Hearing center’s traditions blending with technology

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Hearing center’s traditions blending with technology

October 16, 2017 - 22:26

Homewood Hearing Center has been a fixture in Homewood for more than 50 years and continues to treat patients with an experienced staff and modern techniques and tools.

  Charles Amenta

This fall Dr. Charles Amenta, an otolaryngologist (ENT) and Sheri Larks, a board certified audiologist, celebrate 20 years of working together in the practice. Both take the approach of providing individualized care to patients.

An aficionado of classical music, Amenta initially had hoped to go into a musical field.

“When I decided that a love of music was not going get me a musical career, I went into otolaryngology,” he said. “I was good at science. My father was a dentist, my mother a nurse. One uncle was a physician and another was a hospital administrator, so I went into a medical field that had a lot to do with music. We experience music through our sense of hearing.”

  Sheri Larks

As an ENT, he also deals with other issues, including sinuses, tonsils and almost all other aspects of the head and neck with the exception of the eyes, spine, carotid arteries and brain.

For Larks, it was a medical history of frequent ear infections, ear surgery and early hearing loss that inspired her career choice. While she originally wanted to be a speech pathologist, she changed her mind when she learned more about what audiologists do. 

In the field for three decades, she tests and fits hearing aids, helps patients with communication strategies and counsels them on the best ways to help them with their hearing. Sometimes that means trying out other devices first, like amplified telephones or television devices.

“Homewood Hearing Center is special because it has the services of a physician and an audiologist to cover all aspects of hearing loss as well as hearing health involving medical conditions,” Amenta said.

Larks and Amenta are local residents and enjoy being part of the H-F community.

Larks is a lifelong Homewood resident. Amenta, a transplant from the northern suburbs, has lived in Flossmoor for many years.

Amenta is also proud of the long history of the practice and said that he still takes care of patients who had ear surgery as children. He took over from Dr. Robert Borkenhagen, who started the practice in the 1960s.

And while there’s that tradition of a long-lasting well-established practice, Homewood Hearing Center has changed with the times as far as having updated, digitized patient record systems, offering devices that can be operated via smart phone apps and being one of the few locations in the Midwest to perform thermal fusion tonsillectomy.

Both Amenta and Larks are passionate about their jobs and their desire to help patients improve their quality of life.

“I get to come to work every day and do something that I absolutely love. I love helping people hear and communicate better,” Larks said.

Amenta said he believes physicians “are very blessed with the privilege of caring for people.”

“You get to help them and they are very thankful,” he said. “Sometimes things are very frustrating and they still appreciate your effort.”

When it comes to hearing, Amenta emphasizes the importance of protecting hearing from loud sounds like overly amplified music or industrial and machine noise and also being conscious that other good health practices are good for your ears as well, such as monitoring and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, not smoking and getting exercise.

He also notes that while hearing aid technology is improving and aids do help, they do not completely reverse the loss. With improvements in treatment options and the advantage of technology that has made devices more accessible and effective, there’s no reason to suffer with hearing and communication problems, Amenta said.

Amenta’s love of music affected his career choice and is still something that plays a huge role in his life. He has been on the boards of directors of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra for 15 years and the Suburban Youth Symphony Orchestra for even longer. He hopes to help bring a fine chamber-music series to the South Suburbs in the near future.