New audiology businesses add options for growing field

Aug. 16, 2018

An aging population, increased awareness and less of a stigma around hearing loss are combining to lead more entrepreneurs into audiology.

Melissa Baker opened her business, Baker Audiology, this month. It’s located in the Waterfall Plaza at 69th Street and Minnesota Avenue.

“This has always been a goal and dream of mine, and the timing and opportunity presented itself,” said Baker, who was born in Rapid City and graduated from USD before moving to Indiana.

She has 15 years of experience working in hospitals, nursing homes and small clinics.

“Hearing health is a process. It’s not fitting someone with hearing aids and hoping for the best. It’s understanding what they are going through and making the right recommendations and having a plan to improve and accomplish their hearing-related goals,” she said. “I want to build a community around my patients that involves family, friends, peers and myself to guide them.”

She offers hearing tests, treatment for tinnitus, or ringing of the ears, evaluation and fitting of Bluetooth hearing aids, earwax management and other services related to ear health.

Her business includes a patient care representative, hearing aid specialist and business manager.

“Hearing aids have such a stigma, and it should not be the case,” she said. “Wearing hearing aids is not a big deal; hearing loss on the other hand is a big deal. People do not notice hearing aids; however, asking people to repeat themselves and misunderstanding words and sentences is noticeable.”

Mandy Rounseville knows personally what it’s like to suffer hearing loss.

She and her twin sister were born in Sioux Falls with congenital hearing loss, and she received her first hearing aids at age 3. She has been an audiologist for 12 years, most recently at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and has practiced in four states.

She opened Sioux Falls Audiology Associates earlier this summer at 4948 E. 57th St.

“I saw a need in the Sioux Falls area for more hearing health care options as there really are not that many,” she said.

“My hearing loss is pretty significant. I cannot function without them, and I know how frustrating and debilitating hearing loss can be. I wanted to do more to be able to help others improve their quality of life, and I feel I can do that because I literally walk in their shoes every day. More than likely, what they experience I have as well. I want to let others know they are not alone.”

She and her two-person staff also offer hearing testing, hearing aids, ear health exams, wax removal, musician ear monitors, wireless accessories and hearing health workshops.

​“One unique aspect of the business that I enjoy is the advances in hearing aid technology. I started out with analog hearing aids that needed to be programmed with a small screwdriver,” she said. “Now, we have wireless capabilities, including streaming via Bluetooth, remote programming for those who have difficulties traveling, to controlling your aids with a smartphone app.”

The average age of someone using a hearing aid for the first time is 70, she said, adding she thinks there is more public awareness around hearing loss than there used to be.

“And I feel individuals are starting to take care of it much sooner because research has now shown there is a link to hearing loss and degree/onset of dementia,” she said. “Also, there are several other factors that cause hearing loss, not just aging, that may get a patient in the door to get help sooner. Hearing aids do not have as much stigma as they did in the past. Part of that is because hearing aids are more advanced in processing sounds for speech intelligibility and are more cosmetically appealing.”

A longtime business, Stanford Hearing Aids, also gained a new owner last year. Jerrid Bruyer took over the business after helping out as a business adviser.

Working on succession planning leads adviser to buy business

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New audiology businesses add options for growing field

An aging population, increased awareness and less of a stigma around hearing loss are combining to lead more entrepreneurs into audiology.

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