid manufacturer.

         “It felt amazing!” said Gabby, who took her first trip out of the country when she spent a week in Guatemala February 27-March 5, 2016.

         Regina, Gabby’s mother, had not thought the odds were in favor of her daughter’s winning the contest.

         “With the entire city of Fort Wayne’s high schoolers having the opportunity to submit an essay, it didn’t seem very likely,” said Regina.  “Once we had been selected as one of the top three, I had a good feeling about it, and the moment she told me she had won, all I felt was pride!  I think the judges saw that she was speaking from her heart and I couldn’t be more proud that she was chosen.”

         (Gabby’s essay can be viewed below)

         According to Anna Bogdon, HCC’s executive director, on the 2016 Hearing the Call: Guatemala Hearing Mission trip, her company partnered with 21 Alive, Entheos Audiology Cooperative and Woodland Public Charities to bring hearing healthcare to a developing region in Guatemala. On this trip they brought hearing aids and audiology care to the residents of Patanatic and the surrounding communities.

         This year, they included a spot on their team for one area high schooler for an all-expenses-paid mission trip upon winning their essay contest.  Each participant, 16 and over, was required to write a 300-word essay on what it meant to serve people in poverty.

         “Widex has been a tremendous supporter of HearCare Connection since our inception,” said Bogdon. “We are proud to be partnering with them locally in our clinic as well as joining forces with them for the Guatemala trip.  Widex's sponsorship not only will help to bring the Gift of Hearing around the globe but they are directly influencing the life of a local student as they participate on this trip. 

“The impact of this journey has the potential to direct the career of a young student.  Our heartfelt "Thank you!" goes to this tremendous partner!”

Though Gabby, who cites her favorite classes as English and band (she plays flute and piccolo), was naturally excited about her trip, her mother had some initial apprehensions.

“I absolutely was worried about sending Gabrielle to a foreign country,” said Regina.  

“Anna had warned us about some of the precautions being taken to be safe while out of the country, but it made me nervous to think about why they had to be taken. I have a friend at church who adopted a child from Guatemala. She told me stories of her experiences in the country and it worried me to send my blonde-headed child to a country where she would stick out so much. However, I knew that if this was what God was calling Gabrielle to do, he would keep her safe. I couldn't let my fear get in God's way of teaching my daughter what He wanted her to learn.”

Bringing home an abundance of memories Gabby recalls one that was especially hilarious.

 “Anna, Sandy – a lady from Fort Wayne – and I went on a taxi ride around the block, and Sandy got out at every place we stopped to take pictures,” said Gabby.  “She especially wanted to get a picture of some ladies making tortillas in a little shop but they kept saying ‘NO,’ which made Sandy mad, so she yelled ‘¡Buenas noches!’ to them in a mean way, which means ‘Good night’ in Spanish.  It was funny because she said a nice thing in an unpleasant way.

“Also, when we went across the lake for our last clinic day, we had to ride in pickup trucks to get to the church.  Well, the trucks had bars that went on the tops of them.  We had to stand up and hold onto the bars while the truck went up very steep hills – we were all packed in like sardines but it was a lot of fun!”

“Another memorable story involves a boy named Christian.  He was 6 years old and had never heard sound before, and because of that, he couldn’t talk.  When the HCC team fitted him with hearing aids, I got to witness him hear for the first time AND say his first words.  It was phenomenal and after he was fitted with his hearing aids he went around the room and thanked everyone individually in sign language!”        

Gabby who wants to be a pediatric physical therapist, is looking at Concordia University of Wisconsin, Vincennes University, or Ohio State University to continue her education after graduation. 

“My trip was just outstanding and so much fun,” enthused Gabby, who knew a little Spanish prior to her journey.   

“Guatemala is a beautiful country, and it was eye-opening and humbling to be there.  Trips like these are important because poor people need help and God’s love and Word need to be spread to the rest of the world.  I really grew in my faith, too.

“Also, my trip made me realize how lucky I am to have what I have. It made me realize how much I take simple things, like hearing, for granted. It made me realize that I need to change how I act and to be more appreciative.”

##

        

Gabby’s winning essay

To serve people in poverty is to help them have a better life. To help them see that the world isn't all bad and that there are people willing and ready to help them. It's to give them hope for a better future. Hope is the only thing that people in poverty have to keep them going every day. Just like a single mom hopes for a miracle. That's what people in poverty need. A miracle. I want to be that miracle. I want to help them and give them hope. To get the opportunity to watch people hear for the first time would be life changing. This is a once in a lifetime chance that I would get to take. Knowing that I would be a miracle for someone and change their life would be awesome. People in poverty deserve everything that we have here in America. They need as much help from us as they can get. I believe that it's almost mandatory for us to help them out. They're equal people, they're not below or above us in any way. They deserve to be healthy, clean, and to hear and speak every day just like we do. We need to help them get back on their feet and give them hope and the chance for a new, better life. I want to play a part in that. I want to make a difference. I want to change the world. 

##

Patient Story & Testimonial: Aiden Slattery

Written by Barb Sieminski

Livi Slattery remembers June 2012 all too vividly.

       “My son Aiden was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma at the age of three,” said Slattery, who with husband Tom also has a 5-year-old son Brody.

       “He was a very spunky, energetic toddler.  He began complaining of his right leg hurting, and it got to the point where we would have to carry him around the house because it hurt for him to walk on it.  After tests at Parkview proved inconclusive, we were sent to the infectious disease wing at Riley in Indy.

       “We were brought into a conference room with a circle of doctors telling us Aiden had Stage 4 cancer, after which they began aggressive treatment.  Months of chemo, radiation and a stem-cell transplant followed.  Ultimately, the hard-hitting cancer treatments saved his life, with one caveat:  he ended up with some hearing loss.”

       This distressing news turned the family upside down all around, said Slattery.

       “We were beginning to have an avalanche of emotions in our house because Aiden would get frustrated because he couldn’t hear what we were asking of him, which consequently resulted in discipline for what we thought was him not listening.  At school, he got in trouble for talking to other students around him instead of listening to the teacher, because he simply couldn’t hear her.”

       Aiden’s loss was a mixture of both sensorineural and conductive, which means there may be damage in both the inner and outer ear but, as the loss was in certain frequencies, he has not needed an interpreter. 

       Asked how the family had learned about HearCare Connection, Slattery said after Aiden’s Medicaid coverage changed, “We were referred by ENT on the Dupont Hospital campus.  Their staff recommended them highly.

        “Aiden who got his hearing devices in Kindergarten is now in first grade at Northcrest Elementary, and there has been a complete turnaround in his behavior.

“Before that, when he watched TV, he would have the volume all the way up to 50, just to hear properly.  With his aids in, thankfully, there is no need for additional volume.  He is also able to talk on the phone and carry on a pretty decent conversation.”

If Aiden is outdoors or out of voice range, how does Slattery summon him?

“I am usually able to yell his name at a moderate level to get his attention from another room or outside,” said Slattery.

Aiden in Tent.jpg

Aiden himself is a big fan of his hearing devices, saying, “What I like best about my hearing aids is that I can hear again with them a lot better than right now.  They help me listen better.”

Some of his friends wish they had hearing aids, too, said Aiden.

       The family has a budding musician, it would seem:  Aiden has taken several months of drum lessons.  He also has, “a very well-loved acoustic guitar,” said Slattery, adding that her son plays and practices, “all by ear, and he got the hearing devices after he started playing musical instruments.  He is even starting to write lyrics.”

       When not involved in music, Aiden can be found playing Pokemon and Minecraft, and also has a huge enthusiasm for firefighters and the job they do.  His other passion is Sadie, the family’s 2-year-old mixed breed obtained from the shelter last year.

       “Aiden absolutely loves her and plays tug of war, fetch, and enjoys training her with treats,” said Slattery.

       Finally, his family would no doubt agree that Aiden is living his life fully thanks to his hearing aids, as described by these words:  “Hope is hearing the music in the future.  Faith is dancing to the music now.”

2016 Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

We celebrate a fantastic 2015 of volunteerism! Our volunteers enjoyed dinner, a great talk about volunteerism by Ani Etter of the Volunteer Center, and a fun game that exposed some of our great accomplishments in 2015.

Thank you for serving HearCare Connection and the Fort Wayne community. We look forward to a great 2016!

Volunteers mean = doing more, reaching further so that other can hear.
-
Anna Bogdon

Special thank you's go to Ziano's for discounting our tasy meal, Chick Fil A for the iced tea and La Petite Bakery for the delicious cupcakes!

CLICK HERE to see and sign-up for future volunteer opportunities.