The Hearing Center Advocates For Audiology Patient Choice

[envira-gallery id="844"] The staff at The Hearing Center has been actively advocating for the Audiology Patient Choice act on behalf of our patients. Currently there is legislation in committee in both the House of Representatives and the Senate that will increase Medicare beneficiaries access to audiologists, with what is called ‘direct access’. Those bills HR 2276 and S.2575 will allow our patients with traditional Medicare to directly access our services.

Our staff met with the Newark, NJ staff of Senator Cory Booker in the summer. Just this past week we met with Congressman Leonard Lance of the 7th District of NJ at his Westfield office. Representative Lance voiced his support for the legislation.

It is of note that the APCA does not increase services currently offered by Medicare, and will NOT increase costs to the plan, it likely will reduce costs incurred by Medicare. Medicare advantage plans currently offer direct access to audiologists, unlike traditional Medicare. The act allows audiologists to practice within their scope of practice and to be reimbursed by Medicare for those services. Other Federal health benefit plans allow for direct access to audiologists. Reach out to your Senators and Representatives and ask them to support the APCA today!

Cochlear implant device restores hearing after years of hearing aid use

When it became clear that hearing aids weren't enough to help 9-year-old Emma Kriegstein, her parents and the audiologists at The Hearing Center knew it was time to turn to different technology to improve her hearing.

Emma, of Matawan, was born with progressive sensorineural hearing loss, permanent hearing loss caused by an abnormal or damaged inner ear. According to Dr. Eric Sandler, director of audiology at The Hearing Center, Emma's possibility to hear would likely improve with a cochlear implant, which utilizes an implanted electrode array to bypass the damaged portion of the ear and stimulate the auditory nerve.

"Patients need to meet audiological and medical criteria to receive the implant, and Emma was a perfect candidate," Sandler said.

Emma's hearing loss was confirmed when she was four-and-a-half, although she had expressed difficulties from a younger age. A neighbor referred them to The Hearing Center, which immediately recommended hearing aids. While the devices worked well for around three years, Emma's parents Elizabeth Feudale and Neil Kriegstein noticed diminished hearing in her left ear, a decline which continually worsened.

"We were shocked – even though there was a family history [of hearing loss] on both sides, nobody had trouble as a child," said Kriegstein. "We tried coming up with 1,000 excuses as to why it could be wrong, but there was no question that Emma needed help."

"We've been working with Emma and her family for several years, and we were constantly changing the settings on her hearing aids," added Dr. Stefanie Perle, The Hearing Center's lead audiologist on cochlear implant cases, and one of three audiologists working with Emma. "The hearing aid was no longer providing sufficient benefit. Her best option… was to consider a cochlear implant."

Emma received her implant this past July, and the device was activated by Drs. Sandler and Perle in August. Since activation, Feudale said that there has been a "drastic, positive" change in Emma's hearing.

"There have been major improvements large and small alike," Feudale said. "I can call for her from downstairs while she's upstairs and she can hear me. I can talk to her with my back turned and she will be able to answer me. These life improvements have made a huge difference."

"The implant has changed her life by leaps and bounds," Kriegstein added. "She has picked up on sounds we take for granted, such as a piano playing in a song, and she lights up with joy when she can hear them."

According to Feudale, The Hearing Center fought "tooth and nail" for Emma to receive the care and equipment she needed.

"The staff at The Hearing Center exhibits genuine care and concern for Emma's well-being," Feudale said. "We've been through a bunch of audiologists, and we haven't had the confidence and trust in others like we have for The Hearing Center."

"The Hearing Center has put Emma's quality of life at the front and center of her care," Perle added. "We are beyond thrilled about the progress she's made in such a short time."

Congrats To Our Top Docs!

The Hearing Center is home again to some of New Jersey’s Top Docs for Kids!

After the voting tallies came in, we were so excited to find out that Dr. Sandler and Dr. Perle were again recognized among New Jersey’s top doctors for kids.

Not to be outdone, new member of the team, Dr. Sarah Elias was selected for the first time as well! We are so thrilled for our amazing staff. Most of all, we are SO appreciative of our amazing patients who voted for us and helped us achieve this recognition.


Are your hearing aids locked and you do not even know it?

Did you know that many places that sell hearing aids offer 'locked' hearing aids, and never tell their patients this fact? "What is a locked hearing aid?" you may be asking yourself. Well, let us explain. Some chain stores like Sam's Club, Costco, Audigy, Miracle Ear, as well as branded private practices sell private label hearing aids. With private label hearing aids, it is likely that only the chain store that SELLS the hearing aids can also ADJUST the hearing aids.
For example, let's say a provider that offers private label hearing aid sells their practice or goes out of business, then a patient may be VERY limited as to where they can get their hearing aids adjusted. A patient cannot just go to any office to have their hearing aids adjusted. They must go somewhere that has access to the software required to adjust the hearing aids. Places that offer private label hearing aids often use this as a selling point. They advise their patients they can go to any of their stores and have their hearing aids serviced. Often those stores are very regionalized and many in the past have gone out of business.
When you come to The Hearing Center, we only offer hearing aids from major manufacturers. We do not try to obscure who makes the hearing aids we offer or what specific technology level those hearing aids utilize. If you purchase hearing aids from us and move away, whether it is around the country, or around the world, we will work to find you a provider that will service those hearing aids for you.
Any provider that works with the major manufacturers such as Resound, Oticon, Siemens (Sivantos), Phonak, Widex, Starkey can adjust the hearing aids we offer. This allows our patients to receive the best possible hearing health care!
For 30 years, that has always been our goal as we continue to provide Central New Jersey with the best and most comprehensive hearing healthcare there is. For more information and assistance with a locked hearing aid or anything concerning your hearing healthcare, book an appointment at one of our conveniently located facilities today!

Professional Hearing Aid Fitting Simplifies Process And Improves Outcome

THC_FB_WEB_3x1.45 The Central New Jersey news service recently ran an article on us! Check it out:

MANALAPAN, NJ -- Oftentimes during the holiday season, people who use hearing aids without advice or guidance from professional audiologists are left at a disadvantage around the dinner table. Even worse, they may not even be aware that their hearing aids are ill-fitting, leading to conversations peppered with requests to repeat jokes and stories from family and friends.

“We get patients who have had bad experiences with hearing aids, through internet purchasing or big box purchasing,” said Dr. Eric Sandler, an audiologist with The Hearing Center in central New Jersey. “Proper hearing aid fitting is a part of the hearing healthcare process, but it is not the end of the process. We provide comprehensive hearing health care beyond just hearing aids.”

At The Hearing Center, Sandler said that comprehensive hearing healthcare, aural rehabilitation and hearing aid use reduces struggles users may have with non-personalized service by ensuring that hearing aids fit and function properly, in accordance with each individual’s needs. When going to an audiologist, patients “work with a doctorate-level expert, concerned with all aspects of hearing health care. Not at the place where they buy their toilet paper.” This expert advice can often make a critical difference, when contrasted with the experience of ordering online or going into a discount store.

“At The Hearing Center, each device is expertly programmed, not just to a cookie cutter formula,” Sandler said. “We are making sure that the hearing aids we fit are doing what we expect them to do because we verify fittings and each person’s hearing loss is different. The acoustics of the individual ears need to be taken into account as well.”

According to Sandler, patients of The Hearing Center know they are receiving a quality, FDA-approved hearing aid.

“There are regulations that are often skirted around with some of these sales channels,” Sandler said. “There are guidelines regarding what can be called a hearing aid. Items that are not hearing aids are called personal sound amplifiers, and those are not necessarily regulated by the FDA.”

Comparing personal sound amplifiers to vitamins in the health and wellness industry, Sandler said that FDA regulation is in place to protect consumers looking to improve their hearing.

“Like with unregulated vitamin supplements, you don’t always know what you’re getting or if what they are claiming is true,” Sandler said. “A lot of sound amplifiers aren’t cheap. They could be hundreds of dollars, which gives the illusion of quality. Then when patients have a bad outcome with them, they assume all hearing aids don’t work because they tried them out in a less-than-ideal way.”

Sandler’s practice works with medical professionals to guarantee that any medical issues are addressed prior to fitting hearing aids.

“We often work closely with physicians to make sure that medical issues are treated,” Sandler said. “We are doctorate-level audiologists who understand the science and physiology of the ear. [Hearing aid] manufacturers will often put lesser technology in big box stores, and they tend not to have the most up-to-date technology in those sorts of places.”

Sandler said that this lesser technology -- including recent efforts to consolidate hearing aid manufacturers and outlets where the devices can be purchased -- can be detrimental to unknowing patients.

“There has been a lot of consolidation in the industry, where hearing aid companies are buying practices,” Sandler said, noting that The Hearing Center remains independent and not tied to any particular hearing aid manufacturer or representative. “People don’t necessarily know when their practices are owned by a hearing aid company, whose employees are pushing those particular products.”

Sandler explained that while the cheaper price can be appealing to those on a budget, these compromise options would almost certainly not work as well in the long run.

“People will oftentimes shop around for price -- the more important thing is to shop for the provider that they are comfortable with,” Sandler said. “So many hearing aid products are similar across manufacturers. You need the audiologist that you feel most comfortable with to ensure that you adjust accordingly. A lot of places will advertise cheap hearing aids but won’t tell you that service terms may not be included or may be less comprehensive.”

One of the ways The Hearing Center helps patients adjust to hearing aids is with free classes led by Dr. Anne Michele Puglisi, the center’s audiologist who specializes in aural rehabilitation. These classes guide patients on exactly how to maximize the benefits they derive from their hearing aids. Staff is open to questions via email as well as on their very active Facebook page.

“We give patients access to us off-hours via email, where we can be very responsive and they are not limited to our office hours,” Sandler said. “I have patients who are traveling the world, and I can troubleshoot their hearing aids via email.”

In addition to the classes, patients can draw maximum benefit from hearing aids by utilizing the state-of-the-art technology employed at The Hearing Center that fine-tunes hearing aids and guarantees that they are at full working capacity in relation to each person’s particular hearing needs.

The Hearing Center is in the news!

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  Many of our satisfied patients know us as the best place for all of your audiology needs, including hearing aids and audiological exams, but did you know that The Hearing Center is also a leader in community outreach and education?

Check it out, from our latest press release which was picked up on Yahoo News, Reuters, the International Business Times and dozens of other huge media sites! Even the Boston Globe is running our story!


New Jersey audiology practice The Hearing Center now offers free community education courses on communication-enhancing skills for those experiencing hearing loss.

"Many patients do not have a great understanding of hearing loss," said Dr. Eric Sandler, director of audiology at The Hearing Center. "Hearing loss affects you in different listening environments, so [we teach] different strategies to compensate for how the hearing loss affects them."

Aural rehabilitation classes cover strategies that enhance communication, including lip-reading and handling stressful listening environments.

According to audiologist Dr. Anne Michele Puglisi, class facilitator and aural rehabilitation specialist with the center, group settings are useful ways to learn how to cope with reduced hearing capabilities.

"The class is a perfect time for [attendees] to share thoughts or to ask questions about hearing loss," Puglisi said. "Classes give patients the opportunity to learn more about strategies they can use to improve communication.

Attendees learn how to use visual cues to improve understanding. We practice techniques using real-life situations and language. We even review technology that can complement their hearing aids in challenging listening environments."

The free aural rehabilitation class begins on Oct. 7 at 1:15 p.m. at The Hearing Center's Manalapan offices, 224 Taylors Mills Road. Additional sessions will take place at the same time and location on October 14th and 21st. Reservations are required and space is limited; call (732) 462-8412 to reserve.

For the full story including more quotes from our staff check out the release here!

And remember to make your reservations if you'd like to attend a class. You can give us a call or reach out via our contact form by clicking here.