The Hearing Matters Podcast discusses hearing technology (more commonly known as hearing aids), best practices, and a growing national epidemic - Hearing Loss. The show is hosted by father and son - Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS and Dr. Gregory Delfino, CCC-A. Blaise Delfino and Dr. Gregory Delfino treat patients with hearing loss, tinnitus, and Central Auditory Processing Disorder at Audiology Services, located in Bethlehem, Nazareth, and East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
During this episode you will learn:
On this episode, we interview Dr. Judy Huch. Dr. Judy Huch has started and participated in several corporations, including Oro Valley Audiology (1998), Tanque Verde Audiology (2001),Grace Hearing Center (2016), and Hearing Health and Technology blog (2013).
Dr. Huch has been dispensing hearing aids since 1991 and graduated in 1993 from Central Missouri State University with a Master’s in Audiology. She completed her Clinical Doctorate in Audiology in 2007 at AT Still University out of Mesa, AZ. Dr. Huch has been published in several trade journals and textbooks on the topic of patient satisfaction. The goal of her businesses is to provide excellent patient centered care with technology that matches the individual.
Dr. Huch’s Non-Profit division, Grace Hearing Center, provides this model of excellent hearing healthcare to the underserved and underinsured of Southern Arizona. There are two clinics, one in El Rio Congress and one on Broadway Rd. She participates in Hearing Missions with Entheos Audiology Co-op around the globe each year, some of which she brings her husband and teenage boys in helping to Give Back and provide Audiology services to those who do not have access.
Dr. Huch was appointed by the Governor of AZ as a State Commissioner for the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in 2016 and is currently serving her second term. She was also chosen to be the representing AZ audiologist for the Audiology Project to bring Diabetes Educators, physicians and other Allied Healthcare Providers together to increase the awareness of hearing loss with many chronic diseases.
Dr. Huch is on the Board of Arizona Audiology Coalition and serves as Chair on American Academy of Audiology Task force for Public Awareness. She was also awarded a fellowship with the OpEd Project in 2017 and Humanitarian of the Year from AT Still University Alumni in 2019, Woman of Influence for Community Service in Tucson and Woman of Impact of Southern AZ both in 2019.
In recent years, military branches have become more proactive about hearing protection during training and real-time scenarios. In 2011, nearly 150,000 new cases of hearing loss and tinnitus were reported by the VA, and in 2012, the Department of Defense announced plans to integrate hearing protective technologies.
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You're tuned in to the Hearing Matters Podcast with Dr. Gregory Delfino, and Blaise Delfino of Audiology Services and Fader Plugs. This show that discusses hearing technology, best practices and a growing national epidemic hearing loss. On this episode, we have Dr. Judy Hutch from Oro Valley Audiology all the way in Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Hutch, thank you so much for joining us on the Hearing Matters Podcast.Judy Huch:
Thank you for having me. I'm really excited to talk to you today.Blaise Delfino:
It's such a pleasure to have you on the show. You and I were connected through a Facebook group and the power of social media today and Dr. Hutch, I have to say I am just so inspired by everything that you have, number one accomplished, but all of the lives that you have positively impacted. Now, before we get into the meat and potatoes of our show, if you will, can you please introduce yourself to our listeners, because you have such such an interesting and such a unique story.Judy Huch:
Well, thank you. I've been around for a long time. It basically started just not knowing what to do in college. And I had a roommate tell me, well, you should go to the speech path and audiology class. And that was way back in 1987. And I just kind of fell in love on the audiology side. But I wasn't the greatest student in the world. And then I found out I had to get my master's degree, which was quite frightening, frankly. And so I picked a college that I didn't have to do a GRE and and that was Central Missouri State University. That's what the name was at the time. And they were the very first ASHA certified for speech language in the United States. But I went there because my mom went there in 1949, she became a teacher. But through that funding wasn't happening or anything and I had a really hard time being able to afford school. So I went out and got my dispensers license in 1991 in Warrensburg, Missouri, and I hired myself out into other practices and offices, just to get through my master's degree. And so that led on to jobs and deciding I didn't like the central part of the United States. I'm so sorry for everybody. But the trees were making me claustrophobic. I grew up in Wyoming, where you see for ever. So I found a job in Tucson, Arizona, Holly Hosford-Dunn there was a connection there because I did a Starkey internship in 1993 qnd I worked under Dr. Earl Harford, and he was writing a book with Holly Hosford-Dunn at the time, and they connected me. And I moved to Tucson sight unseen. And within two years, I bought a practice I got married, and everything was just here you go life. And I have never looked back. I didn't do well, I did do a lot. But I don't feel like I did very much. When I was raising my two sons. They're now 18 and 20. But I started two practices, I started a nonprofit, I've been able to get grounded into the community of Tucson and find out where people need help. And I've connected with other nonprofits. And we've really been making a difference. And then I joined Entheos in 2015 and that's where I really blossomed and found community and found a way to help people not only in my backyard but around the world.Blaise Delfino:
Judy hearing your story truly is is so inspiring and the grit that you need to have as a private practice owner as a you have such an entrepreneur, you're an entrepreneur, you encompass that entrepreneurial mindset of innovation forward thinking, you had a vision and you put in place things that you needed to do you created your own lane. And that is so, so amazing. So thank you so much for sharing how you got started in the field of Audiology and, of course, being a thought leader in audiology. You have such passion and so much appreciation for our military. Thank you to everyone who serves. The military is very close to your heart and you're going to get into that and also first responders. Dr. Hutch, what areas of the military surrounding audiology have you worked in as a private practice audiologist?Judy Huch:
Well, when I moved to Tucson, I discovered they had a very large base, Davis Monthan Air Force Base. And around 1997, I was able to get a contract and I would go down on the base at the security clearances crazy. But I would go, and I would test the hearing of everybody who had failed their screenings. And I was there from 97 to 2000. Right, in 2000, they actually took down the mobile unit that I was in, and they actually asked me to open another office closer to the base. And so I did, and I did that in 2000-2001. Well, the year that my eldest son Shawn was born. So I really wanted to challenge I guess, but the contracts, they change every three to four years with the military, and it's kind of hit or miss. So I eventually sold that practice. But with the military, we've worked on custom hearing protection for specific groups on the flightline, and pilots, both the a 10s. And the helicopters, then I contracted with our local VA, and we did the fittings for several years. But then in 2014, there was a big change in contracting. And so then I kind of switched into doing CMP exams. And I have two contracts, one with QTC and one with LA Chai. So out of that, I started to build my counseling for vets who have traumatic brain injury, and tinnitus, because they really need a lot of help navigating the system. And they're kind of told too much that get used to what you have, there's no help for you. And as we know, that's wrong. There's there is help out there. So I'm building that area now.Blaise Delfino:
What has your experience been working with our veterans, that has to bring you so much joy, and so much excitement to assist our veterans throughout their journey to better hearingJudy Huch:
It is, and it starts sometimes with a little bit of frustration, because while they're in the service, it's difficult for them to report health issues, there's a long seated belief that it's a sign of weakness to report health issues, it's a bit of a catch 22. Sometimes when they report, they're faced with medical leave and having medical separation, and they don't want to lose their jobs. So it's a hard decision for them to make, and I don't want them there have their job to be diminished or taken away from them.Blaise Delfino:
When they are in the service, they have to report the hearing loss, they can't fake it on their hearing tests, they have to report the ringing in the ears, because that's number one and number two, with our military population, they have one year after their separation, for it to get into their records for to even be service connected. So the time limit is extremely important. So I really want to get that message out to them. On the other hand, the Department of Defense, they're in a really hard position, because how do we protect those who protect us and the DOD, they have to choose between creating programs and protections for those who are actively serving right now. As opposed to those who have already served our vets. And there are so many of them, and there's not enough to go around all the time. So they are really the pendulum swings back and forth between the programs now and helping the vets. So I like to help them navigate that.Blaise Delfino:
Absolutely. And Dr. Hutch, when you were talking about the counseling and how important counseling is, especially for first time hearing aid users and working with our veterans and getting them on the road to better hearing. I just admire your passion for the counseling aspect because it is so so important to counsel patients correctly, but also our veterans and of course, we're talking about hearing healthcare as it pertains to military and first responders during this episode. Judy, why is the military and those who serve so important to you?Judy Huch:
Well, my father and brother they served in the Navy. My father turned 17 on August 1 1945. And two weeks later, Japan surrendered and he was deployed to Guam. And he served there where they happen to hold Japanese prisoners of war. It was a very challenging time for him and it was very hard for him to talk about it throughout his life. My brother, he had quite the opposite reaction or experience in the Navy, he was able to travel to Australia and Japan and he absolutely loved his time. And then when I moved to Tucson, I discovered Davis Monthan Air Force Base. And through my work with them, I was able to become an honorary commander for this 755th Support Squadron. They were in charge of linguistics, and they flew in the C 130s. And I was able to fly on a C 130. And see a refueling. It was extraordinary. And then my nephew joined the Marines in 2014. And now my son, who is 20, he serves in the Marines, he is working in intelligence. And so I talked to him about making sure that his hearing is protected. And on our weekly calls. I know mom, I know. So he shares his wisdom.Blaise Delfino:
It's a mom's duty, it's a mom's duty.Judy Huch:
Yes. So I've learned that this is a special population who gives more for our country, and I want to do all I can to support them as well.Blaise Delfino:
Dr. Hutch, you had mentioned when you're talking to your son on your weekly calls, and when you get to speak with him, you always remind him protect your hearing, what can those who serve do to protect their hearing sensitivity. And, you know, make sure that things are documented, because I think this is really, really important.Judy Huch:
Now, and this only started up in the 1980s. When they are in a specific shop or a work environment. Normally, the noise level is recorded, and that's put in their chart. And then they must have if it's over 85 decibels, they must have their hearing checked annually. They infantry isn't always in that segment of the population. And they go out on exercises three times or more a year, and the deployments. And so sometimes they're caught in situations where they can't put earplugs in, or they're provided, but they're not mandatory. And so I really stress using hearing protection as much as possible. Even if it's not mandatory. If it's given to them, it's a good idea to wear it. And never ever take it out whenever you're close to the rifle range.Blaise Delfino:
There's so many well I was done shooting, so I took it out. No, no, no, you keep it onBlaise Delfino:
Maybe someone else wasn't done. Right. And, and some of the firearms can can reach well over 165 decibels. I mean, that that is an impulse sound that can cause permanent hearing damage. Is that correct, Dr. Hutch?Judy Huch:
It's absolutely correct. A little known fact is I shot competitively at 10 years old. And so I shot 22's, I grew up in Wyoming. So that's a thing. And so that also got me to researching. And it's not only the impact of the sound, but it's also the concussive effects of the brain getting shook with the larger calibers. And so there's a lot of research around that as well. So it's not just hearing loss. It's also concussions, TBI that individuals can get from the higher calibers.Blaise Delfino:
All of this information is so important, especially we live in Pennsylvania, and there is competitive shooting that occurs here in Pennsylvania. And what's nice to see is that individuals who are, of course, shooting competitively are wearing the hearing protection and more times than not, they're actually doubling up Dr. Hutch, they're wearing custom hearing protective devices, just custom solid plugs. And then the ear muffs over which doubling up is so so important. When we talk about annual hearing evaluations, things of that nature. And of course, when you are in the service, our our men and women who are serving our country, are they getting their hearing tested every single year. What does that process look like?Judy Huch:
Well, it depends on their MLS. And their MLS is basically their job description and what they do in the military. And so certain ones are classified for a high probability of noise exposure, and they do get their hearing checked every year from moderate to low. They don't always get their annual test. And every once in a while I catch when there is no entry or exit audio. They're getting much, much better. And it's called maps when They enter. And so that can be a search through their records to check their entry audio. But the exit audio is extremely important. And there's quite a few who not only doesn't have annual tests, but they're not getting their exit audio either. So then it's not documented. And they have a year to get that documented within their records.Blaise Delfino:
What's interesting, Dr. Hodges that here at audiology services will see veterans and, you know, of course, the first thing we do is we thank them and to any servicemen, veterans, servicemen and women listening right now. Thank you so much for your service. Thank you, Judy, to your children who served to decipher if a hearing loss was service related, can be difficult. And that is that why documenting is so important. Because if a patient presents with hearing loss, well, how do we know if that was service related? Or is it presbycusis? Or age related hearing loss?Judy Huch:
Well, that is the conundrum. And that's some of the challenges that I see. Because right now we have more specific tests, like otoacoustic emissions that showed damage before, you know, the beat the basic audiometric tests. And so I do always ease on everybody and just check butBlaise Delfino:
Good. That's great to hear.Judy Huch:
Yeah. But every once in a while, I'll come across somebody who served during Vietnam. And there's one very heartbreaking one because he did have hearing tests throughout his service with the beeps, and it showed no hearing change. And so then we're looking 50 years later, they want to make a claim for it. Well, with the hearing test with the beeps, it showed no hearing loss. So that could not prove service connected. Because we know with noise exposure with impact, it's immediate with long exposure. Sometimes our audiometric test isn't sensitive enough to cochlear changes. And that's where the OEPs come in. And so I want service men and women to get more sensitive testing done otoacoustic emissions are so important. And I have a little bit of a fight going on when I do my COP exams because I still do the OAE. And I still make it part of the report. The VA sometimes won't take that. But I make the argument for so I really tried to find the ways to show the damage. And that's the same with TBI. For auditory processing. We know hidden hearing loss occurs, we know it's a thing, but it is not picked up on our basic audiometric test either. So we have to really push to get auditory processing, testing, high frequency testing otoacoustic all of this so then we can give the whole package to the VA and really make the strong argumentBlaise Delfino:
Going beyond the audiogram.Judy Huch:
Testing speech and noise., OAEs, all of that it's so important. And of course, Dr. Hutch, my father, Dr. Delfino growing up in hearing healthcare, it's it's sort of like your office, our offices parallel each other. It's so interesting to hear you share your story because, you know, when you're talking about central auditory processing, it's like yes, we do that here we perform OAEs and and things of that nature but specifically for servicemen and women, those who are serving but also first responders getting those additional tests because there is such a thing called hidden hearing loss and central auditory processing. Well, I have normal peripheral hearing, but I can't understand speech and noise. It's so difficult for me. Thank you so much for for touching upon that, Judy, because that's I think your mission to raise awareness of hearing healthcare and going beyond the audiogram within the military is so admirable and so needed, and I feel like you're just you're going to continue to make waves and create this following and community of yes, we do need to go beyond the audiogram. Dr. Hutch, out of curiosity, what are some of the challenges of first responders and how can the leadership keep safety top priority while also creating a safe space for their ranks?Judy Huch:
I work with the Tucson fire department here in Tucson one of my very good friends was an assistant chief and she just retired Laura Baker and I sat on a committee for the memorial. So everybody who died in service, and we got to talking with the other firefighters, and I noticed that they were passing their physicals year after year. A lot of them ended up having unilateral hearing loss that they've had for years ago when there was a brand new physician that came on, and they started to fail them on the hearing test. This was a red flag. So the firefighter who's been doing their jobs successfully for 20 years, is now looking at losing their job being forced out because of the hearing loss. So we started to talk. And I did have some conversations with house ear Institute, because they do have a specific test for localization. But we need to formalize better tests for localization to show that there are some people even though they may have a hearing loss more on one side, how do they respond in real life situations? Can they tell like where the baby's crying from in a real life, noisy fire type of situation? Can they hear their radio communication in the heat of the moment, but finding that balance between utilizing the programs to save the hearing now, because they are being much better, but also protecting those who kind of fell through the cracks, you know, up into those this point. And so we've been talking and I hope that it can move forward at some point to really formalize real world situations to make sure that safety is covered. But also, people do not lose their jobs because of something that was out of their control.Blaise Delfino:
Absolutely. And Dr. Hutch, when you have the program set in stone, especially with with localizing we're going to bring it here to the east coast because I have cousins special thank you to Anthony, Andrew, Robert and Nick Delfino, four of my cousins are Jersey City firefighters. And my cousin Anthony has been a firefighter for many years. And he does report decreased hearing sensitivity. And I talked to my cousin's about hearing all the time, go figure. Right? And, you know, it's there's so much going on, you have the sound of the fire truck. And then when you get to the scene, just the the environmental sounds around you, but especially with localization, for those who don't know what localization is Dr. Hutch, why is what is localization? And why is it so important for first responders and those in the military.Judy Huch:
So localization is basically hearing where you are in space and where other things are. So if you are able to sit in the middle of a room and close your eyes and sounds, you would be able to point where that sound is coming from the house Institute, they have created very sensitive test for localization, because when you are walking into those extremely stressful environments, with everything going on, we don't want them to have cognitive overload to be compensating for their hearing loss, because they're there to save lives. So when they're in the middle of that situation, it's extremely important for them to know to listen, is there somebody in the house and or the building, and they need to get to them quickly, most of the time, they have the communication clipped on their chest, because we can't have things in the ears for heat and fire safety as well. So there's a lot of challenges that firefighters have to overcome. But if they can't hear well in that situation, then it then increase the cognitive overload. They're not making the best decisions in the moment. And one thing that the firefighters have taught me is that they are crucial and spectacular at making decisions in the heat of the moment. They always have a plan B and C and D. And if you don't have it completely planned out in you know, way ahead of time, it's okay because it only counts in the moment.Blaise Delfino:
They are to all of our firefighters out there. Thank you so much for all that you do. And Dr. Hunt, you're absolutely right. You know, knowing my cousins, of course their family. There is always a plan A, B, C, D, E, F and G and they are just incredible, incredible people. Thank you to all of our firefighters, all of our servicemen. Dr. Hutch, it has been a pleasure having you on as a guest on the Hearing Matters Podcast. Do you have anything else that you would like to add to this episode with regard to supporting the military with hearing health care, and also our first responders?Judy Huch:
Well, mostly just say thank you for your service. And they're trained to respond my pleasure because to them, it's not above and beyond, it's just wired with within them. I just want them to know that there are many of us out here who want to support them and care for them. And make sure that things don't escalate when it comes to suicide in our military. And that's it's much higher than the regular population, and it starts with us. We need to listen, we need to make sure that they're heard and it is my pleasure and my honor to do that.Blaise Delfino:
You're tuned into the Hearing Matters Podcast with Dr. Gregory Delfino, and Blaise Delfino of Audiology Services and Fader Plugs. Today we welcome Dr. Judy Hutch from Oro Valley Audiology in Tucson, Arizona. And we talked about going beyond the audiogram and supporting our military servicemen and women and also our first responders. Until next time, hear life's story.