MORE than 800 Jamaicans residing in Kingston and St Andrew, St Thomas and St Catherine are candidates for hearing aids.
Of the 887 people who were assessed by Minnesota, USA-based Starkey Hearing Foundation on a recent three-day mission trip to Jamaica, 826 were found to be candidates for hearing aids.
Those targeted for the mission include students from the various schools for the deaf, patients from a database provided by the Jamaica Association of the Deaf, National Council for Senior Citizens, and others with disabilities.
International director of the Starkey Foundation Kirk Richards told the Jamaica Observer that the three-day mission is phase one of an ongoing project. Richards said phase two will take place December 3-6 this year.
He added that the people who showed up were able to access ear screening, cleaning if necessary, a voice test, and impressions of the inner ear from which custom moulds will be created.
“The voice test determines the severity of loss. Once they pass/fail there, then we go to education section before moving to the fun part, which is the ear impression. We take an impression of the inner ear, take them to final counselling, which ensures they keep their ID card with the unique ID number they were assigned,” Richards explained.
“Everything is then sent back to Minnesota where custom moulds are designed with each patients unique ID number,” Richards continued. “This ID card is going to be their card going forward. It also has a service number for who they can contact in case of any issue.”
Dane Richardson, CEO of Digicel Foundation, explained that if they were to pay the average cost for a hearing aid, it would cost them between $80,000 and $100,000.
However, there is hope for the 826 people because a donation of US$175,000 was made at the Starkey Foundation’s gala on Sunday to support phase two of the project.
More donations can be made at www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org.
This year’s honorees at the gala included Oscar-winning actor Ben Affleck and First Lady of the Republic of Zambia Esther Lungu.
For this mission, Starkey, which has been around since 1984 and has done missions to countries in Africa, Asia, America, and in the last two to three years the Caribbean, partnered with Digicel Jamaica Foundation to provide the services at no cost to those who benefited. Other partners included JPS Foundation and the Chinese Benevolent Association.