JAMESTOWN A grant from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation has enabled The Resource Center to continue to provide hearing services to hundreds of people in Chautauqua County.
The CRCF provided TRC's Audiology Department with a grant to replace a vital piece of equipment. The new equipment is a microprocessor-controlled, two-channel audiometer for use in the clinical/diagnostic environment. It provides testing capabilities for a standard battery of diagnostic audiometric tests. Information can be printed or sent to a remote computer for use with electronic medical records.
"Our diagnostic audiometer in Jamestown began to fail and become unreliable last December," Anne Hedin, clinical audiologist for TRC's Diagnostic and Treatment Center, said. "Without that equipment, the department would have had to shut down. So, replacing the aging equipment was an absolute necessity. I am deeply grateful to CRCF and its support of our services."
Randy Sweeney, executive director of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, looks on as Anne Hedin operates some of the equipment in TRC’s Audiology Department.
"The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation is thankful for the many services that The Resource Center provides to the residents in our community. We are delighted to assist them in the acquisition of this audiology equipment, which will allow them to continue to serve those that need this testing," Randy Sweeney, the Community Foundation's executive director, said.
The Resource Center's Audiology Program serves hundreds of patients each year at its locations in the Michael J. Raymond Center on Jones & Gifford Avenue in Jamestown and TRC's Diagnostic and Treatment Center on Lake Shore Drive in Dunkirk. The Audiology Program started in the late 1970s, and at that time it only conducted hearing testing on individuals who received other services from The Resource Center.
"Over time, we began to dispense hearing aids and eventually opened up our services to the community at large for both diagnostic and hearing aid dispensing services," Hedin, who has a master's degree as well as a certificate in clinical competency in audiology, said.
Now, about 50 percent of Hedin's time is spent working with members of the community, while the other half is spent with individuals with disabilities who receive TRC support. And while Hedin sees and treats those of all ages, she only dispenses hearing aids to the adult population.
Having a new audiometer has enhanced The Resource Center's ability to participate in the "Connecting People Through Communication" campaign, an initiative of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The campaign's purpose is to raise awareness about communication disorders and to promote treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems speaking, understanding or hearing.
Hearing loss is one of the most common health problems in the United States, with more than 36 million Americans affected. While hearing loss is often associated with the elderly, more than half of the people with the condition are younger than age 65.
Untreated hearing loss can affect one's ability to understand speech and can have a negative impact on one's social and emotional well-being. Hedin said hearing loss is the greatest disability for older Americans and is often undiagnosed. A few common signs of hearing loss include:
Difficulty hearing people talk in noisy environments.
People often having to repeat themselves to you.
Ringing, buzzing or hissing sounds in your ears.
Difficulty hearing people when they're not facing you.
A few common causes of hearing loss include:
Exposure to excessive loud noise
Ear infections, trauma or disease
A few common-sense ways to protect your hearing include:
Wearing ear protection when you're around loud noises
Turning down the volume when listening to a television, radio or iPod
Simply walking away from the noise
"I recommend all people have an initial baseline evaluation by the age of 50 years old. Unfortunately, there is still the stigma surrounding hearing loss as a symptom of aging, and often people choose not to seek help," Hedin said. "With today's digital hearing aid technology, our ability to improve an individual's communication skills is excellent. Our goal is to educate the population that help is available, that it is effective and that we are a provider for the general community."
For more information, contact Hedin at TRC's Diagnostic and Treatment Center at 661-4847 (Jamestown) or 366-6125 (Dunkirk).