As a National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps member serving at Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center as an Outreach Coordinator, my role is centered on increasing the reach of the Center. The speech therapists and the audiologists aren’t able to leave the building to help every person that they pass on the street. As a non-profit organization, we have limited means in which to advertise the services we provide. There are a lot of people who need the services of the Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center, but far too few who actually know we exist. Many may not even know that they need our services at all! My role as the Outreach Coordinator is two-fold:
1. Screen people for hearing loss, so that they are aware whether they need our services or not.
2. Be a living, breathing advertisement for the Center in the community, at provider’s offices, and in schools.
At churches, community centers, schools, and industrial companies, I use something called an audiometer to screen people for hearing loss. It’s the test you took in school where you listened for a tone in your right or left ear, and then raised your hand to alert to the fact that you’ve heard it. I start at the lowest decibel possible, and record how loud the tone needs to be until the person has heard it. Many people are surprised when I tell them that they have perfect hearing! Wives joke that their husband, who passed the screening, now has no excuse not to listen to her! Those who don’t pass are recommended to come in for a full diagnostic evaluation. I reassure them that we have many options available in terms of type of hearing aid and price.
Every day, I travel all around the city to speak with providers about our services. From the Northside to the Southside, from the Westside to the Beaches, and from Orange Park to Downtown, I travel with folders of information and fun giveaways. I talk to referral coordinators one-on-one and I let them know the services that we can provide to their patients. Many are shocked to find out we take Medicare and Medicaid. Unfortunately, many never knew that we existed; but, they are glad to know that we are an option for their patients.
My AmeriCorps position is Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center’s main source for outreach, meaning I am relied upon for increasing their reach into the community. By increasing our reach, it is possible for more people to have their hearing and speech needs met at a price that they can afford.
This blog post was written by NHC FL AmeriCorps Member, Sarah
Sarah serves at Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center as an Outreach Coordinator.