Twin Rivers Hearing | Healthy Hearing Interview

Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer for Healthy Hearing | Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

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When residents of the tight-knit Rhode Island community think of hearing health, they most often think of Dr. Mary Kay, an audiologist who has been serving the state for more than 30 years.

“One in five people are related in this state, so I see my patients everywhere,” she said. “My niece once asked me, 'Aunt Mary Kay, do you know everyone?'”

Dr. Mary Kay first worked as an industrial audiologist and workman’s compensation specialist before founding Twin Rivers Hearing Health in 2001. She has also taught college speech and psychology courses and continues to be an expert witness as an industrial audiologist. When a casino adopted the same name and opened its doors just around the corner, she developed this tagline: Twin Rivers Hearing Health, your best bet in hearing healthcare in Lil’ Rhody since 2001.

“I believe in total hearing healthcare,” she said. “I don’t wear a white lab coat or stethoscope. When patients come into my office, we have a conversation on my big sofa and I try to make them feel very comfortable. I’m interested in individual concerns, but I also look at communication breakdown between hearing impaired and their loved ones so I can treat the psychological, social and emotional aspects of hearing loss.”

Dr. Mary Kay said meeting her patients, learning about their communication challenges and successfully fitting them with hearing devices is her favorite part of being a hearing healthcare professional. Her biggest challenge is knowing some patients live in isolation, anxiety and depression because they can’t afford – or are unwilling to pay for – amplification.

One of her favorite hearing device success stories involves a woman who had hearing loss as a child but was told nothing could help her. “When I first saw her, she looked like she was going through a very rough time in her life," Dr. Mary Kay said. "She was physically unhealthy, her hygiene and overall appearance did not match the person on the inside and she was without a job. When I fit her with hearing aids, she started to cry because she could hear. She came back in a year later and I didn’t recognize her at all. She had lost weight, was wearing nice clothes, her hair and teeth were fixed, and she had a job. Hearing aids totally changed her life.”

Dr. Mary Kay was awarded Best of Smithfield in the Audiologists category (2012), but the award she’s most proud of is the Oticon Focus on People Award (2006), because votes came from her audiology peers throughout the United States. She does a lot of ambassador work in the Philippines, works with the National Aging in Place Council and provides consultations, hearing tests and hearing aid repairs for senior centers in her community.

She enjoys Rhode Island’s small, hometown feel and knows her patients refer their friends and family to her because of her ability to operate on a small, personal scale.

“One patient told me I have the three Ts,” she said, “Time, touch and technology. It’s a reflection of who I am. I’m really truly interested in my patients’ lives. I know a lot about all of them. It’s not about the money, it’s about the communication for me.”

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151 Douglas Pike #1
Smithfield, RI 02917

(401) 349-0456

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