Helton Hearing Care | Hearing Center Interview
Dr. Will Helton was a college student when his grandfather, a WWII veteran, started having hearing problems. “I saw a normally happy, outgoing and super friendly guy change,” Dr. Helton said about his grandfather. “He withdrew. He wasn’t my grandpa anymore. He saw an audiologist, was successfully fit with hearing aids and by the next week, I had my grandpa back. I said 'Hey, there’s something to this profession.'” The experience was significant enough to prompt him to go back to school and get his doctorate degree in audiology after a 10 year teaching career in the U.S. and Thailand.
Helton Hearing Care, staffed by two full-time Doctors of Audiology, a COHC certified audiology assistant and experienced support personnel, differentiates itself from other providers not only by the educational qualifications of its professionals but by practicing “evidence-based” hearing care. “We aren’t afraid to see people who have very challenging losses,” Dr. Helton said. “If it’s a difficult case, we’ll schedule several appointments to fit the patient correctly. We put in the time to solve these tough cases.”
They begin the process with comprehensive testing. Then, accessing the best available research regarding the treatment of each specific hearing loss, they will spend as much time as needed to both assure the best solution for the patient’s hearing needs and to personalize their hearing experience based on individual hearing preferences. And this level of care does not end at the fitting. Patients receive four years of professional, in-office service on their hearing instruments, which includes batteries and routinely available follow up appointments. They offer walk-in hours twice a day and stock “top of the line loaners” to lend to patients if their hearing devices need to be sent away for repair.
One of Dr. Helton’s favorite hearing device success stories involves a minister who had tried for 20 years to get help with her hearing loss — and spent thousands of dollars on five different pairs of instruments in the process. “I found myself sitting in front of the kindest person who had a very, very difficult hearing loss,” he said. “She had to quit playing the organ and give up some of her ministerial duties at church because of it. It took me four hours to fit her correctly. Afterward, she wrote a testimonial saying she has a 'new connected life full of sounds, friends, conversation and laughter.'”
Dr. Helton said making a difference in the lives of others is his favorite part of being a hearing healthcare professional, a sentiment that is shared by his staff which includes Dr. Luke Emberlin, Au.D. FAAA and Crystal Avaro, COHC. One of the ways Helton Hearing Care gives back to the Bozeman, Mont. community is by providing FM systems for local entertainment venues. They also work routinely with the local Lion’s Clubs and Vocational Rehabilitation Services, where they fit patients at or even below cost.
While Dr. Helton appreciates how far hearing technology has come, he believes there’s a lot more involved in achieving success with hearing aids than the instruments themselves. “A great hearing device will only work well if it is appropriately chosen, based on thorough and professional testing, and fit precisely to a patient’s individual wants and needs. One size does not fit all,” Dr. Helton said.
“Today’s consumers are savvy but they are swimming in a sea of misinformation. It’s so easy to end up losing a lot of money. If I could tell anybody anything, I’d tell them to make decisions regarding hearing instruments the way they would make any other major health care choice. That spur-of-the-moment hearing aid purchase you make at a big-box store from a flyer you received in the mail isn’t likely to be your best solution.”
Good hearing choices helped Dr. Helton’s grandfather to understand those around him, to connect with the people and the activities that he loves, and to live his life fully engaged with his community. It is Helton Hearing Care’s mission to help everyone achieve such successful outcomes. “In our practice, we take a Zig Ziglar approach to patient care. His philosophy is if you help enough people get what they want, they’ll help you get what you want. When you take time to look at the whole patient and know where they’ve been, where they are now and what they want to do in the future, then you can fit them with the right technology.”