For 10 years, St. Lucie County athlete Mark has heard the cheers of friends and family as he competed in Special Olympics basketball, softball, golf, bowling or track and field. And thanks to the work of everyone at Healthy Community, the sounds of those cheers will never fade.
After attending a mobile screening (called Healthy Hearing) at State Fall Classic over a year ago, Mark was told that had a hole in his ear drum that was causing him to lose his hearing. When he returned home and visited his doctor, they told him the hole had healed. Yet Mark was still having trouble hearing; his friends, family, and coaches also believed that his hearing was worsening. As he waited for an appointment with an audiologist, his family was able to find him an old hearing aid that while ill fitted, improved his hearing slightly.
At his next screening, his results revealed that the hole was still there, and getting larger. This diagnosis qualified Mark for hearing aids via Medicaid, but there is a significant gap in the amount Medicaid provides for hearing services and what they cost, leaving many patients with a hefty bill for the difference.
Last month, Mark was connected with Healthy Community in South Florida, a provider of integrated health care coordination that includes primary health care to people with intellectual disabilities. This Healthy Community location is the first brick & mortar location in the nation; it’s supported by Special Olympics Florida and the State of Florida, Agency for Persons with Disabilities. At Healthy Community, Mark was fitted with a hearing aid via the generosity of Phonak, a company whose goal is to improve the quality of life of people with hearing loss, and Dr. Jackie Davie, a dedicated medical professional who volunteers her time to work with athletes like Mark.
On the drive home, Mark started moving to the beat of the songs playing on the radio – hearing the music that he had missed for so long. Not only does Mark now enjoy music and TV again, but he can also hear the voices of all his friends, family, coaches and teammates as they cheer him on.