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Baystate Wing and Mary Lane Audiology Team Celebrate the Gift of Hearing

August 07, 2019

The Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital audiology (hearing) team recently hosted a patient appreciation breakfast at the Ludlow County Club to celebrate the gift of hearing with over 170 of their hearing aid patients from throughout the region. In addition to thanking patients for choosing Baystate Wing, Ludlow, or Mary Lane for their audiology and hearing aid care, the annual event was an opportunity for the audiology patients and their guests to learn more about the wide variety of healthcare services offered at the hospital. This year's event was also an opportunity to welcome Cassandra Hawk, the newest member to their team of hearing professionals.

Cassandra Hawks, Au.D. joins the Audiology Team

Cassandra Hawk has been a member of the audiology team for over a year, working full time as an intern as she finished up her doctorate in audiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Now that she has graduated with her doctorate and has her license, she is staying in the department and is a full time audiologist for Baystate Eastern Region.

“I am so thrilled to be able to remain part of this fantastic team and to continue to see and serve the patients I have grown a relationship with. My passion for working with this community began in 2016 when I had my first clinical experience working at Mary Lane Hospital, and since then, my love for this community, my patients, and my field has deepened further. I am very blessed to be able to be able provide hearing health care to such a wonderful community in such a wonderful work environment.”

15% of Americans report some trouble hearing

According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing and one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss.

“Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in how well you can hear, and is one of the most common conditions affecting people of all ages," says audiologist Deborah Stroetzel. “Hearing loss is a common problem caused by noise, aging, disease, or heredity, and can have a big impact on a person's quality of life, both physically and emotionally.

Hearing loss has been linked to stress, depression, loneliness, reduced job performance, and reduced physical and emotional health. People with hearing loss may find it hard to have conversations with friends and family and they may also have trouble understanding a doctor’s advice, responding to warnings, and hearing doorbells and alarms. All of this can be frustrating, embarrassing, and even dangerous,” said Stroetzel.

“There are many causes of hearing loss and it is often treatable,” says Sheila Tzoumas. Tzoumas joins fellow audiologists Stroetzel and Hawk to ensure that all patients receive accurate, up-to-date information to help them find the best possible solution for their hearing loss.

“It is important to first figure out what’s causing the hearing loss to determine the right treatment. Hearing loss tends to isolate people; often hearing aids can bring them back into the mix. Depending on their hearing loss, we offer a demo program where our patients can try hearing aids for a short time. Our patients often return saying wearing the hearing aids not only enhances their hearing, but also improves their ability to participate in life again,” said Tzoumas.

The Audiology and Hearing Improvement Center Locations

The Audiology and Hearing Improvement Centers located in Palmer, Ware and Ludlow offer routine hearing tests, specialized audiological testing, and tests for middle ear function. In addition, the audiology team offers a comprehensive hearing aid program and provides hearing aid evaluations, demonstrations, fittings, adjustments and cleanings. Special services such as swim plugs, noise protectors, and musicians’ earplugs are also available.

Out in the Community

Out in the community, the Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Audiology team offers free clinics at the Palmer, Ludlow, and Belchertown Senior Centers. Here, the audiologists provide hearing screenings, check ears for wax, and clean and check hearing aids at no charge. Seniors can call their local senior center in order to schedule an appointment for the free clinics; Palmer Senior Center (413) 283-2670, Ludlow Senior Center (413) 583-3564, Belchertown Senior Center (413) 323-0420.

“Along with the audiology screenings in the community, in 2008 the Baystate Health Eastern Region Audiology Honor Fund (AHF) was established by an anonymous donor to help provide financial assistance to eligible individuals in the Quaboag Hills and Pioneer Valley Regions,” said Stroetzel. “Since the program began, more than 40 honor fund recipients have received financial assistance for hearing improvement aids thanks to the generosity of the donor and many other donations that have helped to continue to grow the fund.”

Applications for the honor fund are now being accepted, and recipients must meet certain criteria in order to obtain funding through the AHF. The necessary criteria includes: the applicant has a yearly income of less than 20% of the federal poverty level, and is serious about wearing a hearing aid. Applications are available in any of the audiology offices or can be mailed by calling 413-370-5499.

To make an appointment with Deborah Stroetzel, Sheila Tzoumas, or Cassandra Hawk in Palmer, Ware or Ludlow, please call 413-370-5499.