At Premium Hearing Solutions in Troy, Michigan, hearing health is a family matter. Each hearing solution is custom tailored, depending upon the lifestyle, needs and budget of each individual – as well as input from family members.
“In our office, we believe hearing loss affects more than the person identified as having the hearing loss,” Linda Vassallo, MA, said. “Every individual who walks in our door is unique. There is no such thing as one size fits all.”
Vassallo said many times family members are able to remind loved ones they are turning the television volume up or need things repeated numerous times to understand the conversation. That realization, along with Premium Hearing’s practice of demonstrating hearing aids, allows patients to experience the difference hearing aids can make in their quality of life.
“I find it very rewarding to hear success stories of my patients telling me how much better they’re doing at jobs, and how much they enjoy conversing with their grandchildren now that their hearing has improved,” Vassallo said. “I also enjoy the challenge of working with people who resisted getting help – sometimes for many years – and finally taking the brave step and moving forward. If I can work out what holds them back, it’s very rewarding.”
Vassallo said denial and indecision are the two biggest obstacles for individuals with untreated hearing loss. She said the most challenging aspect of her job is educating the public that hearing aids cannot completely compensate for a damaged auditory system. “Some people put on eyeglasses and they see better,” she said. “With hearing aids, it is not 20-20 vision. Hearing aids cannot restore normal hearing or determine whose voice we want to hear and whose voice we don’t want to hear. We also cannot completely eliminate background noise.”
The Michigan State University graduate originally set out to become a speech language pathologist, but switched to audiology after taking the course in her undergraduate studies. “I realized it was a better fit for me,” she explained. “I find it rewarding to help people significantly improve the quality of life in a relatively short period of time.”
Vassallo worked in diagnostics, pediatrics, a clinical setting and for a manufacturer before becoming an audiologist with Premium Hearing Solutions three years ago. Jeanne Ward, Au.D., is the founder of Premium Hearing Solutions and there are two patient coordinators, Teri Carson and Amanda Hill, and a patient advocate, Marge Mizzi.
Premium Hearing Solution professionals regularly attend community health fairs, give talks at local senior citizen centers and work with local physicians to educate them on the signs of hearing loss. They recommend individuals over the age of 55 have an initial hearing screening and provide this service at no cost.
One of Vassallo’s favorite success stories involved a veteran who experienced hearing loss in the 1970s and was told upon discharge there was nothing that could be done. He had significant loss in one ear, no hearing in the other and, because of his initial conversation with his doctor, had never had a hearing test.
“He came into the office upon the urging of his wife,” Vassallo said, “and while I was testing him she told me he would never move forward. When I demonstrated a BI-CROS system, a look of shock came over his face and then he started to smile. I fit him a few days later. When I followed up a few days later with his wife, she said he was so much more open and keeps asking people if they can hear the same sounds he is now able to identify. Today his wife can sit on either side of him in a restaurant or in the living room and he is thriving at his job now that he can hear his co-workers.”
“That’s why we get up in the morning and do our job,” she said. “If we can change somebody’s life who’s waited 40 years, it’s very rewarding.”