“More than 10 percent of the U.S. population reports having hearing difficulties,” says Dr. Mavis Garrett, owner of Maico Audiological Services. “This number will increase as the baby boomers age.”
Garrett is optimistic that the advances in technology will meet the challenge. For example, legislation is pending to allow “over-the-counter” hearing aids. They will be less expensive and reach more people, which can work for those with mild hearing loss. However, there will be no professional follow up or evaluation, which is a disadvantage.
“Technology is really ‘ramping up,’” says Garrett. “Hearing aids are now rechargeable. Soon they will connect to TVs and cell phones using bluetooth.” The increase in technology has been accompanied by a decrease in trained audiologists. Educational requirements are strict and extensive. Eight years are required for a degree. “Unfortunately, the pay is not good,” says Garrett. Audiology is one of the leading fields in job satisfaction. There is not a lot of stress and it is mostly uplifting. “At the end of the day there is usually nothing negative to take home,” she says.
Maico offers services for anyone, from newborn to geriatric. Garrett’s oldest patient is 104. She contracts with schools to provide hearing tests and devices. Hearing aids are more than mini-speakers, which just amplify sound. They must be individually selected, fitted and programmed. Unfortunately, the average patient waits as long as seven years from the beginning of hearing loss to the decision to do something about it. “So stop asking friends to repeat themselves, turn down the TV and live life to the fullest,” advises Garrett. A hearing test is simple and painless. Insurance usually pays for it.
Garrett received her Bachelor of Arts degree and Masters of Arts degree from the University of Virginia. Her first job was in Norfolk. She has been a faculty member of Eastern Virginia Medical School. In 2003, she earned a doctorate degree in audiology from A. T. Still University in Arizona. She joined Maico in 2008 and became the owner in 2012. There are four other audiologists in the Newport News office and two other offices in Smithfield and Chesapeake.
Garrett is an advocate for animal rescue. She has served as a volunteer at the Isle of Wight Animal Shelter. She has three grown children: a son and two daughters, and she owns four dogs and a cat. One dog is a blue-eyed Anatolian shepherd. For five years she owned a pig named Lily. “Lily is now living with my daughter. She got too big,” says Garrett with a smile.
Quilting is Garrett’s hobby. She also enjoys cruising and combined her interests in “quilting cruises.” About 30 women choose a cruise and quilt between ports. A favorite was a Caribbean cruise, including a stop in Aruba. In the future she is planning a Rhine River cruise featuring the Christmas markets. Other non-quilting travels have taken her to Australia, New Zealand and Paris. Garrett expects to retire in five to six years.
Garrett offered some advice that bears repeating: trust your hearing to a professional. Just as you have regular routine eye (and other) exams, be sure to have your ears and hearing evaluated by a professional.
TO THE POINT:
Maico Audiological Services
Contact: Dr. Mavis W. Garrett, audiologist, owner
Address: 703 Thimble Shoals Blvd., Ste. C-3, Newport News VA 23606