Next month, the Audiology department at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) will make its fourth trip to Antigua, Guatemala, to provide donated ReSound hearing aids to local residents with hearing loss.
In Guatemala, 75% of the population is below the poverty line. The “Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedro,” where the mission will take place, is a hospital serving the poor and the venue for many medical missions throughout the year. Appointments are scheduled for people with little to no income and all volunteer medical groups bring their own team and supplies.
The people helped by the “Obras” are typically:
- Physically and mentally handicapped persons, particularly abandoned
- Orphaned children (with medical issues)
- Young adults with physical and psychological problems
- Elderly and blind that cannot find assistance in other places
For people in Antigua and the surrounding area, the twice yearly mission trips (one by KUMC in June and another by a Canadian group earlier in the year) are the only access they have to hearing services. While some services are available in Antigua, residents often cannot afford the hearing aids they provide.
In June 2013, people from across the country traveled overnight to Antigua and waited in line for hours for hearing services provided via the KUMC mission. The Audiology team consisted of five doctoral Audiology students (Jonathan Wilson, Amber Hilderman, Pam Svitak, Ashley Lombardi, Lindsey Pacey) and one licensed audiologist (Dr. Teresa Kennalley).
In five days, the team:
- Saw 173 patients
- Completed 137 hearing tests
- Fit 142 ReSound hearing aids (36 hearing aids were fit on children and 106 were fit on adults)
- Cleaned and repaired 23 hearing aids
- Made 149 new ear molds.
Audiology student, Amber Hilderman, provided her account in a blog post last November. She says that the mission trip was “the most rewarding experience of her life.”
Stay tuned for more on this year’s mission trip.