When Andrea Urquiola was 14, her grades started slipping. Living in Brazil, her parents assumed their daughter was lazy, and simply not trying in school. Andrea knew better; she made the connection between her hearing impairment and her studies suffering.
Growing up hard-of hearing, Andrea said, “The hardest thing was missing some of the words from someone sitting next to you. Making friends was really hard.”
Andrea lived ten years without hearing aids, because regardless of what her parents thought, hearing aids were too expensive.
Then, when Andrea was 24, she moved to Miami. She got her first job at Publix and saved enough to buy her first hearing aid. Finally her days of asking people to repeat themselves were over.
The Hearing and Speech Center of Florida met all of Andrea’s needs.
Now married with two boys, Andrea is a supervisor at Whole Foods Supermarket. Before visiting HSCF, Andrea used a different brand of hearing aid, and experienced a lot of unwanted background noise.
Her first day with HSCF, Andrea was provided with personal attention by the center’s resident clinical audiologist, Maria Ortiz.
Maria called the hearing aid manufacturer to correct the problem and was able to attain a different brand for her patient, negotiating with the manufacturer to bring the price down. “Maria understands the environment I work in,” Andrea said. “She told me what would be the best brand for me, and worked with the companies for a discount.”
When Andrea’s oldest son Daniel was born, she and her husband were informed that Daniel also had a hearing impairment.
“When we found out about Daniel’s hearing loss I said, ‘He’s not going through what I went through,” Andrea said. “I want [Daniel] to do well in school. I could have done better if I had hearing aids sooner.”
After trouble with multiple hearing aid brands, Andrea brought Daniel to the Hearing and Speech Center too.
“Daniel and Maria get along great,” Andrea said. “He met Maria and said, ‘Mom, she’s so beautiful.’ She has a passion to help.”
Thanks to the help of the Hearing and Speech Center and attending speech therapy at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Daniel shows no trace of his hearing loss.
As the third leading chronic disability, hearing loss affects 10 percent of children and 50 percent of the elderly population. In children, hearing loss results in lower levels of learning and difficulty in acquiring basic social skills. The inability to acquire language impedes the continual process of brain development and lessens school readiness.
Most hearing loss does not require medical or surgical treatment, and can be easily treated with amplification (assistive hearing devices). To combat hearing loss in children, the Hearing and Speech Center offers complimentary hearing screenings in Miami-Dade public schools. Sophisticated equipment is used, and every child’s results are forwarded to the school and his or her parents. If a follow-up screening is needed, the screeners will refer the child to a doctor.
The cost of hearing aids is one of the most difficult challenges in providing hearing aids to children. A new hearing aid is recommended every three to five years. If a patient has Medicaid, a pair of hearing aids is covered once every three years, but most private insurances do not cover hearing aids.
HSCF offers competitive hearing aid prices, which include a 30-day trial period along with access to hearing aid manufacturers that offer the latest in digital hearing aid technology. Follow-up care such as quarterly cleanings and adjustments, and batteries for the life of the hearing aids are also included.
Andrea said that her sons notice immediately when she doesn’t have her hearing aids on in the morning. “They say, ‘Can you put your hearing aids on?’ We would not have the quality of life we have now without them.”
May is National Hearing Month. Give your mother the gift of renewed communication on Mother’s Day with a free hearing screening at the Hearing and Speech Center of Florida. Complimentary hearing screenings will be provided at the open house event May 21-24. Financing for hearing aids is available, percent APR for up to 24 months. Call 305-271-7343 for an appointment.
The Hearing and Speech Center of Florida is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and United Way member agency that services more than 6,200 clients, the majority children, annually. Services include hearing-speech-language screening, in-depth professional evaluation and therapeutic intervention. Adjustable fee scales are available for qualified applicants. The center is a multilingual agency providing services in English, Spanish, Creole and American Sign Language. It supplies all brands of hearing aids, no matter what the manufacture.
Visit www.hearingandspeechcenter.org or call 305-271-7343 for more information.