CLERMONT, Fla. – It’s something many people take for granted, being able to hear.
During the holidays, many are gathering with friends and family members, but those experiencing hearing loss may feel isolated and could have difficulty communicating.
A Lake County doctor is working to get results and help give the gift of hearing through a contest.
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This is the sixth year Dr. Kristen Weinbaum is hosting the “Gift of Hearing” contest at her Precision Hearing office, giving away hearing aids for free to someone in need this holiday season.
2020 contest winner Barbara Rubino read her entry letter for the first time. That letter reads in part:
“Only one person comes to my mind who I know is warranted and deserving of your support. She is one who gives herself to others out of the kindness of her heart daily... Oftentimes she is found nursing and caring for patients after hours and getting home late at night all alone... She is at an age to where many are retiring and choose to stay at home or travel, but not Barbara Rubino, she is unstoppable...”
“This is just amazing to see. I’ve never seen this letter until now. Wow, I can’t believe she thought so highly of me,” Rubino said as she get emotional.
At the time, Rubino had no idea her colleague in the medical field sent in the letter to the Gift of Hearing Contest.
“I started reading patients’ lips because I couldn’t hear what they were saying clearly. Then COVID hit and masks started and then I couldn’t read lips,” Rubino said. “She was tired of me saying ‘What, what?’ so I think that’s what prompted her to write the letter.”
Dr. Kristen Weinbaum said when she read the letter, she was inspired.
“I like that she’s trying her best to not let hearing loss hold her back. She’s still working and excelling in her job,” Weinbaum said.
In 2020, Rubino was chosen as the winner of Weinbaum’s Gift of Hearing contest, getting fitted and receiving a free hearing aid.
“I’m touched, I’m truly touched. This means the world to me. It’s the most amazing gift of all,” Rubino said.
Studies show over 48 million Americans report some degree of hearing loss. Dr. Weinbaum said many of those impacted never make it into doctors’ offices due to the cost.
“Hearing aids are typically not covered by insurance, unfortunately. Without insurance, they range from about $1,500 to about $3,500 per ear so it definitely can be a big investment for people,” Weinbaum said.
Dr. Weinbaum is no stranger to hearing loss, having lived with it herself since the age of five and always wanting to help improve the lives of others struggling with hearing loss. She is board certified in audiology and specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss at her Precision Hearing clinic in Clermont.
She plans to continue offering the free hearing aids every year as a holiday tradition.
“It’s so rewarding and it puts things in perspective for me,” Weinbaum said.
Dr. Weinbaum is accepting entries for the gift of hearing contest through Dec. 9.
Those wishing to share their personal story — or one of a friend or family member — should send it to Precision Hearing, describing why they or someone they know would benefit from winning a pair of hearing aids but have been unable to obtain them due to financial difficulties. Stories can be shared by email to email@example.com, by submission to www.giftofhearing.net or by mail to: Precision Hearing, 4331 S. Highway 27, Clermont, FL, 34711.
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