York City man receives the gift of better hearing

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

After 30 years, Richard Burdyck was tired of not hearing well. 

That’s how long the York City native and former Marine had been struggling with impaired hearing. 

“After 30 years, I figured it was about time I do something,” Burdyck said. “When I saw an advertisement on Facebook, that's what really got me into it to see what I could do about it.” 

Friday, his ears were opened to a whole new world. 

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Richard Burdyck adjusts one of his hearing aids as Hearing instrument specialist Kathleen Scheydt helps Friday, Jan. 20, 2023. Burdyck, who has had an acute hearing loss for the last 30 years, received free hearing aids through HearingLife's Campaign for Better Hearing.

Burdyck, 64, was fitted with hearing aids for the first time, a gift from HearingLife, a company that offers hearing tests and hearing aids. He was fitted with the devices at the company's York City location. 

He received the free hearing aids through HearingLife’s Campaign for Better Hearing, which gives those who can’t afford the devices an opportunity to get them for free. 

Hearing instrument specialist Kathleen Scheydt, who helped fit Burdyck with his new hearing aids, said HearingLife takes a percentage of the sale of each hearing device and sets aside in a fund to help those who couldn’t ordinarily afford them. 

Burdyck had seen a Facebook ad for a free hearing test, Scheydt said, which got him into her office. After seeing that insurance wasn’t going be able to help with the cost of the hearing aids, which averages between $1,000 to $3,500 per hearing aid, Scheydt looked for a different route to help Burdyck. 

“I nominated him for hearing aids through the Campaign for Better Hearing,” she said. “Because when people don’t have insurance coverage, they still deserve to hear.” 

Last fall, a rule change by the Food and Drug Administration made hearing aids available without a prescription from a specialist. Over-the-counter hearing aids started hitting the market in October at prices that can be thousands of dollars lower than prescription hearing aids.

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About 30 million people in the United States deal with hearing loss, according to the FDA. But only about 20% of those who could use a hearing aid seek help.

Hearing loss came suddenly for Burdyck. He recalled answering the phone one day 30 years ago and not being able to hear anyone on the other end. He realized he couldn’t hear out of his right ear. 

His girlfriend, Betty Wagner, said she is relieved that he can hear clearly. 

“So, I don’t have to holler and take my hearing from me with the music being loud and the TV that the neighbors can hear,” Wagner said. “It will be nice.” 

Scheydt said Burdyck’s hearing loss was quite acute, so his biggest adjustment will be learning how to hear again. Also, Burdyck’s family will have to adjust and learn to speak to him without yelling. 

“They are going to bring your hearing up to where it’s supposed to be so you feel like you are able to hear no matter where you are,” Scheydt told Burdyck. 

When Burdyck first had the hearing aids turned on, everything seemed loud, but everything he heard was clear. 

“Well, how does it feel?” Wagner asked Burdyck after the hearing aids were turned on. 

“Good. I can hear you well,” he said.  

“Good. That’s a blessing,” she said. 

Scheydt showed him how to control the volume through an app on his smartphone. He can adjust the volume depending on where he is or what he is doing, like watching television. Or he can just hit mute, when he doesn't want to hear anything at all. 

After years of not hearing things, Burdyck wants to keep the volume up on his hearing aids as much as possible. 

“I got them, and it’s a great, great feeling,” he said.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.