Communication as a Link to Health and Happiness
By Kelly Medinger
HASA uses health care grant to provide charitable care services to children and adults in Maryland
A 65-year-old woman named Dolores was referred to HASA (formerly known as the Hearing and Speech Agency) by her ENT for hearing aids. She had profound hearing loss. Even though her family knew she needed hearing aids, they could not afford the cost. They came to HASA for help.
Founded in 1926, HASA’s mission is to connect people to their worlds. Recognizing the critical role of communication in life, HASA provides clinical, educational, and American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation services to children and adults with the vision “to help them understand and be understood.”
“HASA is Baltimore’s best resource to support individuals with communication differences and disorders like autism, developmental language disorder, and hearing loss,” explains Erin K. Stauder, CEO of HASA. “Left untreated, these conditions can have wide-ranging devastating effects on people’s lives, causing academic problems, social difficulties, and challenges in the workplace.”
“We never turn anyone away due to their inability to pay,” states Ilana Glazer, External Relations Director at HASA. In 2020, this meant that nearly 1,000 people received assistance from the HASA Charitable Care Fund, supported with a grant from the Knott Foundation, to access comprehensive audiology, speech-language pathology, and occupational therapy.
The importance of charitable care has heightened with insurance coverage challenges. For example, stuttering treatment is not covered when it occurs spontaneously during childhood (which it most often does), and under Maryland law, hearing aids are provided for those on Medicaid, but not others who might not be able to afford them (like Dolores).
A Positive Outcome
At HASA, Dolores was fitted for hearing aids at a reduced fee. At her two-week follow-up appointment, she was found smiling and laughing in the clinic waiting room, heavily engaged in a conversation with her son and daughter-in-law. Her family reports that they were not even aware of how much she was missing in life until she got them.
“HASA’s Charitable Care program helps hundreds of people like Dolores to afford the services they need every year, preventing the serious long-term effects of untreated communication challenges,” states Glazer. Indeed, Dolores’ experience of reconnecting with family and friends is just one example of how important HASA’s mission and services are.
“Effective commination is vital to the health of individuals and communities,” concludes Stauder.