Maura Chippendale, M.Ed., FAAA, BC-ABA, remembers reading about digital hearing instrument technology when she was in graduate school 30 years ago. Now, she’s dispensing it.
“The dawn of the digital age in hearing technology was a huge turning point for us,” she said. “When Oticon introduced its first fully programmable hearing aids, it was a big break through. That digital platform helped us understand what we can do to manipulate the signal. Now the sky is the limit.”
Chippendale purchased the Cape Coral hearing practice a year ago, after working for the audiologist/owner for 25 years. The move afforded her the opportunity to update all the equipment and transition to a paperless office, while maintaining relationships with her existing patients. Becky Fisher stayed on as patient care coordinator and shares Chippendale’s vision of patient care.
“Patients appreciate the special touches that come with being known and Becky makes a point to greet each patient personally. She is phenomenal at remembering everyone’s name and tidbits of their lives,” Chippendale said. “When they know we care about them and their hearing, they make an effort to come in and keep up with their hearing health.”
For Chippendale, the most challenging aspect of working as a hearing health practitioner is counseling someone with a severe hearing loss who doesn’t understand why technology can’t give them the outcome they are anticipating. “I want to be able to give everyone great hearing,” she said. “Sometimes we can’t give them what they want. It’s always hard to tell them we are limited in what we can do.”
On the other hand, when the diagnostic puzzle pieces fit together, it’s one of the best aspects of the profession.
“If you can’t hear, it takes away from enjoyment of life so I like finding solutions to my patient’s issues,” Chippendale said. “I feel very accomplished when I can make a positive difference in their quality of life.”
One of Chippendale’s favorite hearing device success stories involves a young Puerto Rican woman in her late 20s. “She came to the office with a huge BTE (behind-the-ear) hearing aid that was so old, it was held together with tape,” Chippendale explained. “She was attending beauty school. I fit her with a pair of Oticon Epoq RITE Power hearing instruments with a Bluetooth streamer. She cried at the fitting because they were so comfortable and she could finally communicate with her husband. When I attached the streamer that allowed her to use her cell phone, she called her uncle in Puerto Rico. She hadn’t been able to talk to him for the last five years because she wasn’t able to use the phone. Both of them were crying.”
The busy Cape Coral office finds time to educate the public by offering educational seminars after hours at the office throughout the year. Topics include tinnitus, ototoxicity and hearing loss. Chippendale Audiology also uses their website for patient education, stressing the importance of hearing healthcare and encouraging the public to monitor their hearing health with the same diligence they do their dental health or eye care.
Chippendale is careful to treat patients the way she would want her parents or grandparents to be treated. “We provide the best service we can because that’s what our patients deserve. Their issues are the most important issues at that specific time.—we’re not thinking about anyone else. Our goal is to be ethical, courteous and punctual. We know if we can provide that standard, we’re going to make a difference in our patients’ lives.”