Sunni McBride, Au.D., was studying to become a doctor when her father, a physician, suggested she consider audiology.
"Audiology was a new field in the 70s and I had grandparents who were hearing impaired. I had empathy for hearing-impaired people," she said of her decision to switch fields of study. The residents of South Bay are obviously glad she took her dad's advice. They've voted her the Best Audiologist of the South Bay for the fourth consecutive year.
In addition to Dr. McBride, South Bay Hearing & Balance Center employs four additional doctors of audiology: Rebecca Hu, Au.D., Rachel Burnet, Au.D., William Miller, Au.D., and Ryan Bullock, Au.D. Dana Ryan, HAD, is the center's hearing aid dispenser.
"When you walk in the door, you notice the difference," Dr. McBride said. "Our staff are so warm and inviting, They immediately make the patients smile. And we deal with cutting-edge technology. We're the go-to people if you want the latest, newest, greatest stuff."
The South Bay Hearing and Balance Center is part of AudigyGroup, a certification only given to an elite number of hearing centers in the United States.
"We go through a very detailed four-step process to truly get to patient's needs," Dr. McBride explained. "We use advanced verification testing to most closely match the output of the hearing aid to the patient's hearing loss. We don't cut any corners which usually leads to more satisfying outcomes."
Dr. McBride said the most rewarding part of her profession is the gratefulness she feels from people when she's able to give them their life back through better hearing. She told the story of a woman in a wheelchair who was unable to communicate. "I wasn't sure if I could get a good hearing test on her -- but I did," Dr. McBride said. "She had lost 80 percent of her hearing and was totally withdrawn. I fit her with hearing aids and when the family brought her back in for a check-up they said 'we can't keep her off the telephone. She talks to her sister in New York all day long!'"
Untreated hearing loss negatively affects quality of life. Dr. McBride said the most challenging aspect of working in hearing healthcare is working with highly intelligent people whose hearing and understanding have deteriorated so much it's difficult to restore the performance they desire.
That's one of the reasons South Bay Hearing and Balance are such great advocates of hearing health in their community. The center co-sponsors a large senior expo each year. Additionally, they accept donations of old hearing aids which they send to Starkey. The parts from those aids are used to build sturdy hearing aids used in hearing missions. They donate $50 of every hearing aid purchased to the Starkey Hearing Foundation to help fund mission trips.
Individual efforts by the audiologists include outreach by Dr. Bullock, a competitive swimmer who recently won the Alcatraz swim. He founded the Swim To Hear Foundation, dedicated to bringing audiology awareness to the community through swimming.
"If you have a challenging hearing loss, South Bay Hearing is the place to go," Dr. McBride said. "So many patients say 'it's a miracle!' when we give them their hearing back that we've coined the motto 'Where miracles happen every day'."