Tim Cross, education and development director of Earzlink in Hillsboro, told The Times-Gazette that coinciding with the Memorial Day weekend, it is now an authorized provider of hearing health care services for local veterans through a new affiliation with the Veteran’s Administration.
“What that means is that anyone who is entitled to veteran’s benefits for hearing aids can come to our office and we can access the VA portal, get them into the system and see what they qualify for,” he said.
Cross said at that point his company will be able to provide not only hearing aids for those qualifying veterans, but could also provide hearing care services in Hillsboro instead of forcing them to drive to veteran’s facilities in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus or Chillicothe.
According the President’s Council for Science & Technology, the average hearing aid price is $2,300 per ear, but Cross said in some cases the veteran’s benefit can bring that cost down to zero dollars.
“Some people don’t know if they have benefits though the VA for their hearing,” Cross said. “If they do qualify for hearing benefits, in most cases they would receive their hearing aids at no cost to them as well as the care that goes with it, and oftentimes that benefit includes their batteries.”
For those veterans who for some reason don’t quality for hearing benefits, Cross said they have Earzlink Veterans Choice, which is based upon the best managed care program available and is offered free of charge.
Jodie Gervais, an audiologist with Earzink who is now credentialed into the VA program, said the entire process is a basic four-step procedure.
“Step one is the evaluation process and that’s followed by submitting approval for the evaluation,” she said. “The second step is when the approval comes back from the VA, we submit the recommendation of amplification for the patient, and when that’s approved, we go to step three where we get the product and do the fitting, and after we submit that information with the final step being the follow-up to make sure everything is working properly, or the conformity as we call it.”
For many veterans, she said, hearing loss is service related and began when they were active duty in loud engine rooms, testing facilities or in actual combat with grenades and artillery shells exploding around them, and then their hearing worsened with time.
“A lot of them come out of military service with intense ringing in their ears,” she said. “Tinnitus is the most common complaint I hear as an audiologist, which is a constant low-level buzzing or hissing, and there is now some masking that we can put into the hearing instrument that doesn’t get rid of tinnitus, but will give a person a degree of relief from having to hear it all the time.”
Cross said Earzlink’s ultimate goal is to provide hearing aids for free, with the veteran being responsible only for the warranty coverage on the instrument and the follow-up hearing care package.
He said Earzlink has offices in Hillsboro, Washington C.H, Reynoldsburg, Springfield and Tipp City.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.