The Northwestern Health Unit has a new audiologist under its roof, and she wants everyone to hear her loud and clear that she plans to put roots down firmly in her job here.
Brenda Tullio, 27, replaces outgoing audiologist Jeff Naka, who moved to Thunder Bay.
A native of Timmins, Tullio comes to Fort Frances with a Master’s degree in Clinical Science in Audiology, which required seven years of university study in southern Ontario.
And she’s hoping to make a positive addition to the region’s health care system.
“I saw the job posting for here and I knew about the lack of health care services in this part of province,” she said from her office late last week.
“I hope to do my part to [improve] it.”
Tullio came to Fort Frances with her husband, Mike, a professional hairstylist now employed at Tracy’s Hair Studio.
Tullio, who started July 14 at the health unit, said one of the most important messages she had for people was an answer to a question posed to her several times since she began working here.
“People say, ‘Gee, are you gonna stay?’ I am committed to staying here,” she stressed.
As sole audiologist, her job includes non-medical diagnostic evaluation of hearing, prescription of hearing aids, the provision of rehabilitation for people with hearing loss (including strategies to help compensate deafness), and public education on hearing conservation.
Also included on the job description is advocacy for the hearing impaired and their families.
One of the more interesting tests used to help detect the source of hearing loss is a non-invasive technique known as “auditory brain stem response.”
This involves using electrodes which monitor the pathway from the inner ear to the brain stem to see if it is intact.
Computerized auditory waves are measured to ensure no problems, such as a tumor, are preventing hearing signals from reaching the brain.
Besides taking public appointments at the health unit, Tullio also will make monthly trips to Atikokan and Rainy River in order to provide easier access to hearing clinics for district residents.
While Tullio is now a full-fledged audiologist, it was not the career path she had originally chosen.
“I started out in business administration and then a very close friend of my sister’s was in an accident, which resulted in extensive head injuries and he lost the ability for speaking,” she said.
“I became very interested in his [rehab] and found audiology,” she added, noting rehabilitation as it pertains to hearing has remained a keen interest.
And when it comes to the major causes of hearing loss in today’s society, Tullio said the biggest culprit is simply too much noise.
“A very large majority of hearing loss comes from exposure to a noisy environment,” she explained, adding that Walkmans are a concern because of their high concentration of sound in the ears.
“Loud music and noisy hobbies like hunting [contribute],” she added.
Tullio said if you can feel the vibrations in your body from loud music, that’s a warning signal that your ears are probably channelling more noise than they can handle safely.