Re: Issue With The Denver VA

Jim Rau

Thanks Karl. I’ve already done that-Twice. 

On Aug 23, 2021, at 9:28 PM, dwisott <dwisott@...> wrote:

Jim, some more good ideas…much appreciated.

In addition to trying to hear in a restaurant, I’ve tried putting my phone (connected to my hearing aids) on the table, but there is so much ambient noise that what I hear is mostly just more noise.  When I went to the VA last week to meet with the manager of audiology he wanted to give me a few microphones that he suggested I pass around to those I’m dining with, but the thought of making my friends have to speak into a mike makes me most uncomfortable.  I’ve also been teaching classes through OLLI (lifelong learning program) at Denver University and having people have to pass around a mike would be way too time consuming.  I may not have any other choice, but I first want to try to find hearing aids that are designed to work in noise before I resort to handing out microphones.


On Aug 23, 2021, at 7:53 PM, Jim Rau <jimrau@...> wrote:

Dick, I’m learning more about my new Phonaks every day. Today on a call with Phonak I learned that I could change some settings on my phone which helped the stability of the hearing aids. But they still do some strange things. I’m sure I’ll have  to go back to the audiologist at some point soon. 

Karl has some very good points. I had some good success after contacting my US Senator to intervene in my behalf. And don’t hesitate to request a different audiologist. Some are better than others. The one Big Thing I’ve learned about VA (especially audiology) is that you have to be your own advocate. Inform yourself. Tell them what you need and let them figure out how to deliver that. You can call your VA Advocate. Look for the number on the VBA web site (NOT the VA web site). Document everything. VA will change their answers from time to time as well as giving ambiguous answers. Ask them if you are a candidate for a CI. CIs have a much better success rate than they used to have. 

You might try the Phonaks from a private audiogost and you shouldn’t have to pay for them if you return them during the trial period. If you don’t/won’t use all the connectivity that Phonak offers it is useless to you. Get something you like and that you can work with comfortably. 

OH and I can tell you that your Oticon OPns will work with the Phonak Roger system. They don’t connect wirelessly so you have to use a neck loop. But the Roger microphone is very good. Just put the mic on a table in a restaurant table and connect to the mic with a neck loop and use you t-coios (your hearing aids must have t-coils)  Your audiologist can explain all that. 

Jim Rau
President HLAA WI Association

On Aug 23, 2021, at 7:36 PM, Karl Hallsten <karl@...> wrote:

I am Karl Hallsten--100% service connected for hearing loss Vet--currently bi=lateral CI---It's six plus years since I had a Phonak Naida in my left ear.
I had preferred the Oticon sound--but I needed the help of the Phonak FM system which I was the first one issued in the VA back in 2000.--I was part of a research project at the Bay Pines VA which was testing the FM system as a means of delaying or avoiding a CI--at that time I was borderline for a CI--but was not really fully evaluated.  The FM system worked for me and I was even issued a new model when it became available.  In addition to being an HLAA member and on the Vets Across America, I am president of the Adult Loss of Hearing Assn--ALOHA here in Southern AZ.  We have virtual meetings every week and your welcome to join in--
I am so sorry to hear of your issues.
My recommendations:
1. Don't take the tack of newer technologies--focus on you can't hear and what situations you can't hear in.  Let the audi--be the expert on equipment--you on whether it works.
Persist that they provide you a pair that work.--As far as I know the policy to provide you with a functional back-up pair is still in effect.  
2.  Ask to have a different audi---this is a formal request. I did this for a primary care provider--and it worked.
3.  It sounds to me that HA are not enough for you--especially in noisy situations.  The Roger system might be an option. (I suspect that no one has told you that the best HA and CI have a highly effective range of 6 feet. After that the speech to noise ratio is in the pits--even sooner in noisy situations. How far can you be from the mic and have it pic up)
4.  Yes, get a rep and file complaint---focus on HA working for you--not brand---document where you can't hear and where you can. What settings and adjustments--impact?
5.  And the standard VA rule--if denied, reapply.  Repeat dosage as needed for results.
6.  Use your congressional rep if it gets bogged down.--(I think you're there now!) They like doing Vets.  
Again: stay focused on the goal--hearing--not the brand or equipment.  Let it be said--"He persisted."   Please keep us informed as it helps us help others.  
Thanks for your service--Karl   

-----Original Message-----
From: HLAAVeterans@... <HLAAVeterans@...> On Behalf Of Jim Rau via
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2021 1:51 PM
To: HLAAVeterans@...
Subject: Re: [HLAAVeterans] Issue With The Denver VA

Hi Dick, Welcome to the site. Glad you found it. 

I also have a service connected hearing loss from Viet Nam.  Like you I struggle to understand speech in noisy situations. I have received my audiology care from VA for many years. At first I was told I could get new hearing aids every 3 years and most recently every 4 years. 

My most recent hearing aid replacement began in February when I qualified for new hearing aids. I had been using Oticon OPn. The audiologist tested my hearing and prescribed new Oticon More (which would become available on VA contract in May. By the time the hearing aids came in late may that audiologist had moved to a different position in VA. The audiologist who set up my Otidon Mores said she thought I’d do better with the Phonak Paradise so she ordered them but did fit me with to. Oticon Mores which I wore for 3 months while waiting for the Phonaks. Two weeks ago she fit me with the Phonak Paradise which seem to work a bit better than the Oticons but I have issues. While they do sound a bit better and connect wirelessly to more things than the Oticons they are harder to use. By that I mean they don’t work as seamlessly as the Oticons. The Phone app that controls the Phonaks is terrible. It drops connections and changes programs randomly. I found out from Phonak that the Paradise hearing aide provided to VA do not have the latest firmware and VA won’t have that firmware until about November. So I went to a private audiology clinic and got them updated with the new firmware. They still remain unstable. Outgoing phone calls connect the Phonaks, but incoming calls go to the phone audio and I have to switch it over manually. 

I was anxious to get the Phonak Paradise but I’m considering going back to the Oticons because they work seamlessly. Today,for instance, my Phonaks changed programs about 6 or 8 times by themselves. I changed them back manually to the correct program each time. The mute button mutes the Phonaks only momentarily. I sometimes want to mute them and just listen to music without the hearing aid microphones on. The Phonaks have more automatic features which is great but they don’t work as they are supposed to. I’m communicating with Phonak and the private audiologists to remedy the instability issues. Bottom line is I’m still undecided which ones I’ll keep. I know I’ll have them for at least 4 years. 

For you, I think VA’s position is that they will not replace your hearing aids as long as they are working just to get the latest technology. Every time Ihave received new hearing aids my anticipation was much higher than the improvement. The way the audiologist sets them up is more important in my opinion. And if I were you I wouldn’t want the Phonak Paradise from VA until after they get the new firmware (November???)

Jim Rau
President HLAA WI Association

On Aug 23, 2021, at 3:11 PM, dwisott <dwisott@...> wrote:

I just today discovered this site and am posting here to get your input and suggestions.

The Denver VA has provided me with hearing aids for several decades and generally updated my hearing aids about every 3 years or so as new technology emerged.  My hearing in both ears was damaged while firing a bazooka in basic training in 1956 (no ear protection was provided back then).  It was only when I reached retirement age that I needed hearing aids and have gotten increasingly worse as I reached my late 80’s.

I currently cannot hear much in noisy situations, like in restaurants and also in the classes I take and also teach at Denver University.  And my wife is constantly complaining that I miss much with my daily interactions with her and our friends and family.  An audiologist at the University of Colorado Hospital that I consulted with, strongly recommends that I try the new hearing aids called "Phonak Audeo Paradise 90”, which are recommended for those with severe hearing loss (which is what I have at some levels).  The website “Senior Living. org” also considers the Phonak aids the best for my hearing loss.

The Denver VA has denied me even trying the Phonak aids claiming that since my current Oticon aids are just 3 years old I need to wait for at least 2 more years.  The head of VA audiology in Denver sent me a message which included these statements:  “The VA strives to provide the best products and best service possible.  We are not able to provide new hearing aids because new technology becomes available.”

I find that last statement to be totally outrageous and told them so.  If technology has improved significantly, which would markedly benefit our veterans lives, how can they deny making them available to veterans like you and me?

I am considering going out and buying a pair of hearing aids (cost around $5,000) since I likely don’t have that many years left as I approach my nineties.  But I am appalled that the VA is so rigid and uncaring.

So what do you think about this and what do you advise me to do?


Dick Wisott
Email:  dwisott@...

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