Seek local professionals who are truly local. Much has been made in the press lately about businesses and jobs leaving or staying in New York State. One can easily argue the pros and cons of remaining in NY, however, it is no secret we have a long-standing tradition of excellence in the Rochester area in terms of the medical, engineering, optical, arts and academic fields. Our region is even an important and vital place to the Deaf community. We are the original home of Kodak, Xerox, Wegman’s, Bausch and Lomb, Paychex, Genesee Brewing, Hickey Freeman and many other influential businesses. Local professors and researchers are consulted regularly by national news sources. Performers such as Garth Fagan, Chuck Mangione, Renee Fleming, Cab Callaway and Lou Gramm have called Rochester home. One could conceivably live an entire day using only products, services, information and entertainment originating right in our back yard.

There is a trend in the business world to grow outward and/or expand the scope of one’s reach. Major retailers are now adding grocery market sections, optical centers, automotive areas and even hearing centers. People are likely enticed by the convenience of “under one roof” shopping, perceived low prices and “discounts”. This retail model, as applied to the hearing center, carries with it several troubling implications. Hearing instruments are sold as appliances to “customers” instead of being dispensed as medical devices to patients. True diagnostic examinations may not be performed at all (see earlier blog entries on free screenings vs. diagnostic testing). The qualifications and experience of the employees may be limited. Finally, money paid for products and services will end up primarily at corporate headquarters instead of being reinvested in the local economy.

Similarly, there are stand-alone hearing centers whose headquarters exist out of state. Some of these are large, publicly traded corporations. Their professionals typically do not have the autonomy to select from an array of product brands or services to which a local business has access. Audiology and hearing aid dispensing are equal parts science and art. A hearing-impaired person in search of help should not have to be worried that his needs are secondary to the needs of stockholders and CFOs. If you call a center, even if the phone number appears local, ask the person who answers if the call is received locally AND if the business is wholly owned locally. Often calls are routed to phone banks at corporate headquarters far from New York State.

There are several excellent locally owned and operated hearing centers in this region. We hope you choose us, of course, but no matter who you see, be sure to keep it local. You only get one set of ears!