Ask the Expert: Hearing Care Practitioner Laurie Ann Hruska
Welcome to our “Ask the Expert” Hearing Care Practitioner (HCP) blog series! Our first featured HCP is Laurie Ann Hruska out of our Pittsburgh and Washington, PA, offices. Laurie has been with Beltone since September 2017 and has been in the hearing care business for 10 years. Let’s get to know Laurie and why she is so passionate about hearing health!
What do you like best about your career?
Educating people about hearing health and watching how their lives change over the first year of hearing aid use.
Why did you choose this career?
At first, I didn’t; it chose me. A friend knew I was downsizing my business and told the operations manager of a hearing aid company about me. He called me and asked me to come in and talk to him. I laughed because I said I know nothing about hearing aids. After several years of working in the industry I became disillusioned and I went back to being a Senior Business Analyst – then I met Suzanne Sutherland. After meeting her and listening to Beltone Retail’s mission and vision I knew that I wanted to work for Beltone.
The proof that I made the correct decision to come to Beltone has been consistently validated through the unparalleled resolutions of fixing issues of patients regardless of who made the mistake. I’m a people person – I like to impact people’s life in a positive way. In the words of Helen Keller: “Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.” How amazing is it that I can be a part of helping someone understand their favorite movie or being able to go to a restaurant and understand the waitress? The lives that are changed through hearing aids, the company I work for, the Patient Care Coordinators and HCPs I work with are truly the best I’ve ever had as a team.
What was one of your most rewarding moments as a Hearing Care Practitioner?
I have two.
This was in May. I pulled up to work and a man was sitting in his car waiting for me; he said my daughter spoke to you at The Market District and she gave me your card. After doing the case history, the test, the fitting, and several follow up appointments, I told him “I’ll see you in six months.” I pulled up to work in September and I saw the man sitting in his car. I opened the door and he came back to my office – He said, “I want to thank you for giving me the best summer I could ever hope for – you gave me back my grandson.” He was not able to communicate with his grandson which caused him to be irritable, cranky and short with the child. The child did not want to be around his grandfather because he yelled “speak up” all the time. Hearing aids can change someone’s life so drastically!
A 94-year-old woman wasn’t sure if she should get hearing aids because “she hears very well for being 94.” She came back 10 months later and thanked me for being so patient with her and that she wanted to tell me her husband passed and that if she didn’t have hearing aids, she wouldn’t have heard him say “I love you” for the last time. This makes me cry every time and it never gets old.
Do you have any accomplishments within your community you’re proud of?
Since 2001, I’ve mentored young men and women (mostly women) who have/had issues in the past with drugs/alcohol/criminal behavior – I help them with housing, resumes, clothes, life skills, etc.
What are your favorite hobbies/pastimes outside of the office?
Visiting my 1st grandchild. Going to the casino. Going on cruises.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who was anxious about getting a hearing aid, what would it be and why?
I always tell my patients the same thing – this didn’t happen overnight; it can’t be fixed overnight. You have always “heard” voices – you just don’t understand the words all the time. This process usually takes between six months to a year for you to get fully acclimated to hearing new sounds – I will be here every step of the way. Hearing never stays the same, it never gets better, it only gets worse. Hearing aids are not like glasses – you won’t have 20/20 “hearing.”
My commitment to you is that I will make sure that you will always have an appointment when you leave, I will always call you the same day if I’m in the office, and that I will make sure your hearing aids are always programmed for your current hearing loss. The first appointment is 7-10 days from today. After that-you will come in between two to three weeks. After that we will figure out a game plan based on how well you are doing. I will retest you between 12-18 months to make sure we stay on top of any changes in your hearing and that the aids are programmed correctly. Now your commitment to me is that you will wear the hearing aids from the time you get up until the time you go to bed – Can you do that? Yes. OK, welcome to the team! I shake their hand and pull in for a hug!
I do this so the patient knows that I am completely committed to them and this is a journey.