Q: What services do you provide? A: We are a freestanding, non-medically based facility providing Audiology, Community Services for the Deaf and Speech-Language Pathology. All programs provide community outreach, advocacy, education, and student training/mentoring.
Q. Do you serve people of all ages? A: Yes, we have no age restrictions at all. We see very young children (babies can have their hearing tested!) to those over 100!
Q: What are your hours? A. Hours vary by location. Emergency sign language interpreting is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days per year. Please call (513) 221-0527 for more information.
Q: Do I need a doctor’s referral to come to you? A: No. There are cases, however, when your medical insurance company may require a referral. This is not our requirement. Please call our office at (513) 221-0527 x 129 (audiology) or x 116 (speech) to have your specific questions answered.
Q. What insurances do you take? A. We accept most insurance plans and are a participating provider for a long list of insurance companies. Please call our office at (513) 221-0527 x 129 (audiology) or x 116 (speech) to have your specific questions answered.
Q. If my insurance does not cover your services, will I have to pay for them? A. Yes, there is a fee associated with our products and services.
Q. Are there ever times when the consumer is not required to pay? A. Yes, you may be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for certain services (such as American Sign Language Interpreting); you may receive a referral and authorization for payment from Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Workman’s Compensation, Bureau of Disability Determination, etc. Generally, if this is a private matter and you are initiating the appointment, you will be expected to pay for your product or service.
Q. Because you are a Non-Profit Agency, are your prices considerably lower than the other providers in town? A. No, our prices are average, neither high nor low. We keep them at market rate to be fair to the other providers. In addition, every time we serve someone who has the financial means to pay for products or services, it helps us to provide the same for someone who cannot. While for profit companies put the extra into salaries, commission and bonuses, we put any theoretical “surplus” into our charitable services program so that others may have the benefit of overcoming obstacles to communication.
Q. So what is this Charitable Services Program and who qualifies for it? A. This is a program for individuals who have no other possible means of purchasing the products or services they need. Depending on the amount of donor dollars we are able to secure on a year to year basis we are able to help as many people as we can. There is not an unlimited amount of funds in this program. Nor are the products or services free. Individuals are required to complete an application and provide proof of all forms of family income and will then receive correspondence back from us regarding the amount of discount they qualify for based on that year’s federal poverty guidelines. There is also, at times, a waiting period of undetermined length based on funding.
Q. What do people do who truly have no money and need, for example, a hearing aid? A. We live in a State that currently provides one analog hearing aid every 4 years for adults (and 2 for children) for those individuals who qualify for Medicaid, which is the health insurance program for those who are indigent, living in poverty. This is discretionary (for adults) and may, at some point in time be a benefit that is eliminated from the State budget. The amount that Medicaid reimburses the provider is low so many practitioners choose not to accept this form of payment. It is, however, part of our mission and we feel strongly about providing this for the community.
Q. So, if I have the means to go anywhere in town to purchase hearing aids, why would I come to HSDC? A. For many years the Center has been known as the premier provider of hearing aids for several reasons. First, we employ only audiologists, not hearing aid dealers or fitters. This training requires a Masters or Doctoral degree. In addition, none of our clinicians make a commission or bonus, they work on straight salary. Their livelihood is not dependent on what they sell, or if they sell. Third, we have no loyalty to any single manufacturer. We have accounts with literally dozens and while it would be foolish to dabble in that many at one time, the option is always t here. Our clinicians tend to get expert in several different brands and models at a time, until something new and more sophisticated comes along, is tried and true and proven, and then they begin to dispense that. We pay our clinicians to take continuing education constantly so they stay up to date and are on top of the latest trends. Because we are accredited by several different funders, we obtain outcomes measurements to ensure every hearing aid fitting is successful. We use state of the art instrumentation and evidence based clinical practices.
Our best outcome is a satisfied patient who tells others who become satisfied patients!
Q. How much do hearing aids cost? A. Hearing aids come with a wide range of options. These are not like fancy bells and whistles that are there for ornamental reasons only. Depending on your lifestyle and listening needs they can make the difference between true happiness with your amplification and a lot of compromises. The entry level hearing aids are obviously the least expensive and start at approximately $1700. These are best for individuals who spend the bulk of their listening time in quiet environments and are rarely in background noise. The mid level technology is suitable for people in quiet as well as some background noise, and there are some of the features of the more sophisticated premium products but in more modest versions, so while there may be adaptive digital microphones they would only be able to handle one noise source, noise reduction is effective, there is an automatic volume control and optional bluetooth. These are approximately $2400. The premium hearing aids are best for individuals who want to hear well in a variety of challenging listening environments and want the highest degree of clarity. These have adaptive directional microphones, handling multiple noise sources, noise cancellation in extensive channels, premium sound quality, high level feedback control and other features. These are $2900. In the world of hearing aids, it is true that you get what you pay for.
Q. How often do the hearing aids need to be replaced? A. Like everything else in this digital world we live in, constant progress means constant upgrades. In addition to the hardware changes, think of what we call the “rainforest effect” on a tiny piece of expensive electronic digital technology. You are putting this small instrument into a moist, dark waxy ear for 12-18 hours a day, everyday. Eventually, it says “enough!” even with the best care, there is normal wear and tear. Between those two factors the average life of hearing aids is 3-5 years.
Q. So, if I do decide to buy hearing aids from you, do you have a payment plan? A. There are actually a few options here. You can use your own credit card and pay that off on your own time or we can provide you with information on a program called “care credit”, and help connect you to this program which is just like a payment plan. You can look them up at www.carecredit.com for more information.
Q. Can I donate used hearing aids to you? A. Yes, we accept hearing aids for donation. Most we can not re-use, although some, if behind the ear models in very good shape we can use as loaners. We typically use these for demonstration, graduate student training, educational purposes or sell back to manufacturers for salvage. We can not put a value on the contribution letter; you will have to speak to your accountant about how to value this donation.
Q. Do you offer lip-reading classes? A. Yes! While we don’t call it that specifically, we encourage everyone who purchases hearing aids to attend a series of classes, called patient education program (PEP), they are no charge and we encourage not only the hearing aid user to attend but the person’s communication partner as well (spouse, child, etc.). During this series we review optimizing your listening environment, strategies to position yourself and others, using assistive devices, using visual cues, role playing, etc. Lip reading is included in this!
Q. What about sign language. Do you teach that? A. Yes, we offer a series of classes, run throughout the year. Please check our calendar for the next series.
Q. How many sign language interpreters work here? A. We have approximately 8 staff interpreters and a group of 30 freelance interpreters that we call upon during peak times when all of our staff is at jobs or an assignment comes in that is either after hours or over the weekend. We provide 15,000 hours of sign language interpreting per year so we are a pretty busy group!
Q. At what age can a child be evaluated for a speech language delay? A. When there are known medical issues, such as Down syndrome or hearing loss speech-language pathologists are usually at work early in the child's development. If a child appears to be developing typically, but not babbling and gesturing by 12 months and has no spontaneous words by 16 months, he/she can be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist to determine whether there is a delay.
Q. Do you offer group speech therapy sessions? A. Yes, your speech language pathologist will recommend a group if it is appropriate for your child.
Q. Do you offer special summer speech therapy programming? A. Yes, we send information out every year beginning in March about our summer offerings.