1889 Foundation grants $20,000 to Easterseals Western and Central Pennsylvania (ESWCPA) to benefit “Equitable Hearing Health” initiative.

The funds will be used to cover the cost of hearing aids, fittings, and follow-up appointments for qualifying patients in Cambria and Somerset counties.

“Easterseals Western and Central Pennsylvania has served the Johnstown and Somerset areas since 1949.  The low-income and less fortunate members of our communities struggle to afford hearing aids even at the lowest possible cost.  Hearing impaired individuals deserve the right to live a normal life by having the opportunity to hear, a basic right that many take for granted.”  said 1889 Foundation president Sue Mann.

ESWCPA will utilize a new program through hearing aid company Starkey called Starkey Cares. The program provides Starkey hearing aids to qualifying individuals. Once a patient is diagnosed with hearing loss, they can submit an application detailing their income proving they fall at 200% or below the federal poverty line and cannot afford the cost of hearing aids. If approved, the patient will receive Starkey hearing aids.

“Thanks to funding from 1889 Foundation our mission will continue to lead to 100% equity, inclusion, and access for individuals with disabilities, their families and communities,” said ESWCPA corporate and foundation support specialist Sarah Kern.

Funding will provide up to six visits for hearing aids per patient. These visits include hearing aid evaluation, hearing aid visits, and four follow-up support appointments.

Sometimes Starkey Hearing Aids aren’t the best option for a patient so, with the grant, ESWCPA plans to assist patients to purchase other hearing aid brands as well. The 1889 Foundation grant will aid qualifying patients diagnosed with hearing loss who are unable to afford hearing aids.

The grant is very much needed because most major healthcare insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid, do not cover the cost of hearing aids. Though, statistically, individuals who are 50 and older are significantly more likely to suffer from hearing loss, Medicaid will only fund the entire cost of hearing aids in children 21 and younger.