As a young boy, Kurt Pfaff, Au.D., spent a lot of time at his father’s hearing aid retail store and worked for him in high school. He liked the profession so much, not only did he become the youngest person licensed to dispense hearing aids in the state of Missouri, he also decided to major in audiology when he went to college. Today — as for the past 23 years — he owns Hearing Care Specialists, with locations in Hopkins, Glencoe and Watertown, Minnesota.
Dr. Pfaff’s philosophy on patient care is to get to know his patients as people first, then figure out how to address their hearing loss.
“I really don’t feel one size fits all,” he said. “Every patient has their own story and their own lifestyle. As a professional, I have to inquire about those individual needs to understand how their hearing loss is affecting them. The more I get to know them as a person, the more appropriate recommendation I can make.”
In fact, getting to know his patients is Dr. Pfaff’s favorite part of being a hearing healthcare professional.
“It’s what makes life colorful and interesting,” he said. “One of things I have in the waiting room is a rendering of the war memorial in Washington D.C. We ask everyone who took part in that to sign the poster. You almost can’t see the image anymore from all of the signatures. That opens all avenues of communications — almost like it gives me permission to ask questions and them to feel comfortable sharing.”
One of Dr. Pfaff’s favorite hearing device success stories came from the wife of one of his patients. She said her husband was at home putting lights on the Christmas tree when he suddenly stopped what he was doing and asked, “What’s that noise?” His wife said “You mean the train?” ‘Yes,” he said “When did that start coming by here?”
Other stories include Dr. Pfaff’s aunt, who stopped to hear the leaves rustle in the wind one day not long after he fit her with hearing aids, and a Boy Scout leader who could finally hear the birds singing again at the campground.
“Audiologists are problem solvers,” Dr. Pfaff said, adding that he’s an expert in difficult-to-fit cases. “Our skill is being able to identify the problem, figure out where the patient’s mindset is and then educate and guide patients into understanding their hearing will never be normal again, but they can have a normal lifestyle.”
“The switch from analog to digital has changed our world,” he added. “Now we have a better understanding of how the brain works with respect to hearing and hearing loss. It’s not just the hearing aid that makes the difference, it’s how it works in conjunction with our natural abilities.”
Dr. Pfaff describes Hearing Care Specialists as a friendly, professional and competent hearing center where people have confidence the minute they walk in the door.
“It’s wonderful to make a change in people’s lives,” he said. “If we get the opportunity to meet a patient, it’s typically the start of a long-lasting relationship.”