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Kathy’s Sense of Hearing is Vital to Her Life

by UPMC Susquehanna

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Kathy Keiper lives at a retirement village in Northumberland but is a very busy woman. She spends her days volunteering at the Sunbury YMCA, reading books to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients at ManorCare nursing home and Brookdale Grayson View senior living facility, and spending time with friends. The difference is, Kathy relies on her sense of hearing more than most people to do all of these things—she is blind. So when she started to have issues with her ears and hearing, she wanted to make sure she got the best care—quickly.

Dr. Rager and Kathy Keiper
Dr. Jennifer Rager-Kay and Kathy Keiper

“When you are blind, you rely on your hearing to be able to ascertain your surroundings,” says Kathy. “I felt like I had cotton balls in my ears and I could tell it was affecting my balance—I couldn’t walk in a straight line.”

Finding the Right Care

Kathy had been treated for an ear infection by her primary care doctor, but she wasn’t getting any relief. She then sought care at a local urgent care center and still no relief. That is when she decided to make an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat specialist, or an otolaryngologist.

“My primary care doctor referred me out of the area but I couldn’t get an appointment for almost eight weeks, and I just couldn’t keep functioning with my hearing and balance issues,” says Kathy. “So then she referred me to Dr. Rager in Sunbury.”

Jennifer Rager-Kay, DO, is an otolaryngologist at UPMC Susquehanna’s Community Care ENT in Sunbury. Kathy was able to get an appointment quickly, in fact, they scheduled her for a hearing test immediately before her appointment with Dr. Rager—on the same day.

Care with Compassion

Kathy talks about her experience, “I am 66 years young, but the hearing test showed that my hearing was very good and that I had insignificant nerve loss or damage. This was all good news because it meant they could help me and I wouldn’t lose my hearing.”

Dr. Rager found Kathy had some fluid behind her eardrum and ear wax that needed to be removed. After some ear drop treatments, Kathy is feeling much better. If the fluid behind her eardrums returns, she could need ear tubes in the future.

“Although my treatment ended up being simple, I was worried. I had never been to an ear, nose, and throat doctor,” says Kathy. “I can’t say enough about the UPMC Sunbury office. Dr. Rager, and her staff were all so kind and courteous. They explained everything—every step of the way. It was also helpful that they are right here in Sunbury because I rely on my friends and public transportation to get me to appointments.”