This is part one of a three-part series on Tri-City Audiology. The practice is jointly owned by David McBride, M.S. FAAA, Allen Rohe, Au. D., FAAA, and Kay Kochman, Au.D., FAAA with locations in Mesa, Chandler and Tempe, Arizona.
When Tri-City Audiology’s founder decided to retire seven years ago, David McBride and two of his colleagues decided to buy the practice. David, the first audiologist hired by the former owner nearly 17 years ago, said the purchase provided a smooth transition for the patients.
“We’re one business, but we operate in three distinctly different communities,” David explained. “Even so, if somebody’s sick in one office, one of us can fill in.”
David, a hearing health professional for 27 years, works in the Mesa office, along with Monica Morgan, Au.D., FAAA and Kimberly Gates, Au.D., FAAA. He said his clientele is mostly 75 years of age or older, many who winter in the Valley of the Sun and call the Mesa office staff “family.”
“We like to say we try to keep a small time atmosphere in the big city,” he explained. “Our service is unparalleled. Our patients are referring their friends and family and I think that’s the reason.”
David said the Mesa office’s philosophy is to have respect for the person, understand their frustrations and try to match their social needs with technology that fits into their budget.
“I tell patients that can’t afford an expensive instrument that even the inexpensive instrument is so much better than I was fitting 10 years ago,” he said. “The sound quality is phenomenal now.”
David developed an interest in working with the hearing impaired not long after he graduated from college with a telecommunications degree. “I had a good friend who lived in Tucson (Arizona) and was working with deaf children. I moved out here and saw what he was doing with these kids and became interested in working with the hearing impaired as opposed to working behind the camera. I’m fortunate. I discovered I enjoyed working one-on-one with people as a young man. You can make a real impact.”
One of his favorite hearing device success stories involved a husband and wife who were severely hearing impaired. “They’d been married for many, many years,” he said, “and hearing aids made an impact in their lives and in their marriage. When they came back for their follow up visit, they had a little more spring in their step. They were much, much happier with their situation, their friends and with each other.”
Although hearing aid technology has changed dramatically since McBride started in the profession, he said his biggest challenge is addressing the denial most people have when they’re diagnosed with hearing loss.
“There’s so much denial,” he said. “People really don’t think they have a problem or choose to ignore it.”
Cost is a factor, too. “My average patient is 75 years old and sometimes what they really need is beyond their financial where-with all,” he explained. “I tell patients that can’t afford an expensive instrument that even an inexpensive instrument is so much better than I was fitting 10 years ago. The sound quality is phenomenal now.”
Those that decide to purchase hearing aids often turn into a “social butterfly”, a metamorphosis David said is his favorite part of working in hearing healthcare.
“I really like making a difference in somebody’s life,” he said. “All I need is one person a week to say ‘wow, you really made a difference’ to make it all worthwhile.”