“Before partnering with Cochlear Americas,” said Lauren Reale, AuD, “patients seeking cochlear implants were referred to Philadelphia or New York. Now, after partnering with Dr. Seth McAfee, an Otolaryngologist with Coastal ENT in Manahawkin, they can receive care right up the Parkway.”
Dr. McAfee treats adult cochlear implant patients, and he is the only surgeon in the area performing the surgery. Cochlear implants, explained Lauren, are not just for severe to profound hearing loss any more. They are for people for whom hearing aids alone are not enough. Sometimes, even with hearing aids, people have trouble hearing in social settings, listening to music or using the phone. Cochlear implants are a different device to take the place of hearing aids when they are no longer of benefit.
According to the Cochlear Americas website, “Cochlear implants are designed to mimic the function of a healthy inner ear (or cochlea). They replace the function of damaged sensory hair cells inside the inner ear to help provide clearer sound than what hearing aids can provide. A cochlear implant system, like the industry-leading Cochlear™ Nucleus® System, has two parts: the external sound processor and the implant that is surgically placed under the skin and attached to an electrode array that is placed in the inner ear.
Together, these parts bypass the part of the ear that isn’t working, sending sound straight to the hearing nerve.”
Bacharach is now part of the Cochlear Americas, Cochlear Provider Network that guides the patient through the entire process. The cochlear implants are only approved for people who have met strict hearing and medical criteria. Each patient is assigned to a cochlear concierge team that includes the surgeon, an audiologist, customer service representative and another patient who has been through the journey.
Because a cochlear implant is a medical device, most insurance covers the procedure. The implant bypasses the damaged part of the cochlea and directly stimulates the nerve of hearing, allowing individuals with moderate to profound hearing loss to receive sound. The part of the device worn externally is the actual microphone and speech processor.
Lauren said she may identify candidates for the procedure, or she may meet patients when they have been referred by the surgeon. Either way, the Cochlear Provider Network is on hand to lend support and improve the lives of people whose poor hearing limits them, every step of the way.