Mercy Hearing Center | Hearing Center Interview
Marilyn Perreault, M.A., CCC-A, feels right at home as a Mercy Hearing Center audiologist, mainly because she’s always wanted to work there. “I grew up in Springfield and used to come here as a kid for physical therapy,” she said. “I consider myself very fortunate.”
And when nursing wasn’t a good fit – she didn’t want to give shots – the science and opportunity to work with older adults aspects of audiology helped lead her to a career in hearing health.
Perreault said Mercy Medical Center’s mission of caring for the whole person extends to Mercy Hearing Center as well. “Our focus is to do whatever we can to help the client understand their situation and ultimately hear better,” she explained. “If someone isn’t ready for hearing aids, we are fully able to say “think about it a little bit, then come on back and we’ll talk some more.” We never get in trouble for not selling a hearing aid.”
Her favorite part of being a hearing healthcare professional is watching reluctant clients move from a place of not wanting a hearing aid to being grateful they are communicating better. “It doesn’t happen immediately and we have to be sensitive to that,” she said.
For example, the mother of one of the hospital’s engineering staff didn’t believe she had a hearing loss and was convinced her family was lying to her. When she agreed to try hearing aids to “prove everyone wrong,” the results were surprising and rewarding. “She’s very sweet,” Perreault said. “When we put the hearing aids on her and started to talk, she put her hand to her mouth and said, “oh my gosh, you weren’t lying!” She was laughing and all smiles – such a fun reaction. Now every time she sees me, she says “Oh, look what you did!” That realization is challenging for some people, but not for her. She took right to her hearing aids and never turned back.”
Mercy Hearing Center offers workshops on hearing healthcare throughout the year which are open to the public at no charge. They also participate in local health fairs and visit assisted living facilities, where they give talks and troubleshoot hearing aid problems for the residents.
Perreault has seen a lot of change in hearing devices during her more than 30 years in the profession. “When I first started, the idea of a digital hearing aid was a faraway dream that I didn’t know would be attainable in my lifetime,” she said. “You adjusted hearing aids with a screwdriver and could make very little changes. If it didn’t work, you had to order a different hearing aid. Digital hearing aids give more options with different ways to minimize background noise. Now we can order a hearing aid and customize it to each person’s hearing loss – they’re more flexible and reduce the guess work. And, if there’s a shift in the patient’s hearing, we hook them up to the computer and make the adjustment.”
Mercy Hearing Center is part of Mercy Medical Center with main offices in Springfield and a satellite office in Agawam. Other audiologists include the manager of the hearing center, Lois Osetek, M.S., CCC-A, and Gail Brown, Au.D., Christina Lee, Au.D. (pediatric specialist) and Nancy Urcuioli, M.A., CCC-A (pediatric specialist).
“Our mission is caring for the whole person and being compassionate. It’s a big part of the hospital’s mission and our department’s mission as well,” Perreault said. “We want to be accessible to our patients and help them out as much as we can.”