Dedicated Audiologist Scoops Top International Award

A hardworking hearing care professional from Austria has been presented with a leading industry award, after beating off stiff competition from audiologists across Europe.

The coveted title of European Audiologist of the Year 2015 has been awarded to Herdis Menhardt, who works at Hör-Akustik Döbling, and comes just weeks after Herdis was announced as the Austrian Audiologist of the Year.

Herdis was nominated for the prestigious competition by one of her patients, Susanne, who submitted her hearing story as testament to the superb treatment Herdis provided her hearing impaired son, and the impact this had on her family’s lives.

Now in its eighth year, the Audiologist of the Year competition – which is run in partnership between the leading hearing aid battery manufacturer, Rayovac, (a division of Spectrum Brands Inc.), Audio Infos Magazine and the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturer’s Association (EHIMA) – celebrates the exceptional work of hearing care professionals across Europe. An independent judging panel of 17 industry professionals worked throughout the summer to whittle down the anonymous entries and find a worthy winner.

Each nominee is scored on the dedication, commitment, knowledge and levels of care demonstrated in their patient’s entry, with judges scoring entries from the UK, Ireland, Austria, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland. A winner is selected from each of the participating countries in September, with one of these going on to become European champion.

Herdis was unveiled as the European Audiologist of the Year during Rayovac’s annual Evening of Excellence, held during the EUHA congress in Nuremberg, Germany on October 14th.

Herdis said: “I’m really thrilled that Susanne nominated me for Audiologist of the Year, it’s been a pleasure to support her and her family through her son’s hearing difficulties and I’m delighted he is doing so well. Being an audiologist means I get to meet so many wonderful people every day and it really is a joy to see them thriving, winning this award is just the icing on the cake!”

In her nomination for Herdis, Suzanne described how her audiologist had supported her family after her baby son was born with a hearing situation. The life-changing effect that Herdis has had on the lives of Suzanne and her family, along with Herdis’ commitment to the hearing community outside of her every day job, led the judges to select her as this year’s worthy winner.

Paula Brinson-Pyke, Marketing Director at Rayovac, said: “The Audiologist of the Year competition is the perfect way for patients to give something back to their hearing care professional, and thank them for their care and support. Every year we receive more and more hearing stories from across the continent, and it never ceases to amaze us how much of an impact these hearing doctors have on the lives of their patients – they are truly inspirational.

“Reading Suzanne’s hearing story was incredibly heart-warming, Herdis is a very worthy winner.”

Other country winners who were in the running for the European title were:

  • Michael Bjerregaard, Denmark
  • Nicholas Derumaux, France
  • Maryem Wolff, Germany
  • Enda Dooley, Ireland
  • Henny Holwerda, Netherlands
  • Jose Maria López Vilches, Spain
  • Ingo Pälchen, Switzerland
  • Sarah Baumann, UK
  • Anna Kennryd, Sweden

Suzanne’s story

“I nominate my audiologist, because she accompanied me through a difficult time and was a true support thanks to her incredible dedication.

“When my second son was born, he was diagnosed with a hearing impairment while we were still in hospital. This was a severe shock, followed by many appointments at an otologists and in the hospital. Then came the next shock: we were told my son was almost deaf. This hit us hard, because we were also informed that with this diagnosis he would not be able to learn to hear and speak with hearing aids, but that Cochlear Implants would have to be surgically implanted.

“I cried nearly every day for the first 10 months because I did not know whether he would ever be able to hear. I was concerned about how he would communicate within our family and with his grandparents. How would he cope with the psychological burden of not being able to hear? Would this have any impact on his education or ability to make friends?

“I was incapable of fighting the tears during my first phone call to my audiologist. She immediately gave me an appointment. She was extremely empathetic and explained all the possibilities to me in long conversations, requested precise diagnostic reports from the physicians to determine the correct device and corrective setting, gave me advice regarding possible measuring methods other than the ABR used in the hospital and recommended physicians from whom I could obtain a second opinion (who were really excellent!).

“Thereafter I visited her at least once a week to discuss new results, have devices adapted or ear impressions made. The amount of care involved was immense, because our son refused to accept the devices and constantly tore them out and threw them away or needed new ear moulds due to growth, which he then broke again within the shortest time. The ear moulds are, by the way, very, very good. My early intervention specialist and audio paediatrician often approach me, because they are also of the opinion that they have seldom seen such good ear moulds.

“The setting of the device also sounds very good. No rustling, no shrill tones, just a pleasant listening. Our son nevertheless refused to accept these “things” on his ear and a device was soon lost, and another one broken due to a night in wet grass. I could always give her a call and rely on obtaining a new appointment, often on the same day. She also had an understanding for our son’s sleeping and meal times and also tried to consider these. She organised everything with the insurance company and with the hearing aid manufacturer. Simply great!

“Furthermore, she is extremely well connected because of her commitment and personal interest. She has regular contact with my early intervention specialist, audio therapist and otologist to arrange my son’s reactions to the hearing aid and his development. She informs about interesting events, and she furthermore organised a discussion afternoon in her surgery where I could meet other children with a hearing impairment and their parents. This was an incredible help because I was able to gain important information about the support options available, learned about other mothers’ personal experiences and saw children who coped well with life despite their hearing impairment.

“It was also thanks to her insistence that a secretory otitis media, which had been overlooked by the physicians, was finally surgically rectified. From then onwards, our son’s hearing improved with every passing day. Today my son is 21 months old and can hear relatively well even without a hearing aid. He speaks and responds wonderfully. The last measurement by the speech therapist disclosed that he is moderately hard of hearing.

“An inconceivably heavy burden has fallen off our chests and we are overjoyed to have such a communicative and happy child. We are eternally grateful to my audiologist for her terrific support in this, for us, extremely turbulent time, for all her efforts, her sympathy and above all else her terrific commitment! She thus more than deserves the title “Audiologist of the Year 2015.” We have personally already long since acknowledged her as such.”

"The Audiologist of the Year competition is the perfect way for patients to give something back to their hearing care professional, and thank them for their care and support."