Paul E. Ashbrook, Owner, Founder and Operator of Ashbrook Audiology and Ashbrook Hearing Connection, Inc.
July 22, 2015
Hearing loss is a substantial physical ailment that many citizens of Martinsville and Henry County grapple with controlling, and often, it’s not given the highest priority over other health issues.
Paul E. Ashbrook, founder, owner and operator of Ashbrook Audiology, has a plan to help area residents correct their hearing at a low cost through the Ashbrook Hearing Connection, Inc., a nonprofit hearing healthcare organization.
Through its PUP (Pick Up the Pace!) grants program, The Harvest Foundation recently granted $10,000 to “Get the Ball Rolling” on Ashbrook’s program for low-cost hearing correction. His program is two-fold; the first being a sliding scale clinic where patients with hearing issues can be evaluated and given hearing instruments if needed, and the second is a program with business and community partners to serve as donation sites for used hearing instruments.
“The hearing clinic will be housed in existing Ashbrook Audiology practices in Martinsville and Danville with special hours and days specifically for hearing clinic patients,” Ashbrook said.
“Nothing is given free – patients will have to pay something, but it will be based on their ability to pay. We can make it work for them.”
Patients also will be required to complete a certain amount of community service to help pay for their hearing instruments. Ashbrook said he hopes others throughout the community can get involved.
“If folks can’t do the community service piece, they can have someone do it for them, or others from the community can complete community service and fill out our service sheets for use toward someone else’s hearing instruments. We hope folks who don’t have any hearing loss can also get involved here.”
Ashbrook said he welcomes doctor’s offices, business and community partners to volunteer as a hearing instrument donation site.
“They will have an emblem to display in their windows, or where it’s convenient, that designates them as a hearing aid donation site,” Ashbrook said. “We’ll be able to put some brochures in their office so people can read about what we’re doing, and we hope to use the names and logos of the businesses that help in our communications and marketing piece. We’re going to make sure everyone who gets involved will be recognized.”
Allyson Rothrock, president of The Harvest Foundation, said Ashbrook’s program is unique and has the potential to help many residents throughout Martinsville/Henry County.
“I can’t imagine how difficult it is for area residents with hearing loss to do the everyday activities that those without hearing impairments take for granted,” Rothrock said. “This is a unique program in our community that can help so many people improve their quality of life. We’re proud to support programs in Martinsville and Henry County that can really make a difference.”
Ashbrook said he’s passionate about this program, the idea of which came out of a work conference in Ft. Wayne, Ind. He said after his work associates showed him this model and how it all worked, “I just thought it was awesome. I know there are a lot of folks with limited access to healthcare who can’t afford hearing correction through traditional means. They need new opportunities like this to get help.”
He estimates around 6,700 people in the region who could benefit from this program.
“I don’t know if people really think about how much hearing deficits affect them,” Ashbrook said. “Hearing is not just about communicating with other people. Sound does a lot of different things for our brains. Think of our brain as a computer – it’s only as good as the information we put in it. If we’re not hearing properly, our brain is not functioning properly.”
Ashbrook said hearing loss is one of the world’s most prevalent birth defects and has been associated with Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, isolation, and many other medical issues including diabetes. He also said hearing loss can have a detrimental effect on the economy with loss of productivity and a decrease in job performance.
“We’re so grateful to Harvest for helping us get this program off the ground and raise awareness of hearing loss in our community,” he said. “Every day, I see the positive changes hearing correction gives someone. I live with hearing loss myself, so I know how good they (hearing instruments) are, and I know how much of a difference they can make for folks. I hope this program will be an avenue for people to get the help they need.”