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Oaklawn, CareWell partner to bolster access to audiology services in Albion area

ALBION — With better hearing as the goal, a new partnership between Oaklawn and CareWell Services Southwest aims to make it easier for Calhoun County residents 60 and over to receive audiology services.

“CareWell Services is excited to be working on yet another partnership with Oaklawn,” said Paulette Porter, CareWell’s program manager for special initiatives. 

“Expanding the service providers for the HearWell program is intended to help qualifying seniors who have limited transportation access and who live in or near Calhoun County’s easternmost communities,” she said. 

The service – which provides free hearing exams as well as hearing aids – is made possible by a grant from Calhoun County Senior Services using funds from the county’s senior millage. Seniors who meet age, residence and income qualifications have been receiving audiology services at a Battle Creek site through the HearWell program. 

“As the area agency on aging for Calhoun County, CareWell Services tracks where our services are delivered to make sure we’re covering the county as best we can,” Porter said. “We found that there were pockets on the east side of the county where we need to concentrate our efforts more in delivering our services and programs. So, we’re making a concerted effort to reach out to those areas to better serve our seniors.”

Residents seeking assistance are asked to call CareWell Services at either (269) 441-0930 or toll-free at (800) 626-6719 to begin the eligibility screening process. The Albion Health Care Alliance also is assisting the effort and may be contacted at (517) 629-5080. 

Services continue to be provided despite the COVID-19 pandemic, as the program is considered an essential health-care service. Once the pandemic ends, pre-screening again will be available at the Forks Senior Center in Albion; the Heritage Commons Senior Enrichment Center and the Fountain Clinic, both in Marshall; and Grace Health and CareWell Services at the Kool Family Center, both in Battle Creek. 

Applicants should be prepared to provide proof of age, income, and Calhoun County residency. Participants must not have insurance coverage for hearing aids. The agreement between CareWell Services and Oaklawn ensures privacy and confidentiality of protected health information for each participant. 

Qualifying participants can expect to receive services on the first Thursday of the scheduled month at the Oaklawn Audiology offices in the Cram Building at 115 Market Place, Albion, Porter said. 

Michael A. Thompson and Steven J. Malocha, who are certified audiologists with longstanding careers in southern lower Michigan, comprise the medical team that will work with participants. They come from Oaklawn Medical Group – Ear, Nose & Throat, based at the Wright Medical Building in Marshall, according to Michele Mead, the clinic’s site manager.

“CareWell Services and Oaklawn have had an ongoing collaboration to reduce re-hospitalizations and improve health outcomes for seniors with chronic conditions,” said Karla Fales, CareWell Services’ CEO.

“Having had this longstanding, strong relationship with Oaklawn, they were the most obvious and strongest partner to help us expand the program and improve our customer service,” Fales added. “It seemed the most logical partnership.” 

CareWell Services last year became the provider for the HearWell program, as well as the SeeWell vision programs, taking over a program previously provided by the Calhoun County Public Health Department.  

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