Salem nonprofit boosts hearing health
A new nonprofit based in Salem targets hearing health and aims to help the under-insured population of Marion County.
The Norm and JoAnn Frink Hearing Foundation announced on Dec. 22 its intentions to ensure that everyone in Marion County has access to quality hearing health care, regardless of their insurance status or income.
The foundation's website maintains that "good hearing health is essential for good physical, mental and social health. To that end, we are dedicated to providing access to hearing aids and services to those in the Marion County, Oregon, community who are uninsured or otherwise cannot afford hearing health care."
Foundation officials cited data from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders showing that hearing loss is the third most common chronic disease in the United States, yet less than one in three adults with hearing loss currently use hearing aids.
The data also indicate that untreated hearing loss has been linked to cognitive decline and increased risk of falls to social isolation and increased unemployment. Research shows that treating hearing loss with hearing aids can mitigate these risks in most patients, but amplification remains out of reach for many.
"Hearing aids can be expensive for patients with no insurance coverage," Foundation Executive Director Bryan Greenaway said. "Our goal in starting the foundation was to help patients find resources that may be available to help with that cost and to provide hearing aids to those who have no other means to better hearing. Sometimes patients have options available to help that they had no idea existed. It can be a confusing process."
Greenaway said prospective patients can fill out a short questionnaire, which will identify available resources. The foundation will follow up, guiding applicants to those resources or fitting them with donated hearing aids. Foundations resources are prioritized for patients making less than 200% of the federal poverty guideline's income level.
Norm and JoAnn Frink are longtime Salem residents and original Salem Audiology Clinic owners, a family business now operated by their children.
Salem Audiology Clinic inspired the new nonprofit.
"The original inspiration for our charitable program came back in 2005 when we started our 'Gift of Hearing Program' for the holiday season," said Salem Audiology Clinic co-owner and Foundation Board member Scot Frink. "We invited community members to nominate people they felt deserved hearing aids but couldn't afford them. We ended up fitting nearly 20 people that first year."
Greenaway underscored that seeing a greater need in the community than could be met with the seasonal program, Salem Audiology owners and one of their employees set out to create the new nonprofit.
"With this holiday season already proving to be different from any other, the importance of good communication has become even more evident," Greenaway noted. "The Norm and JoAnn Frink Hearing Foundation team say they are ready to serve their community and make sure everyone has access to good hearing today and for years to come."
Address: 3857 Wolverine St. N.E., Ste C-16
Salem, OR 97305
Web: frinkfoundation.org; facebook.com/frinkfoundation; salemaudiologyclinic.com
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