Basseterre, St. Kitts – Dozens of individuals in St. Kitts and Nevis who have difficulty hearing have been given the gift of sound by the Starkey Hearing Foundation, w hosted a clinic in St. Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Starkey Foundation was founded in 1984 by William Austin to use hearing as a vehicle to bring peace and understanding to communities around the world.

Speaking at the Clinic at Warner Park, Kirk Richards, the international development director for the Caribbean region, stated that the foundation has a footprint all over the world and is now focused on the Caribbean.

“We provided hearing aids in Africa, South America and Asia and now we are working our way into the Caribbean,” he said. “So far, in this last month and a half, we have visited St. Lucia, St. Croix, Dominica and [we are] now here in St. Kitts.”

Richards stated that they are working with the ministry of health, who has identified patients who are indeed of hearing aids.

Richards said their team is made up of individuals from all over the Caribbean and the United States to provided hearing aids to those who were selected.

He then explained the free process: “The process starts with registration, and, so far, we have [more than] 50 patients registered,” Richards said. “From there, we are going to [take] them to ear screenings to check the ears to make sure they don’t have any wax. From there, we go to the voice test method, where we test them to see what level of hearing do they have. If they pass that test, they do not require a hearing aid, and if they fail that test, [the next step is a] hearing aid fitting.”

Richards added that patients will be taught how to clean the hearing aids and change its batteries, as well as be provided with a three-month supply of batteries, as well as aftercare follow-up through the ministry of health.

“We have nurses in different areas doing follow-up in different areas on a monthly basis,” Richards said. “[They] are calling them and having them visit the clinics to check on them to make sure they are still wearing them and [dealing with] another issues they may be having.”

Richards thanked the rotary clubs in the federation for their roles in helping them to provide the clinic.

“The rotary clubs have been very instrumental in the partnerships that we have so far,” he said. “We are looking forward to bigger and better things in the future.”
Richards said helping to provide hearing can change lives, from children now having the opportunity to go to regular school to adults feeling better prepared for the workplace.

“[By] providing the gift of hearing, we have seen changes in people’s lives just by giving them sound,” he said. “We have seen in situations where people are applying for jobs by the next day.”