Edwin Ryan, president of Beltone Hearing Center, knew he wanted to locate his next store in New City. He first visited during the summer when numerous construction projects were under way. After looking at seven different locations, he still was uncertain until his employee Byron Robertson convinced him to visit again.
That led to directly to the new store newly opened at 365 South Main Street in New City. It is the eighth hearing center opened by Ryan, whose territory for covers from New York City to Albany and across into Connecticut. His other locations are in Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Carmel, the Bronx, Kingston and Stamford, CT and he anticipates opening several more in the Hudson Valley.
Ryan said getting people to undergo a hearing test can be a challenge. They can be in self-denial that they are losing their hearing because they can turn up the volume on electronics. Very often, spouses bring their partners for hearing tests and children are the ones to convince their parents.
“They don’t realize it,” he said. “They realize they’re not only affecting themselves.”
Ryan said people may miss out on many things if they are losing their hearing, which occurs gradually over seven to eight years, and they do not take steps to help themselves. They may not hear higher pitched noises such as smoke alarms or the voices of their grandchildren. Hearing loss can be a safety issue.
“It’s natural progression of life,” said Ryan, who noted the average age of his patients is 69. “When we can help people hear again, it’s the most gratifying thing. People come in here and cry, ‘I haven’t heard in church in 10 years’.”
Advances in technology apply to hearing aids also. Ryan said everything is digital and the TV can be streamed to the hearing aid as can a cell phone call. Hearing aids can be adjusted to minimize wind noise for golfers.
“Everything we do is state of the art,” he explained. “All we do is we fit hearing aids. We're experts in hearing aids."
Ryan and his employees, Robertson who administers the hearing tests and dispenses hearing aids, and Jessica Bieler, the operations manager, will be reaching out to senior citizens and community centers. Free hearing tests can be scheduled and home visits are available.
A hearing consultation lasts about 60 minutes and determines if the patient suffers from hearing loss, which ranges from mild, moderate, or severe to profound. It involves use of an audiometer with low and high frequency tones and a word discrimination process.
If a patient requires a hearing aid, he or she will receive it in about a week and then will visit the center several times to have it adjusted to improve hearing gradually. Ryan explained that insurance companies do not consider hearing loss a disability although he believes it is. They cover 10 percent of the cost, which can run from several hundred dollars up to $5,000 or $6,000.
Beltone Hearing Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday by appointment. The phone number is 845-499-2700.