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North Hills Monthly

Building Relationships is Key to Better Hearing at Swift Audiology

Sep 30, 2015 02:43PM ● By Vanessa Orr

Dr. Nicole Schott and Alice Ash

Debra Swift
For more than 28 years, Debra Swift’s goal at Swift Audiology has been to enable patients to experience the freedom of better hearing…and that starts with listening to what they have to say. While patients have many options of where to purchase a hearing aid—you can even buy one off of the Internet—finding and fitting the right device requires understanding the person who is going to wear it.

“The professional that you go to for your hearing health care makes all of the difference in the world,” explained Swift. “When a patient comes in, we not only measure their ability to hear and understand, but we also discuss their lifestyles and what they want a hearing device to do. And we are there as their needs change, continuing to evaluate their hearing loss and to provide maintenance and follow-up care, which is vital to the performance of any device that they choose.”

While many people think that hearing loss is not a serious problem, it can affect people in a number of negative ways. “People have no idea how important hearing is, because you hear with your brain and not with your ears,” explained Swift. “When you can’t hear, it affects your cognitive awareness and your ability to function in real time. You can’t keep your memory sharp if your ears are not feeding information into the brain.”

According to Swift, studies by Johns Hopkins show a direct correlation between hearing loss and early onset dementia, and the National Council on Aging studies show that hearing loss can lead to isolation, depression, embarrassment, and further cognitive issues. “It can even affect a person’s job performance and result in that person not earning as much money, or having as many promotions as they should,” she added.

Perhaps even more important is the fact that hearing loss can also affect a person’s relationships. “The very first thing our patients usually tell us is that a spouse or other family member made them come in—that they’ve been on their case forever,” said Swift. “Loved ones often notice the problem first, and become frustrated trying to communicate with the person who can’t hear well. They start putting up walls, which isolates the person with hearing loss even further.”

Rachelle Smelko, patient care coordinator, Marie Howland and Dr. Nicole Schott
Since starting her practice almost three decades ago in a small pharmacy in Belle Vernon, PA, Swift has helped thousands of clients to hear better, reconnecting them to the world and to the ones they love. “We are definitely patient-focused, and understand how hearing problems can affect a person’s quality of living,” said Swift. As the need for her services grew, Swift gradually added new offices in Washington, McCandless and McMurray, PA, and she will be opening her fourth office this October at 203 S. Duffy Road in Butler, PA. That office will be led by Dr. Nicole Schott, who began working with Swift Audiology this past June.

“She’s awesome—she’s so focused on patient care, and she’s very warm and professional; the patients just love her,” said Swift. “She also really knows her stuff, having worked at an ENT doctor’s office and in a private audiology practice, so she’ll be serving as our trainer for the other audiologists who come on board moving forward.”

Swift is also preparing for the future with the addition of her son, Chad, to the business and her niece, Melisa, who will help to oversee operations as the company continues to expand. “While I don’t plan to retire any time soon, I wanted to make sure that our clients’ needs would always be met, and that our core values of integrity, relationship-building and superior patient care would continue to be upheld,” she explained, adding that Chad, who has a business/law degree, and Melisa, who holds a Ph.D., have a combined 30 years of business experience and are extremely qualified to carry the family business forward for years.

It is this personal touch that has enabled Swift Audiology to succeed for so many years, and has kept clients coming back as their needs, and technology, has changed. “Oh my gosh, people have so many options today—from hearing devices that they take out every night, to Lyric extended wear devices, to micro-digital devices that are worn outside the ear that are not visible to others—it’s just crazy,” said Swift. “And these devices come in so many different colors, models and styles—each year, companies put roughly $80 million to $90 million into research and development for improved technology.

“However, what people have to remember is that a hearing device is like a blank computer when it arrives—you can’t program it over the Internet,” she added. “That’s why it’s so important to work with a hearing professional. Not only can they help you find the right hearing device, program it, calibrate it in your ear, and help you acclimate to its use, but they can be there when your hearing needs change as a result of getting older, or because of other factors, like undergoing chemotherapy or taking medications that affect how you hear. Everyone’s cognition and tolerance to noise is different, and these devices need to be customized. There is not one size or programming that fits all.”

Swift Audiology’s patient testimonials bear out what a difference this partnership can make, with patients citing that they now have more confidence, are socializing again, and are hearing sounds that they haven’t heard in years. Said Swift, “When people experience the freedom of better hearing, it is a total life-renewing experience.”

To learn more about Swift Audiology, call 412-536-8223 or visit

This advertorial has been provided by Swift Audiology.