Reviving a quiet community
In the southeastern part of Kentucky, deep in the Appalachian Mountains is one of the country’s economically poorest regions, where it appears to be a higher rate of hearing loss here, likely a result of excessive noise exposure from working in the local coal-fired power stations. Unfortunately, hearing aids are mostly unobtainable here - largely due to the cost of the technology and the inaccessibility of health care.
Place & Year
Project PartnersRed Bird Mission and Clinic
The organization, Red Bird Mission and Clinic, has been operating in the Red Bird River Valley since 1921, providing educational support, job training, medical care, and community assistance. This assistance also benefits poor families under their care who would not otherwise be able to have hearing aids. The Hear the World Foundation began supporting this project in 2008. In addition to the provision of hearing aids, since 2014 Hear the World has been financing the work of Angela Hubbart, a nurse to ensure access to long-term basic hearing care, and since 2008, every year Hear the World sends volunteers.
A day in the life of Angela Hubbart
Angela grew up in the local region. After completing her training to become a nurse, she underwent advanced training in hearing aids, their care and follow up. And thanks to the support from the Hear the World Foundation, she also took part in training courses at the Phonak office in Chicago. All year round, Angela takes care of the patients. She continually reaches out to see that the patients are wearing their technology and talks them through problems or offers patient education and new batteries. She also organizes and coordinates the quarterly visits from volunteer audiology teams and makes sure that they all work according to the same protocol, thus ensuring consistency in the treatment provided and the patient database.
Support by Sonova volunteers since 2008
Despite Angela ensuring the basic ear medical care, the clinic relies on the support of Sonova volunteer teams. Those teams since 2008 visit the Red Bird Mission several times a year – except during the tough winter months, when the area is often cut from the rest of the world. During the volunteer visits, the volunteers are in the community to host hearing screenings. They make adjustments, repairs and ensure the recipients of the Phonak hearing aids are getting the most from their technology.
Jill von Büren, one of our volunteers (first from the right) produced the Foundation's first 360° video, so everyone can experience a day at the Redbird Mission. To find out more about her experience in Appalachia, read her blog on hearinglikeme.com.