Summary of Remarks given at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Annual Constituents’ Day at the Massachusetts Statehouse, April 14, 2015
Click here to view the event agenda.
I am happy to follow the students. Weren’t their presentations wonderful? They are the future.
I would like to thank Commissioner Reed, Deputy Commissioner Ford, and everyone at the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for their dedicated hard work. They are our Commission. They have to think and worry about 1 million people with some kind of hearing loss. With so many – I don’t know how they do it. Please join me in thanking our Commission. [David leads a round of applause].
When I think about the 1 million, I wonder how many audiologists, hearing instrument specialists, and other hearing care professionals we need to help all those people. They need help. How are we going to help them?
‘Community Health Workers’ can help. And I have 400 signatures on a petition supporting the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and their request for resources to research and promote ‘community health workers’ in particular. It was easy getting signatures. People said, “we support the Commission for the Deaf and hard of Hearing. What do they want to do?”
“They want to train deaf and hard of hearing patients to help other deaf and hard of hearing patients.”
Everyone thought this is a brilliant idea and signed our petition. It’s a simple idea. So, what do ‘community health workers’ do? They help connect patients to services and resources they need…if a patient needs a ride to their next audiologist appointment, a ‘community health worker’ can help with that. If a patient is confused about how to apply for health insurance or an insurance claim, a ‘community health worker’ can help with that. If a patient has questions about hearing assistive technology, a ‘community health worker’ can point the person to where they can find the information or provide the general information directly. It’s about the simple stuff that patients need to be successful to improve their quality of life and health. It’s about helping with the small things that make a big difference. And the people support this idea.
According to the US Health and Human Services, there are at least 120,000 ‘community health workers’ working across the country under a great many different job titles…120,000 in areas such as diabetes, oncology, general health, and more – but not in hearing health care. Not in hearing care. It’s impossible to imagine that so many people could be working in this capacity unless ‘community health workers’ are producing value and real benefit to patients. So why not in hearing care? Some people ask why. Bobby Kennedy said, “Some people ask, why, I ask, why not.” So, why not do this in hearing health care. We can do this.
Our Commission is to be congratulated for leadership in promoting research and development of ‘community health workers’ in hearing care. The Commission is leading.
I have over 400 signatures on a petition supporting the Commission’s request for resources to do this. I thank the Commission for leading on this important request. And I thank you for listening to me.
((Applause. MCDHH Commissioner Heidi Reed joined Mr. Bergeron on stage to accept the petition signatures.))
Commissioner Reed said, "The goal of developing Community Health Workers in hearing care is an important and innovative approach to helping deaf and hard of hearing people access available services and treatment.”
Petition in Support of the
Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Request for Funding of Research and Deployment of
specialized hearing care ‘Community Health Workers’
We, the undersigned voters support the patients and family members of the 1 million legally deaf and hard of hearing people in the Commonwealth, and WE urge the Governor and members of the Legislature to support the request of the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to fund research and promotion of specialized hearing care ‘Community Health Workers’ (CHWs). CHWs are proven to help patients achieve better health.
Judi Bergeron (left) and David Bergeron (right) present Commissioner Heidi Reed (center) of the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing with over 400 petition signatures in support of the Commission’s ‘community health worker’ initiative at the Statehouse on April 14, 2015.