Family-owned and operated, Hill Country Hearing has three locations in Boerne, Fredericksburg and Kerrville, Texas. The clinics are led by Barbara Norvell, who is a member of the American Academy of Audiology, and the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association.
"I started out as a speech and hearing major and I just found audiology very rewarding because I saw immediate results of how it changed people's lives," Norvell explained.
"Technology is just amazing since I started," Norvell said. "The digital instruments [for one,] plus we use probe microphone measurements on our patients so we can plot the sound pressure at the ear drum. We have computerized software because hearing impaired people are visual so we can let them see everything on the screen while we're going through the process. So not only do they get partial verbal cues, but they get to see it. We have a screen in our booth."
But there are boundaries for audiologists like Novell because of the hearing aid "stigma of being thought of [as] elderly, and I think that some of them have heard stories in the past of them being too expensive and they don't work," she said. "A lot of those are misconceptions."
"They're not like they used to be," she continued. "They bring you back in touch with life. They make your life better. You're not isolated. You're part of life again."
Patients refer their family and friends to the clinic "because they know they are getting the most comprehensive care from our office," Norvell said. "We take pride in providing the latest and the greatest, so that we can really make sure that our patients are delighted and satisfied. And we also go through an aural rehab process with them. It's not just, 'here's a hearing aid, see you later.'"
In addition to working with patients so that they know how to properly use hearing aids, Norvell and her team maintain communication with those who walk in and out of the door. While some issues include settings and features, others end up not being issues at all.
"This lady would take a walk everyday and she said, 'My hearing aids are chirping!' And we asked her when she would hear this noise," Norvell said. "She said, 'Oh, in the morning when I take my walk.' So we had to establish that it was the birds chirping and not her hearing aids because she hadn't heard them in so long."
In addition to providing patients with the utmost of care, Norvell and her team are very involved in the community. They work with the chamber of commerce, local senior center and are members of the Advocates for the Aging to promote awareness and reduce stigma.