Starkey Hearing Foundation returns

by Glen Simon, Ministry of Health

The Starkey Hearing Foundation returned to Saint Lucia to commence screening for over 600 persons in need of hearing aids. Screening commenced on Monday, Nov. 13, and will end in the first week of Jan. 2018.

Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean, Tamiann Young explained that the foundation focuses on providing hearing aids for persons who are not in a position to afford them.

"The foundation also provides a lifetime support of batteries but importantly too we provide aftercare services for the patients to whom we provide hearing aids. We have 54 sustainable programs around the world and in the Caribbean region. Saint Lucia is part of who we work with."

To identify the persons requiring hearing aids the foundation has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Ministry of Education, specifically for support with sign language interpretation, the Rotary Club and Digicel among others.

Kirk Richards the International Development Director for Starkey Caribbean Region indicated that in January, the Starkey team will be focused on ear cleaning and doing impressions for selected clients totally free.

"The services we provide are totally free to the patients. What we've done is to work through ministries to help establish programs that can carry out the duties when we are not here. So we will be training nurses, we will be training local volunteers. Just to mention we've partnered with a number of organizations the first time around. So we've partnered with the Rotary Club with partnered with the EMT Association, so those partners we are looking to reengage and to be involved in this phase one mission as we move forward. But all the services are totally free to the patients all we provide is true after care services as well so not only when we do the phase one mission, we will also be doing a phase two mission come I think April, we will also be fitting those hearing aids as well."

Assistant Principal Nursing Officer, Julietta Frederick-Cassius stated that the Ministry of Health has enjoyed a fantastic working relationship with the Starkey Hearing Foundation and urges persons to take advantage of this opportunity.

"There has been excellent collaboration. We had the team here in May of this year and we did a lot of work with them in terms of fitting hearing aids for persons and they are back again with us this month. So basically what we want all persons to know is that if they have any family member who has any hearing problem, they may not be sure but what they believe they need to have their hearing tested we are asking person to go to two health centers on the island and that is the Vieux Fort Health Centre and the Entrepot Health Centre where the hearing tests can be done."

Cassius added that ear screening will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays at the two wellness centers by well qualified and trained nurses. Bases on the results of the screening the nurse may refer clients for further screening by the Starkey team when they return in January 2018.

"So this will be another phase of the project. So if a problem is detected you will be fitted with a hearing aid based on the further screening that will be done. So we really want to urge Saint Lucians to take this opportunity."

Cassius pointed out that many things within one's environment can affect their quality of hearing and encourages persons to visit the Entrepot and Vieux Fort Wellness Centers if they have any concerns. The Starkey Hearing Foundation believes that hearing is a vehicle to reflect caring and to improve the lives of individuals, their families and communities.

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