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August 8, 2004

Hearing-aid services to poor restored through several grants

From: Kalamazoo Gazette, MI - Aug 8, 2004

Some $120,000 in grant funds are helping the nonprofit Constance Brown Hearing Centers restore Medicaid hearing-aid services lost in state budget cuts.

Barbara Sharpe, Constance Brown director of development and communications, said the funds will be used to pay for hearing aids.

On Oct. 1, 2003, the state eliminated hearing aid services as a benefit for about 600,000 adult Michigan Medicaid recipients, including 12,085 in Kalamazoo County.

The cuts primarily affected the elderly and disabled, she said.

Grant funds come from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation's Catch the Spirit: Health Fund and its John E. Fetzer Institute Fund; the Arcus Gay and Lesbian Fund; the Harold and Grace Upjohn Foundation; and the Dorothy U. Dalton Foundation.

Sharpe said it is estimated that about 1,200 adults in Kalamazoo County have significant hearing loss that requires a hearing aid -- and who will wear one.

Sharpe said Constance Brown is the only nonprofit hearing center in western Michigan. It serves more than 8,000 clients and averages more than 12,000 clinic visits each year.

Information on the Medicaid hearing services is available at Constance Brown centers located at 1634 Gull Road and 4855 W. Centre St.

© 2004 Kalamazoo.