EarCare PA | Hearing Center Interview
What do a former speech pathologist and firefighter have in common? When they are Karen Cowan-Oberbeck, Au.D, FAAA, CCCA and Glenn Oberbeck, BC-HIS, it’s restoring communication to individuals with hearing loss.
Karen was originally a speech pathology major in college but realized diagnostics were more her forte. Glenn was a police lieutenant, paramedic and firefighter.
“My kids were growing up and I was working nights, weekends and hurricanes,” he said. “I wanted to find something career-wise I could do and not miss it.”
When the ENT practice they were working for changed direction, the husband-wife team decided to open their own place. Today, the Oberbecks own EarCare PA, with locations in Melbourne, Merritt Island and Indian Harbour Beach. Other staff include Beatrice R McCabe, HIS, Mark Kubilus, HIS, and Andrew Clarke, HIS.
“A lot of practices were joining large medical groups. I was completing my doctorate and it seemed like a good time to open our own place. We made the decision to stay independent, and we think that’s a good thing,” Karen said.
“Since we don’t have to deal with profit sharing and big box rules, we have the luxury of being very discriminate with how we spend time with our patients,” Glenn added.
Their patient care philosophy is simple – focus on the problem, fit the hearing device correctly, validate that it fits properly and train the patient to use it effectively.
“There’s no greater responsibility than helping people communicate again,” Glenn said. “There’s no cutting corners, no fast way to get it right.”
While Karen loves solving the mystery of what’s going on with each patient’s hearing and finding the best solution to address it, Glenn’s favorite part of the profession is staying abreast of new technologies.
Glenn, a hearing aid user, said he can empathize with the hearing loss community. “The biggest challenge is overcoming the negativity associated with amplification,” Karen said. “Some people have very closed minds and don’t recognize how much better their lives can be.”
EarCare PA conducts hearing awareness presentations in local assisted living facilities and nursing homes. They are also members of Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau.
Both Oberbecks are very committed to each patient, even when they aren’t willing to accept their hearing loss
“Anybody can put a hearing aid in somebody’s ear,” Glenn said, “but the critical factors for success are proper fit, proper sound quality, proper training and proper validation.”
“…and we do all of those,” Karen added.