Nancy Datino, Au.D, CCC-A, isn't just an audiologist - she's also a speech-language pathologist with a focus on rehabilitation. "It doesn't stop at the hearing aid for me," she explains. "I really pride myself in integrating a person’s difficulty with lifestyle, budget and challenges they might have in my treatments."
Dr. Datino was a special education major in college when a course in Communication Problems of the Mentally and Physically Handicapped changed her direction. "I met an audiologist when I was doing a research paper and observed him working with an elderly patient in his office. he impressed me with his knowledge and care. That's when I realized that's what I wanted to do. I finished my undergraduate degree and went straight into my masters in audiology. It was quite the revelation."
Audiology and Speech Solutions, a boutique clinic in Rye, allows Dr. Datino to focus on personalization of care. She tries to help patients solve their own problems by teaching them how to self-advocate or use hearing technology and communication strategies together. "I don't like to be rushed," she said. "I like to spend time with each patient. I'm interested in developing a long-term relationship, rather than a dispensing kind of model, with the significant other, children or parents of my patients. Every person is always different."
Dr. Datino works with both children and adults. One of her favorite hearing success stories involves a young woman with a profound hearing loss that she diagnosed when she was only six months old. "Her mom called me 20 years later to see if I was still doing audiology," she related. "Her daughter had been wearing analog hearing aids because other audiologists weren't patient enough to help her transition to digital hearing aids. They didn't understand her unique difficulties. It's been a process but we are getting closer. Now she's in the process of applying to medical school."
The transition from analog to digital is the most significant change in hearing technology Dr. Datino has experienced since she joined the field. "It just keeps getting better," she said. "Years ago, we would put hearing aids on and I had to program them. With the advent of digital technology, I can almost set it and forget it, the hearing aid companies are so good with their frequencies. Most of my time is spent teaching my patients how to use the different gadgets, but I don’t have any doubt the instrument will function. I have no reservation recommending a hearing aid and knowing it will help that individual."
Another one of her favorite hearing success stories involves an older woman with Alzheimer's. "People thought she was out of it," Dr. Datino said, "but when I put digital hearing aids on her, the world really opened up to her. She was able to tell that Bonanza was on TV!"
Dr. Datino has extensive experience with nonprofit organizations such as the League for the Hard of Hearing and Hudson Valley United Cerebral Palsy. She provides hearing screenings at the local senior citizen centers, participates in the local YMCA's health fair, and teaches audiology at a local college.
"I really understand this stuff," Dr. Datino said. "I think I stand apart from other hearing healthcare practitioners because I bring to it my knowledge in speech communication. I want to change the person’s life and their ability to communicate, not just give them a hearing aid."