MARSHALL?- The first thing you notice when you enter the new headquarters of the Hearing and Speech Center in Marshall is the feeling of spaciousness.
The office almost doubled in space from the previous location at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center, Linda Grong, the director and audiologist, said.
"We went from 1,700 to 2,600 square feet," she said.
Photo by Karin Elton
Hearing and Speech Center Director and Audiologist Dr. Linda Grong stands in front of one of the wall hangings at her recently-relocated office at the east end of the Market Street Mall. The wall hangings were created by her mother, Marilyn Stewart.
More important than the added space, the new location has the advantage of accessibility, she said.
"This is so much more user-friendly," she said.
The new location is at the east end of the Market Street Mall. If a patient needs to park in the handicapped space, the door is right nearby and then the Hearing and Speech Center is the first office.
At the old location, "we were all the way down the hall and parking was an issue," she said.
Grong said the response from customers "has been very positive."
Another problem at the old office was limited space for wheelchairs to move around in.
"It was a struggle with the wheelchairs," she said. "Now, say if there was a husband and wife in wheelchairs, they would be able to move around comfortably."
The Hearing and Speech Center, a place for hearing evaluation, and hearing aid sales and service, had been at its location for 28 years.
When Avera Marshall indicated that it needed the Hearing and Speech Center offices, Grong was given the nudge she didn't even know she needed.
"I would have stayed there," she said.
Now she has rooms which are dedicated to a single function, such as a consultation room. At the previous location, one room was used for three different purposes and the staff had to set up and disassemble the room as needed.
There is one room just for wax removal alone which is always needed before proper hearing tests can take place.
"In that room, we can make them comfortable," Grong said of her patients.
Grong is in the process of hiring another audiologists so there will be two treatment rooms in use.
A little room off the side of the reception area is a "kids' room" which has toys in it for children, Grong said.
"We get lots of families that come in with their little ones," she said.
Grong said babies are often referred to her after failing a hearing test.
She estimates that 25 percent of her business is 75 and older, 25 percent is 50-75, 25 percent is 25 to 50 and another 25 percent is from zero to 25.
In addition to rooms for testing and consulting, Grong has assistive listening products available that people can test. For example she has different phones for the hearing impaired such as Jitterbug and Clarity. There is a television set up where people can try different devices so they can hear the TV with greater clarity.
Along with the new technology - most hearing aids are now digital - Grong has noted that the number of cochlear implants has increased.
"There's a whole other world of options," she said.
The implants are being given at earlier ages, too, she said.
"The youngest one we've worked with was about 2," she said.
Older people are now getting cochlear implants, as well.
"The oldest that I've seen was probably 80," she said.
Grong has to make sure that she keeps up with all the new developments in her field.
"We're going to keep current so (the patient) can keep current," she said.