Citrus Hearing Clinic hosted an open house to celebrate its grand opening. Members of the South Lake Chamber of Commerce officiated at the ribbon cutting to welcome Dr. Laura Pratesi, founder of the clinic, into the business community. Those attending received a tour of the brightly citrus-colored offices and were shown the high-tech equipment.
Dr. Pratesi was born with unilateral hearing loss and believes although you don’t need to have a hearing loss to be a good audiologist, her hearing loss allows her to connect with her patients on a personal level. She knows the burden of growing up with hearing impairment and the value of good hearing. She loves giving parents of children with hearing loss the hope that their child can live a fulfilled and happy life.
I met with the vivacious young doctor, born and raised in Georgia. She attended Auburn University and was the youngest person to graduate from the Auburn University’s Doctor of Audiology program. I asked her to elaborate on her inspirational story.
TABLET: I read that you were fit with your first hearing aid while in college. After realizing how much you were missing, you changed your major from theater to audiology. Can you elaborate?
Dr. Pratesi: There were no schools for Audiology in the state of Georgia. I attended Auburn University for my Bachelor of Science (class of 2008) and my Doctor of Audiology (class of 2012) degrees. I did clinical rotations through Fort Benning and the Montgomery VA, then did my residency at Columbus Speech and Hearing Center in Columbus GA. After graduation, I worked for the largest ENT practice in the state of Georgia. When we moved to Clermont, four years ago, I started working at a practice in The Villages.
TABLET: Why did you decide to set up your practice in Clermont?
Dr. Pratesi: This is where my family lives and socializes. One of the things I missed about the small Georgia town where we lived was seeing my patients in the grocery store and at church. I wanted to make a difference in the community that I lived and socialized in. I also realized that the closest pediatric practice was in downtown Orlando. Families had to drive an hour away for care. That is a huge issue for compliance and follow up rates which can impact patient success. Why was I commuting an hour north every day when I could work four miles from home? There was also a HUGE price difference in services rendered at the hospital vs. at a small private practice. I wanted access to hearing and balance healthcare to be more affordable to patients.
TABLET: Is there anything you’d like to share with us about Citrus Hearing Clinic?
Dr. Pratesi: I approach treatment in a way that takes into account the whole patient: their wellness, their lifestyle and listening needs. Your body is a finely tuned precision instrument, and if one system isn’t working right, it can start to affect the other systems as well. I don’t think you have to have hearing loss to be a good audiologist, but I think having hearing loss has made me a better one. I can understand what my patients are going through because I’ve been there myself. I view my number one job as patient education: making sure they are making the best, most well-informed decisions about their hearing health are possible.
Citrus Hearing Clinic, located at 835 7thStreet, Suite 2, Clermont, is a full-service audiology practice specializing in aural rehabilitation, balance therapy, pediatric testing, and patient education. It provides tinnitus assessments, custom hearing protection (digital available), in-ear monitors for musicians, swim plugs, comprehensive hearing evaluations, hearing screenings, pediatric evaluations, balance assessments (such as Hallpike and Epley maneuvers), etc.