Audiologist Monica Brace with a young client

People are becoming more comfortable with addressing their hearing issues,” said Heather Hughes, the director for community relations and development at Franziska Racker Centers. “Hearing aids used to be bulky, but now they are like Bluetooths and are bearly visible and even come in different colors. People are realizing it can be a life-changing thing to get a hearing aid.”

In the second week of May Racker Centers moved its audiology clinic out of the old Signworks building and into the newly renovated building at 619 W. State St., also the new home of HOLT Architects.

“There is a correlation between noise exposure and hearing loss,” said audiologist Monica Brace. “It is just the noise of the world and people are not wearing hearing protection.”

Although the constant wearing of earbuds and headphones, and noisy games and toys all contribute to hearing loss, Brace said that in some areas there have been improvements.

“In the past factory work was a lot louder,” she said. “Today hearing protection is a requirement in those environments.” She was also happy when she sees parents putting ear muffs on their children at loud public events and wishes that more parents would do so.

“Younger ears are not more vulnerable,” Brace said, “but the loss is cumulative over the years; you can have more loss for a longer time.” 

The audiologist noted that many studies have shown that it is better to get a hearing aid sooner than later because your brain begins to forget how to process sounds.

The clinics moved primarily to make itself more accessible to its clients. “The new location is easier to find, easier parking, and easier in and out,” said Hughes.

While the audiology office had shared space with other Racker Centers clinics in the Signworks building, and it does have more space at the new location, it did not move in order to expand.

“It’s kind of maxed out right now,” said Hughes, “but it isn’t a goal right now to increase the number of clients, not to say that we don’t see doing that in the future.”

The clinic employs a single audiologist and her services are available to the general public. The facility is Medicaid eligible, but also accepts private insurance and cash payments.

Most of the clients are referred by other doctors, but people may also make their own appointments by calling or visiting the clinic. They don’t, however, simply see clients who walk in off the street; it is too busy. §

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