Hearing Evaluation Services of Buffalo, Inc. (HES) is a very unique organization as it is one of the only freestanding non-profit audiology practices in the country. Over the years, HES has provided quality hearing services at a variety of locations throughout Western New York (WNY) including downtown Buffalo, Amherst, Orchard Park, Tonawanda, and Williamsville.
HES was founded in 1981 by audiologist, Tom White. Prior to founding HES, Tom was the Director of Audiology for Buffalo Otolaryngology Group (BOG), a large ear, nose, and throat practice in Buffalo. Tom had a strong relationship with world-renowned otolaryngologist, Dr. Irwin Ginsberg of BOG; together they evaluated and treated thousands of individuals in WNY.
There is a rich history behind the formation of HES. Prior to April 1978, it was against the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Code of Ethics for audiologists to dispense hearing aids. The audiologists providing testing services to BOG were responsible for determining the necessity for amplification and then referring the patients to hearing aid dealers in the community to be fit with hearing aids. When ASHA finally retracted that position statement, Tom White and Dr. Ginsberg developed a proposal to establish HES as a freestanding non-profit audiology group. This allowed HES audiologists to fit hearing aids in a highly ethical manner, which is at the heart of our mission. Non-profit organizations, by design, fulfill a need in the community with an Executive Director and a volunteer Board of Directors who ensure that the organization’s mission is fulfilled.
Due to ASHA’s early stance in regard to audiologists dispensing hearing aids, the most prevalent model for hearing aid dispensing was a sales model. HES developed a professional model, whereby the audiologist would take more of a counseling approach to the fitting of hearing aids. The patient’s best interests would always be at the forefront of the treatment process, even if that meant the audiologist would only counsel and educate the patient in cases where a hearing aid was not appropriate. The audiologist’s compensation would never be tied to the number of hearing aids sold.
Over the years, HES has expanded its scope from a strictly hearing aid dispensing practice to one that offers a full range of audiological services. In 2000, Tom White retired from the organization and Dr. Ann Stadelmaier was named Executive Director. Dr. Stadelmaier extended HES’ community involvement by developing an Industrial Hearing Conservation Program in 2002, in which HES began providing hearing screenings to Buffalo-area companies whose workers were exposed to high-level noise. Under Dr. Stadelmaier’s direction, HES also acquired the Hearing and Balance Center of WNY in 2003. This allowed the organization to expand its services by providing evaluations to patients with dizziness and balance disorders.
Sadly, in 2006, Dr. Stadelmaier lost a long battle with cancer. At that time, Dr. Anne Orsene was named Executive Director. Dr. Orsene, along with members of the HES staff, founded the Dr. Ann Stadelmaier Hearing Aid Fund in 2006 to honor her 22-year legacy as an audiologist. The Dr. Ann Stadelmaier Hearing Aid Fund, with the assistance of over 30 local Lions Clubs, has helped hundreds of individuals in financial need achieve their goal of better hearing through the gift of a hearing aid.
HES has always been committed to the development of our staff and to the field of audiology. The audiologists at HES have been actively involved in training university students to help ensure the future success and growth of our profession. One of Tom White’s goals was to transition existing HES audiologists from masters-level to doctoral-level audiologists. The organization supported their continuing education and in 2008, HES became the largest organization in WNY to be fully staffed with Doctors of Audiology.
The organization grew once again under the direction of Dr. Orsene. In 2009, Dr. Orsene partnered with the Hearing and Speech Center of WNY at a new location in Tonawanda. Dr. Orsene also partnered with neurologist, Dr. Lixin Zhang of Dent Neurologic Institute, and together they launched the Dent Dizziness and Balance Center in 2009. This collaboration enabled HES to become involved in high-level balance testing within a neurological practice. In February 2010, Dr. Orsene opened another HES office at the Williamsville Pediatric Center of Excellence. This pediatric test center expanded HES’ outreach to the pediatric population. At this location, HES began performing Early Intervention (EI) and Committee on Preschool Education (CPSE) evaluations, utilizing sophisticated diagnostic equipment to ensure the highest level of audiological pediatric services in the WNY community.
In 2012, HES expanded its outreach to patients living with bothersome tinnitus (ringing in the ear). HES established a Tinnitus Program to provide assessment, treatment, and counseling to individuals affected by this debilitating condition. In 2013, HES audiologists expanded the Tinnitus Program in another partnership with Dent Neurologic Institute. Additionally in 2013, BOG joined Buffalo Medical Group (BMG) and the audiologists at HES began providing testing services for this large, Buffalo-area medical practice as well.
The non-profit organization that Tom White founded in 1981 has stood the test of time. HES’ reputation for providing the highest quality hearing health care has been maintained since its inception in 1981. The organization currently operates out of multiple HES locations, BMG offices, and Dent Neurologic Institute. HES continues to expand its services and outreach in WNY and is proud to have reached its goal of becoming a truly autonomous, freestanding audiology practice.
Though HES has grown over the years, we always keep our patients’ best interests at heart by continually providing superior, ethical solutions for the hearing and balance impaired in WNY. We have always been committed to ensuring that every hearing aid is fit to maximize communication ability and improve our patient’s quality of life. At HES, we treat every patient like family and our personal approach to hearing health care will forever remain at the heart of our mission.