This is a creed that Dr. Mary Kay Uchmanowicz, an audiologist from Rhode Island, has lived by. This creed has inspired her mission to bring the gift of hearing to those in need.
“Hearing problems affect communication, and I want to help people improve their communication.”
Since 2006, Dr. Mary Kay has been taking trips to the Philippines every two years, bringing her skills, hearing aids, and hope to hundreds of people. She is currently preparing for another trip this February, and has received donations for ear molds from her community and church. Oticon has donated hearing instruments and Rayovac, the battery company, has provided a six month supply of batteries for the hearing aids. She has also collected many hearing aids from families of patients who have passed away.
She funds these trips with her own money and does not travel with an international group or organization. All of her services are given free of charge, she brings her services to rural and remote areas, and she returns every 2 years with more hearing equipment and patients waiting to see her.
“For me it’s about building relationships and helping to restore communication. I want to provide continuity of services and show consistency.”
Dr. Mary Kay describes the culture of the Filipino people with a phrase that translates to ‘go with the flow’. “Time does not control them. Even though I might have some clinics scheduled, some patients won’t show up until much later. The biggest problem is when I say I can only see 50 people, but 150 show up. So we started taking down names and I said I would begin where I left off. When I returned two years later, they were waiting for me.”
To those who wish to make their own trips to help others, she gives the advice of “go with your heart and be flexible.”
Dr. Mary Kay Uchmanowicz, who operates Twin River Hearing Health in Smithfield Rhode Island, is seeking donations of hearing aids and other forms of assistance for her trip to the Philippines in February. For more information, call her office at (401) 349-0456.