Seeing the impact of someone either hearing properly for the first in their lives, or simply being able to hear and understand a conversation better never gets old for Dr. Gregory Mistal.
Despite close to five decades in the business, the Doctor of Audiology at Kennedy Hearing Centre in Coquitlam marvels at the instantaneous improvement his efforts can make.
That’s why when he takes a vacation now, he’s never far from helping people in need.
For the past three years, Dr. Mistal and his wife Barbara have set up hearing clinics when they visit Mexico. On the most recent trip, they spent 11 days testing and fitting patients with devices.
“The people we see, they can’t afford the kind of treatment or equipment we can provide,” says Dr. Mistal. “And we’ve treated people from 96-years-old to, I think the youngest one we saw was eight.”
The majority attending the clinics are family and friends of employees at the local resorts where the Mistals stay.
“The resorts we go to make a point of giving back to their employees. They do things like providing English classes so a gardener can move up to become a housekeeper,” Dr. Mistal says. “So, when I saw they were providing that kind of help, I asked about giving assistance to those with hearing loss.”
Dr. Mistal collects the hearing aids - usually models that have been discontinued but are still in perfect working order. He performs the hearing tests, and his wife helps fit the patients with hearing aids.
“The effect this kind of help provides is like night and day,” Dr. Mistal says. “I had one older man come 14 hours by bus to see me. And when we were finished, he was overwhelmed by being able to now not be frustrated by having to ask people to repeat what they said to him.”
“I also had a little girl who had close to a 60 per cent hearing loss. I was a little concerned about how much we could help her. But once she got the hearing aids she was immediately telling all of her friends.”
It’s those types of immediate successes which made Dr. Mistal choose audiology.
“The satisfaction of being to help someone so profoundly never gets old.”