When “Roger Hot Sauce” went down, five-year-old Hailey Tran, her mom Phung Pham and dad Vu Tran were worried. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI) of Salus University had “Roger Donut” available and ready to step in.

Hailey was born with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, a type of hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear or sensory organ – the cochlea and associated structures – or the vestibulocochlear nerve. It is generally permanent and can be mild, moderate, severe, profound or total.

Because of that, Hailey has been wearing hearing aids since she was four months old. . And, when she started school, her teachers were able to communicate directly with her through an FM transmitter – brand name Roger – directly connected to Hailey’s hearing aids.

But sometimes the technology breaks down or gets worn out. And, when Roger Hot Sauce – Hailey likes to treat the devices as a person and give them a name – went on the fritz with a broken lanyard, her mother wasn’t sure where to turn.

“It’s a very sensitive time for my daughter. She’s absorbing everything and I don’t want her to go a day without her hearing aids,” said Phung. “Especially when she’s in school.”Hailey and Hearing Aid Roger

PEI has been Hailey’s durable goods provider for the past couple of years. Phung contacted Lindsay Bondurant, PhD, PEI director. According to Dr. Bondurant, any child who is an established patient at PEI who has a gap in their amplification system – due to equipment being sent out for repairs, delays in insurance approval for new orders or for equipment that has been lost – is eligible for loaner devices through PEI.

“This allows children with hearing loss to have continuous, full-time access to amplification, which is critical for language learning in addition to social and academic success,” said Dr. Bondurant.

PEI had the replacement FM system – which Hailey promptly named Roger Donut. She was due for a new transmitter anyway, and the loaner Roger Donut, whose regular gig at PEI is as a training device used in class by Rebecca Blaha, AuD, assistant professor in the University’s Osborne College of Audiology, would be pressed into service for a good three weeks before Hailey’s new device arrived, which at this point doesn’t yet have a name.

“Hailey is what I like to call a ‘super user’ of hearing aids and FM systems. She’s incredibly consistent about wearing her hearing aids full time – she loves them – and her family and school have been fully onboard with the use of the FM system as well,” said Dr. Bondurant. “We’ve been fortunate to provide Hailey with loaners when her devices have been sent out for repair, so that she can maintain full-time use and stay connected with the world around her.”

Currently, PEI has six loaner hearing aids available. A portion of the funds raised from the University’s 13th annual “Looking Out for Kids” (LOFK) charity fundraiser – this year scheduled for Nov. 2 at the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue - will increase that number to an additional 10 loaner hearing aids and two FM transmitters specific to pediatrics.

Any family who thinks their child might be in need of loaner hearing aids or transmitters can contact PEI for an appointment with one of the Institute’s pediatric audiologists to discuss the child’s individual needs.

“This devotion to consistent auditory access has helped Hailey blossom into the bright, talkative, funny young lady that she is,” said Dr. Bondurant. “We love her at PEI. Our students get such a kick out of seeing how spunky she is, and I love that they’re getting an opportunity to work with a family who is fully committed to their child’s success with hearing aids.”

And, that love comes right back from Hailey’s family.

“Dr. Bondurant is just so great and Hailey loves her. And, the fact that they’re always so accommodating at PEI, they have loaners readily available, I can’t say enough about that,” said Phung. “I’m PEI’s No. 1 supporter. It’s been such a great experience. They’ve done so much for Hailey that words can’t express my gratitude.”