The staff at the Franklin office of Hearing Services of Franklin will tell you they aren’t afraid of seeing tears in the eyes of their patients. Owner and Doctor of Audiology Elizabeth Welch, AuD., confidently says, “Tears don’t scare me.”
But it’s not because she and her team aren’t compassionate. It’s the exact opposite, really. In her line of work, nearly all tears are tears of joy from patients whose hearing has been restored or improved thanks to the professionals in her office and the technology they have access to.
“I love tears in my office because they are always happy tears,” Welch said. “I know I have changed a patient’s quality of life.”
This is why Welch and her growing staff of Audiologists have expanded into four offices, with one in Franklin, Spring Hill and two in the Chattanooga area. There are five Audiologists on her Williamson County team, four of which work out of the recently expanded and renovated offices in Physicians Plaza adjacent to Williamson Medical Center.
Welch has worked with Hearing Services of Franklin for 21 years. She began working for a previous owner and in 2009, purchased the business and brought two Audiologists with her. She added another provider and opened a Spring Hill office just a year later.
Audiology is the study of the ear and her team not only focus on correcting hearing loss, but also balance issues and vertigo that stem from inner ear issues.
Yet another practice that can make patients who have been suffering from positional vertigo cry tears of joy.
“We see a good amount of balance patients,” she said. “A lot of times, it’s something we can actually fix right here in the office. We do a balance workup and see where the breakdown is. If it’s the inner ear, it’s very likely we can fix it.”
With hearing patients, Welch and her team do everything from baseline hearing testing, to fitting for hearing aids and screen and program implantable hearing devices called cochlear implants. These are hearing devices that are implanted surgically, but the pre-screening and long-term care is handled in the office.
“A cochlear implant is an implantable electric stimulation of the inner ear that stimulates the nerve and enables a patient to hear,” Welch said. “Surgery is scary, so a lot of times these patients put off having this surgery and get close to giving up on being able to hear again. So, when they finally have the surgery and regain their hearing, it’s is amazing.”
But beyond providing healthcare on a daily basis, Welch and her team pride themselves on having established a family. Not just among the staff, but the patients as well. It is their goal for patients to walk in and immediately feel at home.
It’s something that begins in the waiting room and extends to the patient care and that’s by design.
“We want to have a family atmosphere here,” Welch said. “We don’t want our patients to feel like they are coming to the doctor. They come in to be part of our family.”
In a recent renovation and expansion of the Franklin office space, Welch and her team added sliding barn doors and painted the walls inviting colors. The halls feel more like Pottery Barn than a stuffy healthcare office.
In addition to her offices, Welch has established a charitable organization called Hearing Connections, to help families who may not be able to afford hearing aids.
“I didn’t want to not be able to help a patient just because they couldn’t afford the hearing aids, so in 2014 I created this non-profit to have a give-back approach. Patients register through the program and pay a small fee. We ask them to volunteer for another non-profit as part of their payment. That way, they get help with their hearing and they also help someone else.”
Because hearing aid technology is constantly changing and improving, many patients upgrade their technology every three to four years. The older hearing aids still work and can be donated to Hearing Connections so they can be of benefit to someone else.
“We recondition donated devices and we give them to someone in need,” Welch said. “We also accept donations from when a patient passes away. Often, family members don’t know what to do with hearing aids, but they can be donated back to us.”
For more information on Hearing Services of Franklin or Hearing Connections, visit www.hearfranklin.com.
HSF. MUA – Char Braden. Creative Director – Crystal C Harris. Photographer – Timothy W Harris. Studio: Faith Fashion & Photos on location in Winchester TN.