October 28, 2013
Two local hearing specialists are working together to give the gift of hearing. Michael Combs and Jimmy Stewart are fitting Hospice patients with hearing aids and they're this week's heroes.
Michael Combs and Jimmy Stewart can usually be found at their offices at Hearing Healthcare of Virginia in Charlottesville and the Harrisonburg location, but not all of their time is spent at work.
They also volunteer. For the past few weeks they've been giving the gift of hearing to Hospice patients using donated hearing aids.
"We're taking these devices, taking them to wherever they're at, giving them a quick hearing test and fitting them and giving them these hearing instruments for as long as they need them at no cost to them," said Jimmy Stewart, Hearing Instruments Specialist, Hearing Healthcare of Virginia.
May Kingsman is in Hospice care at the Hospice of the Piedmont in Charlottesville.
She recently had trouble hearing out of her left ear. Stewart and the Hospice hearing program found out about her condition and stepped in to help.
"Before I had the hearing aid, I couldn't hear very well and there is the hearing aid now and I hear everything very well," said May Kingsman, Patient, Hospice of the Piedmont.
The pair say, hearing well is important especially during this critical time in a patient's life.
"Not only does it (hearing aid) help them communicate with their loved ones...especially that time of their life, communicating is so vital…whether it's with their doctors, caregiver or just those final weeks or months they have with their loved ones. We're giving them the ability to communicate," said Stewart.
"To be able to hear a grandchild say I love you grandma...there's nothing more that we can say to that. It's beyond words," said Michael Combs, Hearing Instruments Specialist, Hearing Healthcare of Virginia.
Although, they help people hear everyday, they say there's something even more rewarding about helping Hospice patients like May.
"It's just a way for us to really give back to the ones in the community and surrounding areas to see the effect that it has on the patient, but the family members," said Combs.
"It's been really a privilege to do it. I had one patient. She hadn't had a real conversation with her father in years and just said 'daddy, it's so nice to talk to you again.' How can you put a price on that? It's really been wonderful," said Stewart.
With a little donated time and a small hearing aid, they're able to make a big difference. It's a difference that allows Hospice patients to hear and enjoy their last special moments with the people who mean the most.
The free program is available to patients in Hospice care at the Hospice of the Piedmont and Southern Care Hospice of Staunton. It's open to patients who do not have the means to buy hearing aids or cannot travel to get them.
The hearing specialists say they're always in need of donated hearing aids. If you have hearing aids that you would like to donate, you can drop them off at Hearing Healthcare of Virginia.