Tuesday, October 21, 2014

School Screenings Battle Hearing Loss in Children and Adults


Judy Boles was a hard-charging sales representative when she was ready to slow down a little in 2001.

Turns out lots of people are happy she ‘changed it up.’
 
Boles is industrial service director for the Center for Hearing & Speech (CHS).  It was not exactly a position she intended to fill. “I came in off the streets to do data processing,” she said. “I’d never worked for a non-profit.”

Soon after she sat down at a desk, Boles, who also has extensive management experience, was asked to take over the Center’s Hearing Conservation Services Program. Founded in 1972, its goal is to prevent noise induced hearing loss in employees working for companies in high noise environments 85 dB (decibels) or higher.

The for-profit arm of CHS pumps its net revenues into the Center’s other programs. When Boles took over it needed a hard-charging booster club. What it got was a 5’ tall enthusiastic cheerleader with laser-like focus who got the program up and running at full speed. Today it serves more than 300 businesses within a 300-mile radius of St. Louis that are mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to check their employee’s hearing once a year.
 
“I am sold on our mission,” Boles said. “We have a purpose. We’re helping people who would never have been able to get hearing aids (get them).”

Boles credits her tightly-knit staff for much of the program’s success. They include McKenna Bellamy, M.A., CCC-A, industrial audiologist, and technicians Barbara Bristol; JoAnne Nathan; Alyssa Pursley; Rodney Nathan; Douglas Teel; Steve Ford and Larry Waltermann.

The Hearing Conservation Services Program has two large trucks in which it tests the hearing of approximately 25,000 industrial workers. Test results are provided immediately to workers and Bellamy follows-up to ensure all questions and concerns are addressed.

Boles would like a third truck to expand the Center’s reach to more area employers. “At about $100,000 fully equipped, they’re expensive,” she said.
    
Approximately 5.2 million Americans are exposed to hazardous noise in the workplace every year, according to OSHA.

 “I highly recommend this program to employers that are required by OSHA to test their employee’s hearing,” said Lynn Canada, RN, BSN, worker’s compensation coordinator for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “The staff’s knowledge is exceptional.  I have complete confidence in their method of testing and verification.”  Canada also likes the program’s customer focus. “CHS’s customer service is foremost in any company I have used prior,” she said. 
  
Boles will attend the St. Louis Safety & Health Conference Tuesday, October 21 at St. Louis University (SLU) Busch Student Center.

“We partner with OSHA and SLU to sponsor this premier safety and health conference,” said Chris Merli, CIH, CHP, CHMM, executive director, Safety Council of Greater St. Louis.

Merli expects 300-plus attendees and 70 exhibitor booths. The conference offers five different presentation tracks and covers the most up-to-date information on worker safety issues, she said.

The Center for Hearing & Speech is a 501 c (3) non-profit that last year provided $1.7 million in speech, audiology and school screening services to residents in metropolitan St. Louis and surrounding communities.

For more information about the Center’s Industrial Services Program, call Judy Boles at 314-968-4710 or check it out on the web at www.hearing-speechstlouis.org.
                                                                                

  



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