For many Americans, hearing aids are a necessity, but they are also financially unattainable. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids, but the high cost creates a barrier to access.
This is one reason that the Morgantown Rotary Club has established the Morgantown Rotary Club/Dr. Hugh Lindsay Hearing Aid Fund at CEHS. The fund, which will help provide hearing aids to low-income clients of the WVU Hearing Center, was created in honor of the late Dr. Hugh Lindsay, M.D., Ph.D.
For Lindsay, a Morgantown physician and devoted member of the Morgantown Rotary Club, the cost of hearing aids was a shock that inspired him to help others.
“He realized that hearing aids were extremely expensive and not covered by insurance when he actually bought a hearing aid for himself,” said Helen Lindsay, Dr. Lindsay’s widow. “And there were so many people who could not afford hearing aids, even the ones with insurance.”
After discovering what hearing aids cost, Lindsay began to investigate ways that he could help people access hearing aids. Eventually, he found that used hearing aids could be recycled, and he decided to raise awareness for this cause.
“He made a huge effort to inform people that used hearing aids could be reused,” Helen Lindsay said. “He put up posters, he sent out letters and he even had a public service announcement on the radio. He did everything he could think of to publicize the need for hearing aids and collected quite a few.”
Lindsay worked through the Morgantown Rotary Club as much as he could to collect used hearing aids.
“My husband really valued Rotary,” Helen Lindsay said. “It’s the one organization that he spent a great deal of time with. The Morgantown Rotary Club does so much.”
After Lindsay’s death in 2015, his fellow Rotarians wanted to continue to help with this cause, as well as to honor his memory. In order to do that, Dave Raese, a member of the Morgantown Rotary Club and current district governor of Rotary District 7530, started looking into ways that the club could help provide hearing aids to those in need. Raese, who had worked closely with Lindsay on the board of the Morgantown Rotary Club, found this task more complicated than expected.
When speaking with a speech-language pathologist, Raese learned that most of today’s hearing aids are customized to individual wearers. As a result, used hearing aids are not really transferable from person to person.
“She told me they really don’t make them that way anymore,” Raese said.
However, after crossing paths with a representative from CEHS, Raese discovered that the best way to connect people with hearing aids was to create a fund for the WVU Hearing Center.
“Our hearing center provides our students with valuable training and a way to serve the local community,” said Dr. Jayne Brandel, chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “We look forward to using this fund to continue that service and to help those in need of hearing aids.”
Beyond the help the fund provides to those in need, it is also a fitting way to honor a man who gave so much to the Morgantown community.
“I thought this would be to [Dr. Lindsay’s] liking as a way to honor him,” Raese said. “It’s also a way to do some good in the community and help people. The College is making it easy for us to do that.”