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Business Profile: Hutch and Litchfield Hearing Centers

Time to get your hearing checked?

    It’s a new year! Have you put on your new year’s resolution list — ‘get my hearing checked?’ Hearing loss causes frustration for those who have trouble hearing and is equally frustrating for family and friends. Tom Eggimann of Hutch and Litchfield Hearing Aid Centers can relate to how hearing loss can affect everyone. Eggimann recalls when a grandfather came into his office to get his hearing checked and told him the story about his 5-year-old grandson. His grandson was talking to him, and all grandpa did was nod his head when he was trying to answer his grandson’s questions. His grandson talked to him for quite awhile and then went over to his grandma and said something to her. After his grandson left the room, grandpa asked his wife “What did our grandson say?” “He said ‘grandpa can’t hear me anymore.’” That brought tears to the grandpa’s eyes because he didn’t want to lose communication with his grandson. He said “I don’t want that little guy growing up, telling me stories and me not being able to hear them.” Eggimann tested the grandfather’s hearing and applied the proper hearing aids. Grandpa could hear again and once again tears came to his eyes as he talked about how much better he could hear the little boy. There are 34 million people in the United States that have hearing loss, but only 20 percent have done something to improve their hearing. For many, it takes years of struggling with misunderstanding speech in conversations, not hearing in noisy social settings and difficulties listening on the phone before they seek help with hearing aids. Helen Keller was asked, “Which was worse, loss of sight or loss of hearing?” She said, “I am just as deaf as I am blind. The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important than those of blindness. Deafness is a much worse misfortune, for it means the loss of the most vital stimulus– the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir, and keeps us in the intellectual company of man. Blindness separates us from things, but deafness separates us from people.” Hearing loss is invisible and painless. It can also develop over time. If you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, visit a hearing healthcare professional to take a hearing test. Hearing loss has many causes, but the most common are: exposure to loud noise, family history and the natural aging process. Hearing loss can also be caused by: ototoxic drugs (certain antibiotics), viral and toxic illness and disturbances of fluid in the inner ear. Eggimann started with Hutch Hearing Aid Center in late 1995 as an employee. He has a Bachelor of Science degree with the University of Minnesota and has met the requirements for National Board Certification in Hearing Instrument Science. He purchased the Hutch Hearing Aid Center in 2000 and expanded into Litchfield in 2006. His goal is to provide his patients with the best hearing possible through the use of hearing aids. He believes the most important part of his business is helping the customer to achieve the best hearing possible. “It’s not so much the brand name of the hearing aid, it is vital to our business to provide the best care we can to our patients. Treat people the way you want to be treated and they will come back,” he emphasized. There are people who need hearing aids but think they are too old to get one. Eggimann said. He calls it the green banana syndrome — I am so old why should I invest money in a hearing aid when I am not going to be around much longer? But Eggimann recalls helping a 102-yearold lady from Hector who wanted a hearing aid to improve the quality of her life. She lived on a farm with her son and two or three generations beneath her. She was very much involved with her family, and she didn’t want to miss anything that was going on. She sat in the middle of the room and observed all the activity. She had a hearing aid, but it wasn’t working very well. We got her a new hearing aid. There was no resistance. She wanted to know what was going on. She lived to be 107. She had a very positive outlook on life and didn’t want to miss anything. George Lee, of Hutchinson, has been going to the Hutch Hearing Aid Center since 1999 and is very satisfied with everything they do. “Tom really worked with me and did a really good job. If I had to go back to a hearing place I would go back to them,” Lee said. Joining the Hutch and Litchfield Hearing Aid Center in 2006 is Eggimann’s son-in-law, Karl Benson. He is married to Eggimann’s daughter Carla. They have three children Luella, Silas and Simeon who, according to Benson are three little “potential audiologists.” He also has certification in Hearing Instrument Science. Eggimann said he has the patience and persistence in identifying and solving the common problems that come up as people adapt to hearing aid use. He also said, his son-in-law has an easy-going nature and wry sense of humor. Eggimann said “It’s not uncommon for patients that we have worked with for many years to ask as they come in the door, ‘is that young guy in today?’ I could not have found a better guy to work with me,” Eggimann said about his son-in-law. “He is very comfortable working with senior citizens.” A third staff person at the Hutch and Litchfield Hearing Aid Center is the receptionist, Pam Pulkrabek. Pulkrabek worked at Cash Wise in Hutchinson for 20 years and for nine years at the Hutchinson Hospital. She is very familiar with the people of the area and enjoys her job very much. “They (Tom Eggimann and Karl Benson) have the integrity and experience to help people with hearing loss,” she said. “And I immensely enjoy working with them. I’ve been amazed to see these guys fix broken hearing aids that most other places would say need to be replaced with new ones.” Pulkrabek started working with them in June of 2012. Another client of the Hutch and Litchfield Hearing Aid Center was an 18-year-old high school girl. She didn’t think she had a hearing problem, and she answered all the questions. But she was struggling in school with her grades. It turns out she was good at lip-reading. When Eggimann held a paper over his lips and said something to the girl she didn’t know what he was saying. He did further testing and found she was nearly completely deaf and that is why she was struggling with her school work. Because of her frustration with school she was not planning on going on to college. She was equipped with a good pair of hearing aids and that turned everything around. She did better in school, and at the end of her high school years, she came back to the Hearing Aid Center and said she was going on to college at Mankato. Morris Iverson, of Litchfield said, “they go out of their way to please you. You can get in quickly and don’t have to wait a long time. Sometimes I just go in to talk to them.” Their mission statement says it all: “Our mission is to improve the lives of people with hearing loss through better hearing. We provide comprehensive hearing care services, including complete hearing screenings, hearing loss rehabilitation and counseling.” The Hutchinson office, located at 903 Highway 15 South, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Litchfield office, at 711 E. U.S. Hwy. 12, is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To make an appointment to set up a consultation you can call 1-800-628-9165 or the Hutchinson office at 320-587-7557 or the Litchfield office at 320-593-0333. They also have a website at “Your connection with people and your communication with family, friends, and loved ones, is the most valuable part of your life. You want to make the most of that,” said Eggimann. We wish you a Happy New Year and would like to invite you to the Hutch and Litchfield Hearing Aid Center for a free hearing evaluation. January is when you can receive big discounts for previous customers and first time customers. It’s a new year and if you are having hearing problems put it on your list to visit the Hutch and Litchfield Hearing Aid Center and take care of the frustration of impaired communication with family and friends. Mark D. Ross, Ph.D., says it best: “When someone in the family has a hearing loss, the entire family has a hearing problem.”

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