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Where listening is an important aid to hearing

Charlene Bauer is owner of Bauer Hearing, which officially opened in Elmira on Monday. Bauer is a hearing instrument specialist, and has been in the business of hearing aids for five years.
Charlene Bauer is owner of Bauer Hearing, which officially opened in Elmira on Monday. Bauer is a hearing instrument specialist, and has been in the business of hearing aids for five years. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]
Charlene Bauer is owner of Bauer Hearing, which officially opened in Elmira on Monday. Bauer is a hearing instrument specialist, and has been in the business of hearing aids for five years.
Charlene Bauer is owner of Bauer Hearing, which officially opened in Elmira on Monday. Bauer is a hearing instrument specialist, and has been in the business of hearing aids for five years. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]
The process of fitting someone with a hearing aid is quite involved. It’s seldom as straightforward as just fitting the right apparatus, but involves a range of services that help clients with hearing loss understand their condition and manage it effectively. Deciding to take a more holistic approach to the business, Charlene Bauer, a hearing instrument specialist, is starting her own solo venture in Elmira, Bauer Hearing.

“Of course a hearing aid is just that. It’s an aid for your hearing,” explains Bauer. For someone experiencing hearing loss, an aid can go a long way to helping improve clarity and audibility in day-to-day life, but the device is often really only part of the solution.

It’s in the name of her new business: Bauer Hearing Inc. Education and Treatment. Bauer says she not only sells hearing aids, but strives to help her clients with their hearing loss.

“One of the things I do is I educate people about their hearing loss, so that they understand it and can appreciate why it’s so important to get the brain active again.”

Bauer makes it a point of incorporating the education and treatment components right into her service, and at no extra charge. Rather, clients who are fitted with new hearing aids undergo several follow-up sessions that focus on rehabilitating those unused auditory muscles in the brain.

“I’ve even gone the extra due diligence to have a program called LACE (Language and Communication Enhancement) in the clinic for my clients,” says Bauer.

“It’s five different main tests so that clients can train their brain how to hear again. When clients haven’t been hearing for a while, their brain gets kind of lazy. So we want to help the brain rewire itself. It’s kind of learning how to listen again. Actually, it totally is,” she explains.

Clients commit to 11 follow-up sessions of half-an-hour each, included as part of the service.

“I don’t charge for any of my services – even wax removal, children’s testing, any of that stuff – because I think it’s so important.”

To Bauer, these vital services are part and parcel of what she does, and she is more than happy to offer them without charging extra. It’s a great way to ensure people are getting the absolute most out of their hearing aids, and it encourages clients to continue coming back to her business.

“People always say to me, ‘how can you do that?’” she says, but points out, “Other than time, it doesn’t cost me anything. I want to be the go-to-gal for getting people’s hearing aids to sound as great as they can.”

Bauer is keen to help people with their hearing aids when she thinks they will help, but she’s also mindful of her limitations as a hearing instrument specialist.

“I cannot … do all hearing procedures. There’s a specialist for that called ear, nose and throat (ENT). We don’t do operations on the eardrum or on the ear bones. We don’t do cochlear implants. I can’t recommend them, I can only send them to the ENT.”

Bauer encourages everyone to come to her new place on 25 Industrial Dr. in Elmira, even if it’s only to enjoy a coffee and have a talk. The office itself is warm and inviting, and was actually designed by Bauer’s husband Ross.

“Gorgeous,” is the word he kept in mind when designing the office space, says Ross Bauer.

“It’s a very unique place, and Charlene is a pretty unique young lady,” he says. “I think people will be happy to go to back there a second time. I think they’ll be anxious to go back and spend more time because it’s a nice atmosphere.”

Even people with hearing aids can come in to have their aids looked at Bauer and optimized – to sometimes surprising results.

“I listen. So most of the time my clients will say, ‘no one has ever done this for me before. No one’s every listened or understood what I needed,’” she says.

Bauer Hearing officially opened Monday. People are free to come by anytime, but Bauer plans to hold a Christmas open house on Friday and Saturday, December 15 and 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“I’m the happiest when I’m working, and when I’m with my clients. So my husband said, ‘I’m never going to see you again, am I?’ Because I’m always going to be here. And that’s exciting. I feel sorry for him,” she adds with a laugh.

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