John “Jay” Bierce, shown with his wife, Linda, and Brandon Lichtman, Au.D., director of the WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital Audiology Center of Excellence, said the cochlear implant he received has changed his life. Bierce’s conversational speech hearing has improved from 3.5 percent (severe to profound hearing loss) to 97 percent (normal hearing).
The WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital Audiology Center of Excellence has joined forces with WVU Medicine otologists and the Cochlear Provider Network (CPN) to provide cochlear implants, and for one Moundsville man, the results have been profound.
John “Jay” Bierce had not been able to hear for almost 10 years before the retired iron worker had the cochlear implant for his right ear. Brian Kellermeyer, M.D., ENT specialist at WVU Medicine, performed the implantation. The implant was activated on March 15 by Brandon Lichtman, Au.D., director of the Audiology Center of Excellence in Wheeling.
“It has changed my life,” said Bierce, who could not use a telephone and found himself withdrawing from conversations before the implant.
“I have three grandchildren who I had not heard before the implant. It has been life changing for my entire family. They are able to interact with me more.”
While all the actual implantations are done at WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, the Audiology Center in Wheeling assesses patients’ candidacy for the implants and provides activation, programming services, and ongoing care.
Dr. Lichtman said Bierce’s conversational speech hearing has improved from 3.5 percent (severe to profound hearing loss) to 97 percent (normal hearing). The implant for Bierce’s left ear is scheduled for December.
“I’ve gained something back that is God-given,” Bierce said. “It’s truly a blessing, and I would recommend the implants to anyone.”
“We know that if we can expose those who are frustrated and dissatisfied with their current solutions to the world of hearing implants, we can help them regain access to sound and regain their lives,” Lichtman said. “We are pleased to be a part of the Cochlear Provider Network because it allows us to continue to be a part of our patient’s hearing journey throughout the entire implant process, which reinforces our commitment to our patients and the community at large.”
Provider consistency is vitally important to maintaining patient comfort levels throughout the entire continuum of patient care.
“Not only do we have the opportunity to connect medically qualified patients with an existing, established implant center, we have the ability to assess the patient for implant candidacy before surgery, while also providing activation and programming services after surgery,” said Lichtman, who completed an advanced studies certificate program in cochlear implants through Salus University in order to provide the highest quality of care for cochlear implant patients.
WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital Audiology takes a multidisciplinary approach to improved hearing outcomes. It includes Otolaryngology, Otology, Neurology, and Speech-Language Pathology.
“The ability to hear not only helps with communication, but it connects us with our loved ones. Hearing loss can lead to social isolation and even a decline in cognition,” Lichtman said. “Our goal is to reawaken the auditory system so we can help improve quality of life.”
For more information about cochlear implants, call the Audiology Center of Excellence at 304-243-7879.