Our latest otolaryngology—or ear, nose, and throat (ENT)—team to Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands unrolled an exciting new project this month. We partnered with Starkey Hearing Foundation to provide custom-fit hearing aids to 56 patients we had screened and fitted during our 2014 ENT mission.
Starkey Hearing Foundation's mission is, simply, "So the World May Hear," and this is where our organizations' interests align: both provide hearing services to the underserved. Founded by William F. Austin in 1984, Starkey Hearing Foundation provided Canvasback with custom-fit hearing aids, as well as additional hearing aids in various sizes and powers. The foundation also provided complete care kits, which will ensure the aids are regularly maintained and functioning.
We are excited to follow up with patients from two years ago, whom we promised we would return to and complete care. This is possible thanks to Starkey Hearing Foundation, which provided the hearing aids and has a sustainability plan for their distribution on Majuro. Our ENT team did the legwork to fit patients and train healthcare providers in aid maintenance and care.
Starkey Hearing Foundation is systematic in its approach to delivering care; it has a deliberate three-phase plan for what it calls, "Community-Based Hearing HealthCare." The plan begins with identifying candidates and ends with the establishment of a permanent system of trained community-based healthcare workers who can care for the aids and patients and ensure a lasting impact.
This, along with the extra services of our free, two-week ENT clinic and surgeries and Starkey Hearing Foundation's AfterCare Program, the community impact will be thorough and sustainable.
Nurse Agnes Flood at Leroij Atama Zedkaia Memorial Hospital was chosen as the key healthcare worker to provide follow-up care and maintenance. As the Health Services Audiology Technician, she will be able to take ear impressions, perform hearing assessments, maintain hearing aids, and hold monthly support meetings. Dr. Chris Herget, a team audiologist, provided the training.
Our ENT team consisted of volunteers—audiologists, ENT surgeons, and other professionals—from all across the US. Over the course of two weeks of free clinics, the team:
- Had 348 clinic visits
- Gave 132 hearing tests
- Took 98 ear impressions for future hearing aid fittings
- Performed 52 surgeries
- Dispensed Starkey Hearing Foundation hearing aids
- Trained 1 hospital nurse to screen and assist hearing patients
We look forward to dispensing hearing aids to the 98 patients we screened this year. In general, we are excited that Starkey Hearing Foundation and Canvasback Missions can combine efforts. We're confident, too, in Starkey's careful aim for sustainability.
Over the next few years, we hope to see the changes brought to the hundreds of Marshallese who will sit in classes, participate fully in the workplace, and reconnect with their loved ones.