Hearing the call to help

by Kent Caddick

Rolleston audiologist Brenna Sincock is heading to the Cook Islands, but it will be no holiday as she will be busier than ever in her profession.

Ms Sincock has been invited to be a part of a medical team heading to the small Pacific island nation to help identify and treat hearing problems in the locals, many of whom will never have seen an audiologist before.

She will be part of a team, which includes hearing nurses and ENTs (ear, nose and throat specialists), who fly out early this month and will be based in Rarotonga. She said her invitation came through Scott Wright a former colleague. 

“We have kept in touch and he got in contact with me recently after I started my new audiology business in Rolleston.

“He asked me if I would like to share the workload with him, so he will be going over for the first week and I will cover the second week.”

Brenna said it is something she has never done before and is excited by the challenge.

“From what I have heard from others who have been, it is really full on in terms of the workload. I don’t think I will get a lot of time for sightseeing.

“However, those who have been before said it was an extremely rewarding experience.”

The visit is being partially funded by the Ministry of Health in the Cook Islands, and Ms Sincock could be seeing as many as 60 patients a day.

“People in New Zealand have really good access to hearing services but in the Cook Islands these services aren’t readily available.

“So when there are, people are lining up from 7am in the morning to come and see you. And the ages are right across the board, from the very young to the elderly. The younger ones will be prioritised.”

She expects the types of hearing problems she will encounter in the islands will range from temporary hearing loss to cases that may require surgery and cochlear implants. “The hearing nurses that will be coming too will be dealing with the more temporary problems such as ear infections and wax build-up.

“I will probably being dealing with the more long-term hearing loss cases, and in some cases referring the more serious problems on to the ENTs that are coming too.”

Brenna will be taking most of her own equipment as it is specialised and also helps to preserve the local resources in this field.

One of the other things she will be taking with her is hearing aids. 

“Some of the hearing aid manufacturers in New Zealand have donated hearing aids to us, while clients have also donated old hearing aids when they upgrade. 

“We send those back to the manufacturer to have them refurbished then take them over with us.”

She said they would welcome hearing aid donations from the people of Selwyn, with behind-the-ear hearing aids the ones they prefer.

“The in-ear aids are designed for a specific person but the behind-the-ear aids are easily made to fit somebody else.”

If people want to donate their old hearing aids they can contact Brenna or drop them into her hearing clinic at 36 Tennyson Road, Rolleston.