For Kevin Sturtz, ACA, hearing health is a family affair. The owner of Hearing Clinic LLC, with locations in Port Huron, Lapeer and Caro, followed in his father’s footsteps to become a hearing health practitioner – a profession he’s enjoyed for 22 years.
Kevin said he was exposed to hearing healthcare as a young boy when he would travel with his father to perform hearing tests on individuals in their home environments. “I was exposed to this positive atmosphere, this healthcare change for the better,” he explained. “Back then, the circuitry (for hearing instruments) was fairly crude but it had a tremendous impact on the hearing impaired and their families. Everyone was smiling and happy.”
His father left a lucrative career with a major automaker to work with the hearing impaired and founded Hearing Clinic LLC 44 years ago. Kevin followed in his footsteps as did Kevin’s daughter, Natalie Carlisle, Au.D, CCC-A, FAAA, who is a consultant for the practice.
Kevin, along with his father, brothers and uncles, also has hearing loss.
“We grew up operating chain saws and power tools, and hunted without hearing protection,” he said. “Along with heredity and noise exposure, we developed hearing loss. We’ve all worn hearing devices for more than 30 years.”
Kevin gives his mom and dad all the credit for instilling the ethics and professionalism he’s used to make his practice so successful. “My upbringing, as well as my desire to help the hearing impaired, has driven me to raise my standards above everyone else because I can relate to individuals in all stages of hearing loss,” he said. “As my hair changes in color, I’m relating physically to my patients, too. There’s a common bond there.”
Each location provides complete audiologic work ups along with hearing device fittings, adjustments and cleanings. Staff schedule plenty of time with each patient so appointments don’t overlap and they can educate families on their options for improving hearing health.
“My philosophy has always been to educate the patient and their family to the best of my ability so it will enable them to make the right decision,” Kevin said. “Unfortunately, the general public has a bad taste in their mouth (regarding strong armed sales strategies). It’s very difficult for us to break that invisible barrier and say to the hearing impaired patient “just take one more step.” We don’t convince, we don’t have sales tactics – it’s a very relaxed atmosphere.”
While Bluetooth technology and computer programming have improved the options available for his patients, Kevin said he often wishes he could do more for the profoundly hearing impaired.
“With today’s technology, it’s frustrating I still have limitations with what I can do,” he said. “It bothers me at night.”
Even so, Kevin derives his satisfaction from helping individuals cope with their hearing deficiency by determining the extent of their hearing loss and presenting them with options for utilizing what they have left.
“Dad always said, 'don’t worry about the financial aspect – just concentrate on the patient’s needs,'” he said. “Every day has been pure enjoyment in helping the hearing impaired improve. It doesn’t just come from our head, it comes from our heart.”