When you say the words “Dominican Republic” (DR), what do most people think of? Warm sunny weather, beautiful blue ocean, Caribbean breezes, and resorts on sandy beaches. But there is another side to this Caribbean paradise that very few are aware of. Many Dominicans suffer from hearing loss due to outbreaks of measles, mumps, and rubella that ravaged the country for years. Several of our own e3 Diagnostics team members and customers are involved in a worthy cause to help people hear better in the DR.
Hear For a Purpose, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has the sole purpose of providing hearing screening, diagnostic testing and hearing aid fitting to the underserved population of the Dominican Republic.
The organization was started by an Audiologist and current e3 Diagnostics customer, Joe Dansie, Peak ENT Associates in Provo, Utah. While studying for his Au.D. at Utah State University he traveled to the DR on a humanitarian mission and recognized a need for hearing healthcare on the island.
After going back year after year, HFAP was founded by seven Audiologists in 2016 and the group embarked on their first “official” trip as a charitable organization. During the 2016 trip, they were able to diagnose and fit 32 residents with hearing aids, igniting a shared passion to help the people of the DR that would have them coming back every year to continue the work they had started.
The Need for More Professional Involvement and Development
Quin Card, Au.D., Regional Sales Manager for e3 Diagnostics, noted, “The Dominican Republic does not have any audiology programs. While some Latin American countries have what they call Audiometrists, the DR doesn't have those. They have no recognized hearing healthcare programs of any kind.
We did some basic audiometric training while we were there this time, and we are going to record some videos and make our own program to train a few individuals to be able to do testing and fitting of hearing aids moving forward.”
A windfall came about this past year from another non-profit called Meeting God in Missions (MGM), a PA-based nonprofit that runs a school for the Deaf in DR. MGM had a small building that they had been using for their school. When MGM built a new, larger facility, the smaller original building was offered to HFAP to house their permanent hearing clinic – which enabled HFAP to build and install a sound booth there.
Quin added, “None of this comes about on its own. We need a lot of help, and we work with another non-profit in the DR called Oír Para Vivir – which means Hearing For Life. They have an outstanding leader named Nathaniel Leherisse who takes an active role in the organization's daily activities. His daughter has a cochlear implant and he got involved because of that. He has been instrumental in growing it from the ground up. They are supported by Hear For A Purpose, one other group from France, Audition Solidarité, and MGM.”
Steve Wood, National Service Director at e3 Diagnostics, who volunteered his time on the most recent trip to DR, stated, “This past summer we built a new sound booth and installed several previously owned hearing testing devices and diagnostic equipment. It was very rewarding being part of the HFAP team.”
Jim Becker, Regional Sales Manager at e3 Diagnostics, shared his thoughts about the trip. “Quin had told me in the past about the progress that Hear for a Purpose was making. Then last year he presented Hear For A Purpose at the e3 Diagnostics National Sales Meeting. There were lots of photos of smiling faces of individuals from the DR receiving their hearing aids. It really brought home the power that Hear For A Purpose provides.”
Quin reported that in 2022 the clinic saw over 250 patients in just one week and was able to test, diagnose, and fit hearing aids for those children and people that needed them…a significant increase from the 32 children they saw in 2016.
The goal of the organization was always to establish a stand-alone clinic in DR that could be open year-round and become self-sustaining. Now that the dream is underway, HFAP wants to scale and duplicate, creating another clinic in the Dominican Republic and/or other areas of the Caribbean.
As far as staffing the current clinic, the long-term goal is to continue to provide hearing evaluations, diagnostic testing, and treatment for all the DR residents who need hearing healthcare. HFAP hopes to create a fund large enough to send someone to school in the US to become trained as an audiometric technician. That person would then work full-time at the DR clinic and be able to train others.
Chalese Buttars, Au.D., Educational and Training Specialist at Oticon, reflected, “I really appreciated seeing the work of HFAP and Oír Para Vivir to not only identify hearing loss and fit hearing aids, but to also provide follow up care and look to the future to ensure that the work is sustainable. Having the opportunity to go in 2022 and see the booth and donated equipment set up was incredibly exciting because that truly was the next step toward sustainability. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity I have, to go with the group and see how the work continues to grow.
How e3 Diagnostics Helps
For the past two years, e3 Diagnostics has supported Hear For A Purpose by raising funds through their consumable supplies website, mye3shop. e3 also donates a portion of all Sanibel Supply items sold to HFAP, and e3 also donates the proceeds of each pair of mismatched red and blue "Ear socks".
In addition to helping obtain the sound booth that was installed this year, several e3 diagnostics offices also donated previously owned audiology equipment.
How to Join the Cause
If you would like to reach out to offer help, volunteer your time, donate equipment, services, or make a monetary donation, you can find HFAP at https://hearforapurpose.com/. They also have a Facebook page with some videos if you would like to learn more.
Audiologists that know about HFAP have donated both BTE and RIC hearing aids from all over the country. Quin stated that having both types of hearing aids is so helpful because depending on the kind of hearing loss a child or adult has, they can be fitted properly and have the best outcome.
Quin Card shared with us, “We have a friend in DR, Evelina Rodriguez, who is a movie star and news anchor. She is a real champion for our cause and has done so much to raise awareness down there. Here in the states, it's just word of mouth. With our website, Facebook page, and word of mouth about our mission, we want people to know that we would love to be able to get hearing aids, working equipment, or monetary donations to keep our mission going strong. As a 501(c)(3), we're also on Amazon Smile. We genuinely appreciate any help that we can get!”
Back row left to right: Steve Wood (e3), Tony Garcia, Nathanael LeHerisse (Oir Para Vivir Foundation in DR), Johnny Foster (US Air Force), Quin Card (e3), Lincoln Dansie, Joseph Dansie (Peak ENT Associates), Jim Becker (e3)
Front Row: Dave Schlotthauer, Patty Wood, Chalese Buttars (Oticon), Heather Jensen, Candi Bown (Nebo School District), Brittany García (Southern Utah ENT), Brittany Bown (Peak ENT Associates), Tif Dansie (CPI VRA Systems), Kade Jensen.
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