Enid Rappaport, M.A., CCC-A, FAAA can’t remember the last time she’s taken a proper lunch hour, but that doesn’t bother her. As a practicing audiologist for more than 40 years, she is committed to going the extra mile for her patients – even if it means giving up her lunch hour to accommodate one more walk-in.
The ENT Center of New Jersey has locations in Nutley and Harrison. Rappaport works with two ENT physicians with the same patient care philosophy. “Both the doctors and myself really care about our patients and put them first above everything,” she said. “I never turn a patient away. They are important and entitled to that type of commitment. If someone needs to be seen, you get them in no matter what.”
Her favorite aspect of being a hearing healthcare professional is the satisfaction she receives from making a difference in somebody’s life “I get so much back from my patients,” she said. “I find them interesting, especially the older ones – there’s so much wisdom there!”
Besides battling patient expectations, Rappaport said the most challenging aspect of her job is combating the stigma surrounding hearing aids. “I really have to counsel patients about the improvements and vast differences in technology compared to what we used to have,” she said. “Demonstrations help. And when I hear them tell me about their friend whose hearing aids collect dust sitting on their dresser, I very simply tell them to encourage that friend to go back to the hearing aid specialist. “There’s probably something they can do for them,” I say, “just as I intend to do something for you”.”
Rappaport runs a hearing event open house twice a month for people in the community who don’t have insurance and need a hearing test. “Insurance is a major, major problem – especially for the elderly,” she said. “Sometimes a patient on Medicaid doesn’t meet the criteria and they just don’t have the means to purchase hearing aids.”
One of her favorite hearing device success stories involves a young woman in her 20s with a profound hearing loss. “I fit her with power hearing aids and a streamer. Her mother lives in Columbia, and she had never been able to speak to her on the phone. When she came back in she told me she was able to hear her mother’s voice. She was smiling but crying at the same time.”
Technology has changed significantly from the trim pots and screwdrivers Rappaport used to adjust hearing aids when she first entered the profession 40 years ago. “We could make hearing aids loud, louder and loudest,” she recalled. Now, digital technology, combined with the discreet, cosmetic look of today’s hearing instruments allow her to address a wide range of hearing loss – from mild to the most severe.
“Our philosophy is to assess what the patient needs and do whatever we can to help them,” she said. “The fact that I made a difference in somebody’s life, however small and insignificant, is what keeps me going. That’s why people become a patient – they’re looking for a better quality of life. We’re all looking for a better quality of life.”
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