Local HEARoes: Father-Son Team Empowers Community
When it comes to the father-son duo behind Westborough’s family owned Professional Hearing — a longtime practice helping community members with hearing problems, tinnitus, and ear protection needs — their differences and their commonalities make a winning combination.
Treating hearing difficulties is a challenging yet exciting and rewarding effort for the pair. “I’m pretty positive and upbeat,” says practice founder and board-certified hearing instrument specialist Peter Lee. “Hearing care is serious business that also brings a lot of joy, so there’s a healthy helping of smiles and laughter around here with our team and patients.”
Peter’s son, Alex Lee, a fellow BC-HIS, counts himself as a compassionate realist who takes deep pride in taking the time to get things right and carefully understanding each patient’s concerns and needs. As a hearing technology user himself, he understands the importance of setting realistic expectations and works tirelessly to find the best solution for each individual. Alex understands how frustrating and isolating hearing loss can be. “Helping others reach their potential and be their best selves drives me to get better and better,” says Alex.
Together, father and son combine their passion for better hearing into a shared professional mission: to help people overcome the effects of hearing impairment and take control of their lives through better hearing.
It all started over 25 years ago when a friend working in hearing care inspired Peter Lee to change direction from his corporate role. After years of working with big high-tech firms, he opened his own practice to make an even bigger impact in life, helping those with hearing care needs in his community.
Seeing his patients’ transformations after fitting them with hearing technology — especially their sense of empowerment, confidence, and reconnection at home and work — solidified Peter’s motivation early on. “My enjoyment lies in helping someone hear and understand again,” says Peter, “and enjoy life more fully.”
The practice’s early community ties remain strong. When Peter first reached out to local senior centers over 25 years ago, three said, “Yes!” He and Alex still visit them monthly in Shrewsbury, Northborough, and Westborough, providing complimentary hearing screenings and answering questions about hearing problems, the better-hearing process, and hearing technology.
Want to add your center to Professional Hearing Healthcare Associates‘s site visits?
Back when Alex joined the Peace Corps in 2011 for a 27-month stint in Albania helping with community development, his father’s advice stayed with him as he evaluated his life. “You can be great in this industry,” Peter had told him regarding a possible future in hearing health care. “With my experience and expertise and your experience as a hearing-aid user, we could help thousands of people.”
Alex has worn hearing technology since the first grade. For Peter, helping his son hear better became a lifelong mission. Doctors couldn’t find a reason for the hearing loss, but Alex came to accept it. When he decided to apply his passion for helping others to the call of hearing care, he came to embrace it.
Knowing his own personal journey with hearing loss and encouraged by his dad, the Fairfield University graduate returned from Albania in 2013 and rolled up his sleeves that summer in the family business. He initially joined the practice as a front office staffer, able to see firsthand the difference his father made in others’ lives.
“Patients would come in frustrated but would leave with a smile,” says Alex. “It showed me how important our care and our work are and how many people we could help.”
Hearing loss can’t be reversed but can be effectively managed. “Once you have a hearing loss, it stays with you for the rest of your life. Our mission is to help our patients navigate through that journey,” says Alex. Peter and Alex provide the lifetime care needed for their patients through that journey, including fittings, adjustments, cleanings, repairs, technology updates, and much more.
Once when one of the local senior centers hadn’t heard from a community member in some time, a courtesy check uncovered that the man was isolated with one lost hearing aid and the other broken. The senior center called Peter’s office at 10am, and by 1pm, the patient was in for a hearing emergency. Peter fashioned a temporary earmold for the gentleman using ingenuity and quick-curing silicone. By the time he left, the patient was reconnected with the world with a pair of loaner hearing aids.
“We can’t guarantee you the same results, but we can guarantee the same level of effort and attention to detail to solve your everyday hearing needs.” Helping the gentleman in need was just the type of dedication and care the practice was built on.
Patient success stories like this delight Peter, whose engineering training and problem-solving mindset — his Tufts University degree is in mechanical engineering — figures prominently in his unofficial role as the practice’s chief hearing engineer, a veritable MacGyver.
Alex’s dad also goes above and beyond in giving back to the hearing-care field and helping shape the industry’s future. During the final year of Peter’s 2009-2012 tenure as president of the Massachusetts Hearing Society, the group was named chapter of the year by the International Hearing Society. He and Alex also host a weekly radio show, discussing all aspects of hearing, hearing problems, and technology.
As a hearing care professional as well as someone who personally uses hearing aids to communicate his best, Alex is constantly evaluating new devices from hearing-aid laboratories before recommending the best technology to his patients. Both providers stay up on hearing-care trends through continuing-education opportunities.
The duo also keeps up with a few favorite pastimes — including the New England Patriots, the Boston Celtics, and the Boston Red Sox. Alex has additionally taken up boxing over the last couple of years, self-taught some guitar during his Peace Corps tenure, and enjoys cycling and the flying-disc sport, Ultimate. Peter, who likens cooking to a chemistry session, says he makes a mean white-clam pizza. Alex agrees.
They also agree on the importance of communication empowerment. “It’s truly a pleasure to get up every morning knowing you’ll be helping someone with their hearing,” says Peter, who recalled a man tearfully thanking him in the grocery store for having helped his mother live her final years much happier. “Helping our patients overcome hearing difficulties is our greatest joy and helping them fulfill their hearing potential is our greatest challenge.”
What Sets Professional Hearing Apart?
Our Process: The 5 C’s of Better Hearing
When you come to Professional Hearing for a hearing aid fitting, we utilize the 5 C’s to of Better Hearing to guide us. We strive to find the best hearing solution for each individual and if one of these C’s is not met, the solution is not optimal. If you already have hearing aids but don’t like them, it’s likely one of these C’s was not met. Please come in and we’ll see if we can help.
The first C is Comfort. Your hearing aid should be physically comfortable in your ear. The “coupler” that fits into your ear (an ear mold, a custom hearing aid shell, or an ear dome) should be comfortable to wear. It should not be too tight and cause discomfort, nor should it be too loose and slip out. We like the hearing aid to be snug and comfortable but not too tight. One must be able to wear the hearing aid for many hours without any discomfort. This is the first test: wearing a hearing aid for 10 to 12 hours a day without feeling discomfort. It will impact how you hear and how successful a hearing aid user you will be.
Once you’re comfortable with wearing the hearing aid then we can put focus on the clarity of the sounds that you are hearing. Hearing aids should make sounds louder but only loud enough to give you clarity in speech. Often times, new users would come in and request we make the hearing aid as loud as possible. This is usually not productive because when sounds are too loud they often become distorted. It is important to give you clarity in speech without being too loud. Depending on your hearing loss, you may hear more or less background noise. Current technology does not allow us to eliminate background noise. Our objective is to make background noise manageable so that it does not disturb you or your ability to hear and understand in the presence of noise.
Convenience means the hearing aid should be easy to use. This is especially important for those with issues with their hands. In the beginning you might need to take some extra time to insert or remove the hearing aid. After about 3 weeks, you should be comfortable putting it in and taking it out. You should be comfortable opening and closing the battery door and replacing batteries or putting it in the charging kit. Once using your hearing aid becomes a part of your daily routine it will make your life easier.
Your hearing aid should look good to you. This can mean it is discrete and blends in with your hair or skin color or it can be worn as an accessory. Hearing aids come in all shapes and colors. Some people don’t mind how their hearing aids look while others are more sensitive. Cosmetics are important to make sure you feel confident while wearing your hearing aid.
Connectivity is a new addition to the original 4 C’s. The latest hearing aids have begun to connect with cell phones, tablets, TVs, music players, etc. These devices help us stay connected with our friends, family, media, and the world around us. For those who like technology and like to be connected with their devices, this is an important aspect of a successful fitting.
If we are able to meet each of these about 5 objectives of Better Hearing, you will be on your way to hearing better, understanding better, being more confident, and feeling more comfortable with your hearing difficulties. We hope these 5 C’s help you understand some of the challenges hearing aid users face, as they begin their journey to better hearing. Better hearing is not a quick fix; rather it is a journey, a destination, and a process.