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!
Hear for the Holidays Winner 2018
Dorothy is looking forward to a Christmas miracle, the miracle of talking with family members coming to her Escondido home on Christmas Day after years of being left out of the family conversation because of hearing loss.
“It’s going to be a new experience for mom,” Dorothy’s daughter Donna said.
It will also be a new experience for some of the younger members of the family who haven’t experienced Dorothy in her full element.
“I’ve always been a social person,” Dorothy said, which was greatly inhibited by her hearing loss.
She’s been shut out of conversations for the past 15 years as her hearing deteriorated and she was unable to afford quality hearing aids.
“Every time we used to talk, she would have to ask what we just said,” Donna said. “We’d constantly have to repeat it. It tries your patience.”
Instead of losing her patience altogether, Donna wrote an essay for the Hear for the Holidays contest, sponsored by Palomar Health’s Director of Audiology David Illich, Au.D. and Oticon. This was the 14th year of the essay contest, with the winner receiving state-of-the-art Oticon hearing devices donated by Oticon and fittings and lifetime checkups from Dr. Illich.
When Donna told Dorothy she had won the essay contest and Dorothy would be receiving new hearing aids, Dorothy said, “I was so excited; I couldn’t believe it.”
Since being fitted with the new hearing aids, Dorothy says a whole new world has opened. She says when she walks outside she hears sounds she’s never heard before. When she dances, she can hear the words to the song. When she talks to people at the senior center, she doesn’t have to pretend like she knows what they are saying.
“I would just nod a little (when engaged in conversation). Now I can hear,” Dorothy said enthusiastically.
There is a gentleman at the senior center she used to think mumbled but after getting the new hearing aids she said, “I found out he doesn’t mumble; it was my hearing!”
The other day hundreds of people attended Donna’s art show and she noticed her mom talking with lots of different people.
“She had conversations like I’d never seen before. She didn’t have to keep asking people, ‘What did you say?’”
All the rediscovered socialization has Donna especially excited about the holidays. “This Christmas is going to be magical because we’ll all be sitting around the table, and there’s going to be a lot more engagement (from mom).”