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New HRRMC Audiologist Robert Furby tests hearing tones on Marji Ackermann, Director of Marketing and Public Relations while hospital CEO Bob Morasko observes. Furby will head a full-time Audiology Department and hearing aid outlet (photo by Daniel Smith).

“Silence is NOT golden, it’s lonely,” said Robert Furby, MS, FAAA – the new audiologist at Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center. He wants patients to listen – and hear, well.

The expansion of services at Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center is now well underway, and an audiologist and hearing aid provider is one of the newest.

Furby has dealt with his own hearing problems. “After playing music on the road in a recording group for several years and spending time in the U.S. Army, my hearing was pretty much shot,” he said.

“I thought I wanted to be a teacher of the deaf, but no training programs were available where I lived in Mississippi. The closest university program was for speech pathology and audiology. That’s where I went. It didn’t take long for me to decide that audiology was the best thing for me.”

He attended the University of South Alabama in the College of Allied Health, receiving a Bachelor of Science and Masters degree in speech and hearing science. The program had a stronger science component that many other program at that time.

“The program included classes in neuroscience, neuroanatomy, lots of psychology, statistics, then classes specific to speech pathology and audiology.”

Though hearing difficulties, especially among seniors are growing more common, Furby points out there is no ‘typical’ hearing problem, although most hearing loss is related to noise exposure.

“Even if people have a similar hearing loss, it will affect each one differently,” he said. “Some losses are due to the work environment, some to weapons fire, some to family genetics, and others for no reason we can find,” he added.
Some hearing loss can be easily compensated for by providing more volume, Furby said.

“Others are a matter of clarity; then more tuning of the hearing aids is necessary to provide more amplification in different areas of the speech range. No one answer works for all. Some are truly medical and need medical intervention, whether it be medicine or surgery.”

Diagnosing hearing problems is a complex process, he stated, involving “Medical review; complete audio logic diagnostics, including pure-tone air and bone-conduction testing, impedance, speech testing, hearing aid evaluations; and at times, MRIs, CAT scans and other advanced medical diagnosis.”

Treatment usually means the fitting of hearing aids and other assistive hearing devices.

“In some instances,” he said, “aural rehabilitation training, or central processing testing and training, and at times surgery or Cochlear implants.”

The latest in hearing technology will be available at the clinic, he said, and at competitive cost.

HRRMC Bob Morasko said the need for a full-time audiologist was readily apparent, and he knew it had to be of high quality and affordable.

“and it compliments our ENT,” Morasko noted, “and, with our population, 20 percent of the people have hearing problems, and the older you get the more you have, so we actually probably have higher than 20 percent with a need for this service … and we wanted to have local access for affordable hearing aids,” he said.

“We are offering better technology at a cheaper cost than most anybody in Colorado,” Furby added.

“Our hospital does not have the buying power of a corporation such as Costco. We try to provide the best in service and care of our patients and their hearing instruments. At this point, in order to keep cost as low as possible, we are not taking insurance and are working on a cash-only basis.”

“Hearing loss affects everything,” he said. “You can choose to deal with it and try to make your life better with modern hearing-instrument technology or you can do nothing, blame everybody else, and sit in a world of silence. Silence is not golden, it’s lonely,” Furby added.

Furby will see patients at the ENT Clinic, 920 Rush Drive, adjacent to the HRRMC campus. For an appointment, call 719-530-2309.