Healthy Hearing conversation | Joan McCormack, Au.D.
Dr. Joan McCormack may have more than 30 years of experience providing and managing hearing healthcare services, but she attributes the success of the hearing care center she founded in 2007 to her employees and colleagues.
“We have an amazing team,” she said of the staff at Atlantic Hearing Care, Inc. “I’m incredibly fortunate to work with the people that I do. They’re all very skilled and really focused on doing what’s best for the patients. Not everybody wants to come in and have an evaluation or get hearing aids. We try to make it pleasant and have a good time in the process.”
Atlantic Hearing Care, which has offices in Swampscott and Peabody, Massachusetts, is a fixture in both communities and celebrated its ten year anniversary in June 2017. Not only is Dr. McCormack active in Rotary and both Chambers of Commerce, she also teaches a segment on hearing loss as part of a Life Long Learners course at the local university. In addition to Dr. McCormack, staff include Lisa Carnevale, BC-HIS, Dr. Megan Hoben and patient care coordinators Karen Tracchia and Melissa Cersosimo.
“We do a lot of outreach with lectures and presentations to local senior centers and physician practices,” she said. “Honestly, the majority of our referrals come from existing patients and the second source is our local physicians. A lot of it is word of mouth.”
Because Atlantic Hearing Care is an independent audiology practice, Dr. McCormack can pick and choose from a variety of hearing aid manufacturers and levels of technology to fit what’s best for the patient -- both children and adults. The best part of her job? “Getting to know the patients and working with them to meet their needs,” she said. “Everyone is different. Enjoying each individual and what they bring to the process is very enjoyable.”
Dr. McCormack says the most frustrating and disheartening part of her job is that good hearing care is out of reach for too many people due to lack of insurance coverage and the high cost of devices. Inspired by this, she founded North Shore Hearing Foundation. The nonprofit helps provide hearing devices for members of the community who lack the income and insurance coverage necessary to address their hearing loss.
“Our business has been successful and we want to give back to the community,” Dr. McCormack said. “Oticon has been very supportive in discounting and donating some devices and accessories to the foundation. We donate our time and services. We also ask people to donate their used hearing aids and have a big box of devices that can be refurbished and used for parts.”
New hearing device technology with directional microphones, advanced noise reduction, better cosmetics and receiver-in-canal (RIC) designs help Dr. McCormack accommodate her patients, even those who thought they wouldn’t benefit from hearing aids.
“I just saw an 80-year-old woman this week who had purchased hearing aids elsewhere but had never used them. Her daughter brought her in because she was visiting and was hoarse from shouting,” she said with a laugh. “I fit her with comfortable RIC hearing aids and she left the office happy as a clam. Her daughter told me she was glad I took the time to figure out what the difficulty was and why her mother wasn’t wearing the other aids.
A rewarding career
Dr. McCormack, who originally wanted to be a speech pathologist but became “hooked” on hearing science after taking her first audiology class, said she appreciates the “high-tech, high-touch” aspects of hearing healthcare.
“I’ve been able to work in a lot of different environments -- hospitals, clinics, rehab hospitals -- both as a provider and manager. I’ve always had great places to work and enjoy what I do. I feel very fortunate to have a career that is so enjoyable,” she said.
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