Oticon President Gary Rosenblum shares his experience as a volunteer for OtiCongress Alaska humanitarian mission

Oticon’s week-long event, OtiCongress 2018, combined professional development and humanitarian efforts, bringing more than 100 independent hearing care professionals who work with Oticon’s products to rural communities in southwest Alaska. Oticon partnered with Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC), a Tribal Organization that administers a comprehensive healthcare delivery system for 58 rural communities, to provide hearing tests to more than 200 patients and fit more than 150 hearing aids donated by the Oticon Hearing Foundation. Some of the hearing care professionals who volunteered with OtiCongress have shared their experiences, but today we’re highlighting another perspective—that of Oticon President Gary Rosenblum.

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“Although I’ve spent most of my career in healthcare with a focus on consumer-driven medical devices, I didn’t fully understand the immediate impact a hearing device can have on someone’s life until I spent time with our customers and sat in on their fittings,” Gary explained. “Then, I joined the mission trip in Alaska and saw that change on a different level—hundreds of lives changed in a matter of hours.”

“Hundreds of lives changed in a matter of hours.”

During their time in Bethel, Alaska, all OtiCongress participants who opted to partake in the humanitarian mission had a job to do. For Gary, that meant working the front office to manage the flow of patients at the hospital and guide people through the process of receiving exams, diagnostics, and fittings for hearing devices. Meanwhile, the volunteer hearing care professionals conducted hearing tests, fittings, and met with patients in a hearing clinic that was created within the Bethel community specifically for the mission.

For Gary, the OtiCongress mission trip was an opportunity to interact with customers, patients, and visit the true meaning of Oticon’s work.

“There was an overwhelmingly positive response to our presence in Alaska. This was our first mission trip in the U.S., and it reminded us that there are places here at home that still need a better audiological infrastructure,” Gary said. “One gentleman who was fitted asked if he could speak to the President of Oticon. I happened to be right there at the front desk, and during our chat, he told me how much our efforts meant to him and his community and that they won’t forget us.”

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Inspired by the community’s response, Gary was quick to point out that the volunteer hearing care professionals, Oticon’s customers, work to deliver these experiences every day.

 “I was impressed by how much energy the volunteers had in order to deliver great service to patient after patient. While I was exhausted, I was also reminded that our professional partners bring this level of passion and energy to their work every day—whether it’s on a mission trip in an Alaskan village or with patients in their hometowns.”

“I was impressed by how much energy the volunteers had in order to deliver great service to patient after patient.”

As a company, Oticon puts an emphasis on feedback and iteration, and the volunteer hearing care professionals delivered that in the Bethel community as well, as Gary pointed out.

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“Our team of volunteers made recommendations on equipment that would make the mission clinic function more efficiently. They continuously hold Oticon to a higher standard, and that’s feedback we take seriously and appreciate.”

Although the humanitarian mission is only part of OtiCongress, the impact is long-lasting. For Gary and the hearing care professionals who volunteer, the trips are an opportunity to come together and see the life-changing effects of our collective efforts. Together we help people live their lives to the fullest.

“It reminds you of why you do what you do.”

“Our work at Oticon centers around helping our customers and their practices, which helps patients. When you see 100 people fit in one day, people who have been given the gift of better hearing, it inspires you to do your best. It reminds you of why you do what you do. It gives me an inspirational lift for when I go back to the office, and I’m reminded of the impact we can make.”


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