On August 8-16, 2018, Dr. David Illich and some fellow audiologists flew to the remote areas of Bethel and Aniack, Alaska to fit the Inuit and native residents with quality hearing aids. This population is in the Delta region of Alaska, and is not accessible by road. The residents in these areas have no access to hearing health care. The Oticon Hearing Foundation provided the hearing aids. Oticon partnered with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC), a Tribal Organization that administers a comprehensive healthcare delivery system for 58 rural communities in southwest Alaska.
The audiologist volunteers fit over 100 people with sustainable hearing care and hearing aids to adult and children. The volunteers provided hearing tests to more than 200 patients and fit more than 150 hearing aids donated by the non-profit Oticon Hearing Foundation. Dr. Illich noted, “Most residents had similar hearing losses. Severe, mild-to-high frequency nerve hearing loss due to hunting.” Many families noted that they “had just given up on trying to talk with their hearing impaired family member or friend.” It was a most beautiful experience to give so many families this great gift of communication. There were so many hugs and tears after we completed the hearing device fittings.
The lifestyles of these people are so unique compared to those of us “in the lower 49 states.” Dr. Illich heard so many amazing stories of their lives and unfortunate results of suffering hearing loss. The greatest gift is being able to give a hearing-impaired person the ability to clearly hear their family and friends voice. Communication is life.
David M. Illich, Au.D. and Kathleen Illich, were thrilled to join Starkey Hearing Foundation’s 2016 Hearing Mission in Mexico (Dec 4-9, 2016). In just these few days Dr. Illich and his wife, Kathleen helped fit over 1000 individuals in Tuxtla Chiapas and Merida Yucatan with hearing aids.
We are incredibly proud to support this amazing program and to serve as a donation center for hearing aids and hearing aid components (which are recycled and help keep this worldwide program going). If you or someone you know have hearing devices that are no longer being used, you are welcome to donate them and help empower individuals just like these, to achieve their full potential with the gift of better hearing.
Let’s keep recycling the gift of better hearing!