While some businesses have downsized during the pandemic, Baystate Audiology has been busier than ever. Its patient list has more than doubled since opening five years ago this November, and construction is underway to expand the office at 1 Lumber St. Owner and audiologist Darcy Repucci, who runs Baystate by herself, also hopes to hire another employee soon.
“I grew up in Hopkinton, so it’s really nice to be able to bring this back to the community,” she said. With no similar services in town, Repucci is happy to fill a local need, and she enjoys seeing her childhood friends’ parents and grandparents come into the clinic.
It has been a busy year for Baystate Audiology in part because the pandemic brought many individuals’ hearing issues to the forefront. With the use of face masks, Repucci explains, more people discovered a reliance on lipreading to aid their hearing comprehension. Additionally, as older adults moved in with family during the pandemic, relatives began to notice their hearing difficulties.
Repucci also notes that COVID-19 is believed to contribute to hearing loss and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) in some individuals.
For all adults, Repucci recommends a baseline appointment starting at age 50 to monitor hearing changes that can be brought on by medications, disease, noise exposure or aging. At Baystate Audiology, there is no obligation to make on-the-spot decisions or purchase hearing aids. “For me, it’s about educating my patients,” Repucci said. “I want them to know why their hearing is changing.”
Some are reluctant to try hearing aids due to misconceptions about functionality, but Repucci notes the technological advances. In addition to being rechargeable, hearing aids now offer a more natural sound, connect to smartphones and do not emit a whistling noise. Furthermore, new styles look like regular earbuds, which may persuade those who are self-conscious about wearing the devices.
“I listen to them,” Repucci said when asked why patients from across New England choose Baystate Audiology. “I’m an expert, and I give my recommendations, but I really do listen to what their exact problems are and try to solve them.”
In addition to patient care, Repucci engages with local schools to educate students about hearing loss and hearing aids, give career presentations and provide job shadowing experiences.
Repucci also is a “big promoter of hearing protection” and strongly recommends wearing earplugs or earmuffs during loud activities like concerts, fireworks and lawn mowing. Residents might have spotted her handing out earplugs at local health fairs and concerts.
Reflecting on career highlights, Repucci recalls a patient in his 90s who could not speak after having a stroke. His daughter knew his hearing aids weren’t working well, and he was becoming increasingly withdrawn. Traditional hearing testing was difficult to administer without verbal feedback, but Repucci found a way to conduct the tests for him. Upon placing a personalized set of hearing aids on the patient, “his eyes lit up, and he started crying,” Repucci said. “That’s why I do what I do.”
To learn more, visit baystateaudiology.com or call 508-936-3277.
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