by Abby Wright, CEDA
Mark Rother, Hearing Instrument Specialist, had witnessed the need for hearing evaluations and the need to help people hear better during his years repairing hearing aids for manufacturers; in response, he established the Hearing Aid Doctor in 1994 and opened the physical office in Stewartville in 1996. At the time, he and his wife, Jodi Rother, lived in Burnsville, and Mark commuted once or twice per week until business picked up.
Stewartville was a natural choice for the Rothers to start their business because Jodi had grown up in Stewartville, and Mark grew up nearby in Eyota, so they knew people in the area who might refer others to their facility.
The vast majority of their customers are referrals and repeats, Jodi says, “People see the thoughtful, personal care we give, and they appreciate the genuine concern that we have to help them hear as well as possible.”
She says the Hearing Aid Doctor is also a good choice for Stewartville residents because it offers a variety of products for them to check out, including most brands of hearing devices; the facility is in close proximity to Rochester; and the Rothers stay up and current with the latest technology from most hearing instrument manufacturers. For instance, people can now use SmartPhone applications to adjust the volume of their hearing aids, and they can receive phone calls directly to the hearing aids in both ears.
Mark opened the Burnsville office in 1997. In 2000, the Rothers added an office in Northfield. In 2010, because prolonged construction limited access at the Burnsville location and Lakeville needed hearing aid products and services, the Rothers moved their Burnsville office to Lakeville.
Jodi joined as the second Hearing Instrument Specialist and Mark’s business partner in 2000 and now works at the Stewartville location at 216 Center Town Plaza North on Wednesdays by appointment. Northfield is open on Thursdays by appointment, and Lakeville, which is the largest office, is open every day by appointment. Between Jodi and Mark, who work in different offices on different days, the Hearing Aid Doctor sees 8-12 people/day and 50-60 patients/week on average. Customers consist of people who have hearing aids and people who are in need of them.
These can be people of any age, despite the misconception that hearing instruments are only for older generations. Jodi says she and Mark see a lot of people in their 20s and 30s who are struggling to hear conversations, whether it’s in one-on-one or group settings.
Many people also think hearing aids are too expensive, but, Jodi explains, a pair of hearing aids lasts an average of 5-6 years, equating out to an average cost of $3.00 or less per day.
Hearing Aid Doctor customers make appointments to have their hearing tested, then discuss with Mark or Jodi what is going to work best, order them, and are fitted for new hearing aids. They then have 45 days to return or exchange their device(s). Patients generally schedule a two-week follow-up appointment and further appointments as necessary to ensure the best outcome.
At any point, if the patient is uncomfortable, has questions or concerns, or needs adjusting or servicing, the Rothers want to know. If patients experience challenges with an instrument, even if they purchased it elsewhere, the Rothers want to make the repairs, adjustments, or help the individual find what works.
Many people think, “No hearing aid will work for me,” Jodi explains, perhaps because a lot of offices tell them, “You’ll get used to it.”
“. . . that has never been our philosophy,” she says. People have to get used to hearing aids to an extent because it is a change from their norm, but sometimes, Jodi says, they cannot adjust, in which case there is no reason for someone to spend the money on that product.
“Our main concern is making sure that people are getting the most out of their hearing aids. We want to do what is best for our patients and what will make them happy.”
Jodi advises that people with hearing aids have their hearing tested every year to make sure they are up-to-date with their hearing loss and that everything is working well with the hearing aid; even people without hearing aids “shouldn’t wait until they think they have a problem, because the way sound processing works, over time if left unchecked, someone’s understanding of a message can be compromised.” She adds that studies show that this can lead to regressing from groups and socialization, and data from manufacturers shows a correlation between hearing loss and dementia, and hearing loss and Alzheimer’s.
When Jodi began seeing and fitting patients at The Hearing Aid Doctor, she saw the reaction on people’s faces when they were able to hear speech better and participate in conversation. She says that continues to be the most moving experience and knows that they will have a better quality of life because they can hear better.
Thank you, Hearing Aid Doctor, for serving the community of Stewartville!