Meet Kimberly, a high school senior who lives on a farm in Marion County outside of Salem and raises sheep. She experiences hearing loss which requires audiology evaluations and hearing aids so that she can go to school and participate in community activities with her typical peers.
She and her mother, Patie, shared her story and explained why HB 4104 is so critical for young people like Kimberly.
Q: Can you tell us a little about Kimberly?
She’s a very involved young lady. She belongs to two 4-H clubs, the FFA Organization for young people interested in farming, and participates in her church youth group and volunteers at church, too. She’s loves to sing.
Q: When was she diagnosed with hearing loss?
Three years ago, she had a growth in her ear that had to be removed. The growth caused damage and, after the surgery, the doctors weren’t able to completely restore to her hearing. She experiences bilateral hearing loss and has two hearing aids. It was a stressful, scary time for all of us. As a mom, I hope we never have to do this again. On the whole, Kimberly adjusted very well.
After the surgery, we had to wait for close to a year for her body to heal before they could do the audiology testing. During that time, Kimberly’s hearing loss was noticeable. The hearing aids made her quality of life so much better.
Q: Did you have insurance coverage? Did it cover the evaluation and hearing aids?
When I received the initial estimate of the cost, I nearly choked. It was somewhere between $8,000 and $15,000 for the evaluation and hearing aids. Fortunately, between our private insurance and the Oregon Health Plan, it was covered.
At the time, I wasn’t working, so we were a single-income family. Without our insurance coverage, it would’ve been very difficult — if not impossible — for them to pay for that.
Q: What has Kimberly’s life been like since she got the hearing aids?
With the hearing aids, we’ve noticed an improvement in Kimberly’s speech and singing. She loves to sing. We’ve appreciated her ability to sing more when she has hearing aids.
Q: Can you tell me more about her work with the young farmers organization?
Kimberly will receive her state degree in FFA. To qualify, she had to do a six-minute presentation in front of a group people she didn’t know, and document four years of work for her state degree. Her projects focus on animals and fruits and vegetables.
One of her projects is raising sheep. She has to help take care of the sheep, which includes breeding, helping them have babies, giving them shots, trimming their hooves, shearing them, and cleaning out the barn.
Q: Why is this bill important for young people like Kimberly?
Without ongoing access to insurance coverage, her quality of life would be greatly diminished and it would potentially become unsafe for her to be in the community.
Questions for Kimberly
Q: What difference do your hearing aids make in your life?
It is easier to hear when I am in a group. I am able to understand what others say and can talk with them.
Q: What do you think would happen if you didn’t have your hearing aid?
I would not be able to work as a volunteer with children. I wouldn’t know what I was being taught in school.
Q: Can you tell me about one of your favorite FFA projects?
I will be getting a proficiency award for vegetable production. I really like working in the garden and helping plants grow.
Q: If you knew of other kids who had trouble hearing and needed hearing aids but had trouble affording them, what would you say?
Please help them get hearing aids so they learn and do the things they like.