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Victoria audiologist offers auditory assistance to Crossroads residents

By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
Sept. 3, 2011 at 4:03 a.m.

Clay Green, owner of Gulf Coast Audiology, prepares to examine a patient.

Things are quiet inside the brick building just off Main Street. With its staff of two and insulated walls, it's only conversations, phone calls and occasional traffic sounds that stir things up inside.

And that's unusual, considering the business focuses on helping people take in the noises around them.

Clay Green opened Gulf Coast Audiology in May 2010 at 4203 N. Main St. as a way to help Crossroads residents with hearing issues.

"It's rewarding, being able to see that look on someone's face," he said. "You know you're helping people be able to hear again. It means a lot."

The Ganado native earned his bachelor's degree in speech pathology from Stephen F. Austin State University and moved on to Beaumont's Lamar University, where he obtained a master's degree in audiology.

He has been an audiologist since 2000.

Green, 38, began his career working for a Victoria company and later worked for several years with a company in San Antonio. When their son Luke was 3, Green and his wife, Jenny, decided it was time to return home.

Time and energy went into the budding entrepreneurship, Green said, explaining the building construction was what took the longest.

Six to eight months after planning began, he was in business.

Victoria is home to just two audiology offices, and Gulf Coast is the only private practice, Green said. Other businesses can fit people for hearing aids and sell products, but the training is different, he said, explaining audiologists must have a minimum of a master's degree in audiology.

There is room for both audiology offices in Victoria, since they serve many people throughout the region, said Dean Flyger, doctor of audiology for the Victoria ENT Hearing Center.

"The more licensed providers, the better," he said, noting ENT has four licensed audiologists.

Audiologists don't focus solely on hearing rehabilitation, he said, noting balance issues, ringing in the ears and other areas also come into play.

Green said he focuses on customer service to stand apart from others.

He doesn't charge for follow-up care, and he makes sure customers both understand their hearing aids and have everything they need. One patient, for instance, visits every other week to get his hearing aids cleaned, free of charge.

"The purchase of the hearing aid is the easy part," Green said. "It's the follow-up care that makes the difference."

Danny Hanselman has been Green's patient about a year and said he appreciates the work the staff puts into the exams.

"I didn't think I needed hearing aids until I found out that I did," said Hanselman, a Victoria business owner. "But they did the test, told me what the problems were and said, 'Let's fix this.'"

Hearing aids often cost less than people think, Green said, explaining the consultation is inexpensive but the main cost comes from purchasing the devices themselves. It varies, however, due to people's needs and the hardware.

Green's world doesn't revolve solely around his business, however.

Away from the exam rooms, he keeps busy hunting and fishing, activities he's loved since childhood, and is active in Ganado's Catholic community. He makes time to play with Luke whenever possible.

"He's 4-and-a-half," he said with a small laugh. "And he keeps us busy. He'll wear you out."

All in all, Green said he's proud of the business he developed and the work he does. He encouraged people with hearing issues to see an audiologist right away.

"Don't wait," he said. "If there's a problem, the sooner you fix it, the better."

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