By Tricia Larkin
In early 2023, the Eckelmann-Taylor Speech and Hearing Clinic, on the campus of Illinois State University, began a collaborative partnership with the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois. From a positive appointment that one of the sisters had at the on-campus clinic, contact from Ruth Kopec, M.S., RN Director of Nursing for the Dominican Sisters, was made. From there, the possibility of having clinical audiologists and Au.D. graduate students travel to Springfield, Illinois to help them obtain hearing aids was explored.
Sarah Laning, a medical office specialist, worked with Kopec to obtain medical referrals and insurance approval. In May 2023 three audiologists, Candice Osenga, Au.D. CCC-A, Jennifer Ragusa, Au.D. CCC-A, and Rachel Wood, Au.D. CCC-A provided the onsite hearing testing and hearing aid selection services. They returned in June 2023 to provide hearing aid fitting and counseling services for the sisters with the hearing aids that were previously selected. While providing this service for the sisters, the mission of teaching audiology to ISU students continued as three students (Nik Getzinger, Abby Larsen, and Derian Cunningham) were present to observe, learn, and participate in this process.
This outreach program provided hearing care to some of the more compromised sisters for whom traveling to the Bloomington area would have been a hardship. Further, this program provided significant financial savings of over $30,000 to the Dominican Sisters overall. Stakeholders in this outreach are hopeful of continued collaborative partnership for years to come. For those who would like more information about these services or new outreach partnerships, contact the Eckelmann-Taylor Speech and Hearing Clinic.