IM this article to a friend!

February 3, 2003


From: The Southern Illinoisan, Illinois - 03 Feb 2003

MARION -- A West Frankfort-based hearing aid distributor has increased its presence in Southern Illinois with the grand opening of a facility in Marion.

Family Hearing Centers Inc. opened a new location at 2300 W. Main St. in Marion.

Cindy and Fred Sims of Marion are the managers of the new facility. The couple joined the company in August after a career in the aerospace defense industry where they lived in Texas.

"We moved back here in 2000," Cindy Sims said. "We found it necessary to move back to take care of family."

The Simses found when they moved to the region that there was not much to choose from when it came to a career in hi-tech industry. They were considering moving back to Texas, but an opportunity with Family Hearing Centers presented itself.

"(Company owner) Debbie (Gostowski) asked us if we would consider opening up an office here and managing it," Cindy said. "We were intrigued and thought it would be very interesting."

Since August, Fred and Cindy Sims have received their certification from the Illinois Department of Public Health as licensed hearing instrument specialists. They opened the Marion location last fall, but held the grand opening Jan. 27.

"In our situation, we were in the process of getting our license and (Gostowski) had to do all of the testing until we got the license," Cindy Sims said. "We wanted to wait until we were fully ready to go before we held a grand opening."

Family Hearing Centers are full-service facilities that offer ear examinations, hearing screenings, comprehensive hearing tests, tympanometer readings and reflex testing, computer audiograms, and conventional and digital technology hearing aids among their services.

"What happened in the old days was if your hearing changed, you had to buy a new hearing aid," Fred Sims said. "With the digitals, if your hearing changes, we can reprogram is and the same hearing instrument can last you a lot longer."

Fred Sims noted that about 28 percent of all people suffer from some sort of hearing loss, but only 5 percent actually have done something about it. He also said that about 90 percent of hearing loss is from nerve damage, which can be helped by hearing aids.

Any service that Family Hearing Center can provide in its Marion office is free. That includes the hearing tests and repairs, cleaning and programming on hearing aids.

"If we can do it here in our facility, we do it at no charge," Cindy Sims said.

"In fact, we have people who walk in and tell us they bought a hearing aid somewhere else and it has never worked right," Fred Sims said. "We will work on it, too. Anything we can do we won't charge people for."

Family Hearing Centers also sells hearing aids. The Marion location is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. They do stay late if people request services after 4:30.

"We have frequently stayed open later for customers that have unusual hours," Cindy Sims said. "We rarely leave here before 7 or 8 at night."

Family Hearing Centers Inc. has been in business for eight years, and also has locations in West Frankfort, Vandalia and Effingham. The company is holding a grand opening this week for its new location at 100 S. Market St. in Sparta.

618-997-3356 x15812

copyright © 2003, The Southern Illinoisan, a Lee Enterprises subsidiary