Media Contact: Ilana Glazer, HASA
HASA Awarded a $300,000 Grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation to Support the Hearing Health Collaborative.
Baltimore, Maryland, October 2020 – HASA was awarded a two-year, $300,000 grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation to support the Hearing Health Collaborative. The new Hearing Health Collaborative will address hearing loss among low-income, older adults in Baltimore through a partnership of three organizations: HASA, Access HEARS, and Baltimore City Health Department’s Division of Aging & CARE Services. The project is a first-in-kind, public-private collaboration that will serve as a national model through two primary aims: 1) Integrate hearing health into the daily operations of key care systems for older adults provided through a local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) 2) Provide affordable, accessible hearing care for older adults who live in Baltimore City.
“Hearing loss has been relegated to the sidelines of health care. For many people with hearing loss, trying to navigate the healthcare system to address their issues can be confusing and frustrating, and they can be left with no clear guidance on what will best fit their financial, health, social, and hearing needs.” — Chair of the Committee on Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care for Adults, Dan G. Blazer, J.P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at Duke University Medical Center
Research within the last decade has redefined the way in which we consider the potential effects of hearing loss in the context of healthy aging. Hearing loss is the largest potentially modifiable risk factor for dementia, given its prevalence and the degree of association. Furthermore, adults with untreated hearing loss incur substantially higher total health care costs compared to those who don’t—an average of 46%, totaling $22,434 over a decade. The use of hearing care services can help mitigate this issue as it has been associated with reduced Medicare spending among those with hearing loss.
For older adults with limited financial resources, hearing care is often out of reach and goes unprioritized by individuals, families, and care providers, particularly among low-income older adults. For example, Medicare does not provide coverage for hearing aids.
The Hearing Health Collaborative will begin to address disparities in hearing care through an integrated system of client identification, service delivery, and professional training that leverages services provided by HASA and Access HEARS with the extensive care network already in place through Baltimore City. The program is specifically designed to target older, low-income adults with hearing loss. Over the past three years, Access HEARS has served nearly 1,600 older adults with 88.3% considered low-income. Over the past year, HASA provided charitable care to more than 1,550 low-income individuals, representing more than 64% of our total client population and 24% are older low-income adults. It is a part of our collective mission to serve those who need it the most.
HASA’s mission is to connect people to their worlds because there is an absolute need to understand and to be understood. HASA works toward these goals using the guiding principles of integrity, compassion, and equity. HASA has been serving greater Baltimore since 1926 and is the only non-profit speech and hearing center within our 35-mile radius. HASA is unique in that it offers a full complement of clinical services for the treatment of hearing and speech disorders “under one roof” as a foundation for family-centered care.
Our patients are diverse and have diverse needs. HASA treats individuals of all ages and races/ethnicities; 45% of our clients are African American, 27% are senior citizens, and 64% are on Medical Assistance or a reduced-fee program. HASA is the only consistently affordable option for low-income individuals who need audiology, speech therapy, and/or occupational therapy services.
Access HEARS was founded in 2014 by a team of otolaryngologists, researchers with expertise in hearing care and older adults, and social entrepreneurs at Johns Hopkins University, and with initial support from the AARP Foundation. Access HEARS is an award-winning Baltimore-based 501(c)(3) with the mission of systematically addressing each of the barriers to provide hearing help to those who have not traditionally accessed care. We overcome disparities by moving beyond the traditional confines of clinic-based hearing care. The program is delivered in the community, with materials written at an appropriate literacy level, tailored specifically for older adults, using low-cost, high-quality over-the-counter hearing technology that has been found to be comparable to gold standard hearing aids. Access HEARS has successfully executed major projects with AARP Foundation and the Maryland Department of Aging, serving a total >1,600 older adults in the past 3 years. For more information, visit http://accesshears.com/.
The Baltimore City Health Department’s Division of Aging
The Baltimore City Health Department’s Division of Aging is dedicated to improving the lives and well-being of Baltimore’s older adults. We coordinate services for older adults, adults with disabilities, and their families to maximize safety, health, and independence. We’re proud to advocate on their behalf when care providers fail to serve them, or when fraud is suspected. Through our volunteer programs and outreach initiatives, we approach aging with respectful, caring services that take into account each individual’s specialized needs. For more information, please visit https://health.baltimorecity.gov/programs/seniors.
About The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, one of the largest private charitable foundations in the United States, is dedicated to meeting the basic needs of people experiencing poverty. In 2020, the Foundation will provide approximately $130 million in total grant activity supporting nonprofits that provide direct services in the areas of Housing, Health, Jobs, Education, and Community Services. The Foundation’s priority communities include Baltimore, Chicago, Hawaii, Israel, New York City, Northeastern Pennsylvania, San Francisco, and Rural Communities (primarily rural areas within proximity to priority communities). The Foundation’s trustees are Ambassador Fay Hartog-Levin (Ret.), Chair; Robert T. Kelly, Jr.; Paula B. Pretlow; Gordon Berlin; and Nimrod Goor. Rachel Garbow Monroe serves as President and CEO. For more information, please visit www.hjweinbergfoundation.org.
# # #