As Stan Clemence listened to Via Christi audiologist Susie Ternes give a talk on interacting with people with hearing loss, he starting thinking hearing aids might help him.
As Clemence started assessing various situations he'd found himself in - a family gathering, a group meeting - he realized he probably had some hearing loss.
"Going into a group situation was like give it up," said Clemence, an Information Technology trainer for Via Christi Health. "I wasn't hearing people like I needed to. I had tinnitus and I was attributing some of that to the tinnitus."
Tinnitus is a symptom in which one has a fairly constant ringing, buzzing or whooshing sound in one's ears. Clemence, 59, says he's dealt with the condition since his 30s.
After tests with the audiologists at Via Christi Rehabilitation Hospital showed he had a classic loss of hearing at high frequency ranges, he was outfitted with sophisticated digital hearing aids that can be programmed and adjusted for a person's specific hearing loss.
With a controller that he wears around the neck, he can adjust between programmed setups and the volume for each ear. He can also use the aids with a Bluetooth device and plug them into a box attached to his home television set to control the TV volume for his level, rather than making an adjustment that affects everyone else watching TV.
"The product they provided me is head and shoulders above the hearing aids that my mother has and about 25% less than her price," Clemence said.
"It's really cool," said Clemence, who teaches an IT concepts class at Butler Community College.
On his first night of class, he asks his students to talk about how advances in information technology have improved their lives, and he shares his hearing aids experience.
"They have really, really helped me and the audiologists have been super nice folks to work with," Clemence said.
Via Christi audiologists also do mandatory hearing tests on all newborns born at Via Christi Hospitals on Harry and on St. Teresa, said Audiology coordinator Mary Horsch, Au.D. In 2010, they conducted tests on more than 2,800 newborns and identified six with hearing loss who were fitted with hearing aids - one was fitted at age 1 month.
Besides doing hearing assessments, audiologists at the Via Christi Rehabilitation Hospital use sophisticated equipment to test patients for sources of problems with dizziness or balance issues, which often can be traced to inner ear-related issues. Audiologists are trained to work with the entire inner ear.