This summer, 9-year-old Rachel Postier traveled with the Newton Community Children’s Choir to a music festival in Chicago. The group sang challenging five-part harmonies.
“She’d say, ‘Mom, I just love that sound,’” says Michelle Postier, Rachel’s mother. “For her to be able to say that is something special.”
That’s because Rachel and her younger sister, Esther, both have hearing loss. Thanks to care from an audiologist at Via Christi and hearing aids provided by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, both girls are able to participate in their family’s passion – music. Michelle teaches piano and her husband, Brian, is an elementary school music teacher.
“This whole family’s life revolves around music,” says Mary Horsch, audiology coordinator for Via Christi. “The idea that their children wouldn’t be able to hear what their genuine love is – that’s devastating.”
Discovering hearing loss
The girls’ hearing loss is genetic. Brian has been deaf in his right ear since birth. But the Postiers’ oldest daughter, 13-year-old Naomi, passed her newborn hearing screening. So did Rachel.
Esther, now 7, failed hers, although her hearing loss was not severe enough to warrant hearing aids at that time. But that was enough for Michelle and Brian to begin suspecting that Rachel may have had hearing loss as well.
“She wouldn’t respond, and she wouldn’t hear things right,” Brian says. “She was frustrated, and we were frustrated.”
In June 2007, when she was 4, Rachel failed a hearing test and was fitted for hearing aids.
The Postiers, who live in Newton, were suddenly faced with the prospect of paying for hearing aids, which typically run $3,000 to $5,000 per set. Health insurance often does not cover that cost.
But Horsch had good news: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Via Christi Health, which is administered by the Via Christi Foundation, can provide full funding for a child’s initial set of hearing aids.
“It is a huge blow initially just to find out your child has hearing loss,” Michelle says. “And the next step is that you need to buy hearing aids and they’re going to cost thousands of dollars.
“It was just an amazing relief — and a huge blessing — to find out that Children’s Miracle Network will cover this.”
Two years later, when Esther was 3, her hearing had deteriorated to the point she, too, needed hearing aids. Again, the Postiers turned to CMN Hospitals for help.
Rachel and Esther still wear the hearing aids they received from CMN Hospitals. They have yearly appointments with Horsch to check their hearing and, often, to get new hearing-aid molds to fit their growing ears.
Both girls play piano and hope to follow in their parents’ footsteps as musicians.
“It hit us hard,” Michelle says of learning both girls had hearing loss. “We had so many questions: What would happen next? What does it mean for the future? Will they be able to do music? Will this affect their speech later in life? But then you realize these problems are fixable. There are solutions.”