Have you heard? There is a new hearing center in Alexandria.

John Christopherson examines the inside of a patient’s ear at Legacy Hearing Centers in Alexandria. Contributed photo

Legacy Hearing Centers, located at 507 North Nokomis, opened its doors last month and is now taking appointments. The new hearing center is owned and operated by husband/wife team John and Gina Christopherson.

A visit to Legacy Hearing Centers will start with a conversation and a thorough exam.

“We test people’s hearing and evaluate them for hearing aids,” said John. “We want to get a baseline and determine whether they are healthy enough to be a candidate for a hearing aid. We look for medical conditions, and if there are medical conditions, we refer them to an ear nose and throat doctor or an audiologist. We want to know that we can safely administer the test and that the results will be valid. If there is anything that might affect the validity of the test, there is no point doing it.”

If the patient is a candidate for a hearing aid, Legacy Hearing Centers can fit, sell and dispense hearing aids. John and Gina will take care of patients after the hearing aid is fitted to make sure that it is the right hearing aid for them and is set properly for their lifestyle. Some things to consider are budget, cosmetic preference, social preferences, career demands, hobbies and other physical challenges, among other things.

John recording test results from a patient at Legacy Hearing Centers. Contributed photo

“It is really incredible what the hearing aids can do now,” he said. “They are getting smaller and have more technology than ever before. And while most hearing aids are similar, there are differences, and there are certain hearing aids that work better for different lifestyles,” he said.

When a person’s hearing is improved, their life is often improved on multiple levels. One of those levels is their connection with their children and grandchildren.

“We have made it one of our goals to help re-connect generations,” said John. “I would love to help get families talking to one other. We often hear complaints from people who say they can’t hear their grandchildren.  In many cases, we can fix that. If I could make a few people closer to their grandpa or grandma because they are able to connect better, this will be the best job in the world.”

The cause of reconnecting generations is important to the Christophersons. It is also personal.

“Gina just lost her father this spring,” said John, “and he was a story teller. We don’t want to lose those stories.  Because once they are gone, they are gone. When grandpa just sits there by himself and isn’t active in conversations because of a hearing loss, the stories aren’t being told. We are able to help people hear better and reconnect families, that is the real rewarding part of this job.”

Better hearing also can lead to a much better quality of life.

John during his days in the Marines. Contributed photo

“It gets them out there and living again, instead of sitting in the apartment with the TV cranked up,” he said. “Hearing loss can happen at all ages, but the older patients tend to shut down and isolate themselves when they are not hearing like they should. People get used to the quiet world. Better hearing can bring them out of that and start experiencing life. Family sometimes pushes them into it and families can do that. Some people need that push to get in and get that help.”

John also noted the link that has been established between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“If they are not hearing properly, it puts them at much higher risk for these problems,” said John. “It makes a real difference in people’s lives.”

John also enjoys helping veterans.

“I can help streamline veterans into the VA system and help them in whatever capacity I can,” said John, who is also a veteran.

John’s path to Legacy Hearing Centers was a long and winding one. After graduating from high school in Moorhead, he enlisted in the Marines.

John in front of an EMS helicopter. He worked on helicopters like this one for several years. Contributed photo

“I was a heavy lift helicopter crew chief, CH53E models,” he said. “The Super Stallion was my baby at that time. I was a mechanic and an air crewman so when it flew, I flew.”

Christopherson was exposed to a lot of loud noises during these years.

“I have grown an appreciation for those who need hearing protection. Fortunately, I don’t have that much of a loss, but I have an appreciation for those who do because of what I have been through,” he said.

After six years in the Marines, John returned home and joined the North Dakota Air National Guard unit where he worked on F-16 fighters.

“I was a crew chief and a maintenance controller,” he said. “I was in the guard for 18 years.”

During this time, John also worked as a civilian aircraft contractor at the Grand Forks Air Force Base on Huey helicopters, and then went into emergency medical services. He did maintenance for LifeFlight and then LifeLink helicopters in Fargo, St. Cloud and then Alexandria.

Last year, Christopherson decided a career change was needed. He and his wife started looking at different options. They saw a listing for a hearing center in Alexandria and pursued it.

John Christopherson opened Legacy Hearing Centers last month. Contributed photo

“I trained with Mike Larson and was licensed,” said John.

Gina, who owns a photography business, will be helping John at the office on certain days of the week. The two have been married for seven years. Both John and Gina are active in the Alexandria Veterans Bugle Corps, the Marine Corps League, the Toys for Kids program and other community organizations.

Legacy Hearing Centers is open Mon. 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Tues. 7 a.m.-5 p.m., Wed. 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Thurs. 9 a.m.-7 p.m., and Fri. 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

To make an appointment, call 320-219-7744 or email John@LegacyHearingCenters.com. To learn more information, visit LegacyHearingCenters.com.

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