Lost and Found
The practitioners of Ear, Nose & Throat Associates of Chester County and their audiology practice, Advanced Hearin
by Phil Gianficaro

As a patient shares her story with a practitioner at Advanced Hearing Solutions (AHS), the emotions come out in torrents: frustration, anxiety, confusion and, the most debilitating of them all, fear of the unknown. Hearing loss has altered her life, she explains, and she just wants to regain everything she has lost—her hearing and so much more. She quickly learns she has come to the right place.

At AHS, each patient feels confident that the doctor is listening, not only to accurately diagnose the problem that contributed to the condition, but also to empathize and truly understand the far-reaching effects of hearing loss.

“I’ve had hearing loss since I was a child,” says Samantha Reavell, Au.D., FAAA, an audiologist for six years with ENTACC. “I was fitted with my first hearing aid at age 12 after a series of ear surgeries. Over time, I lost all hearing on my right side, and some on my left side. So when a patient talks about their hearing loss and tells me about their concerns, I fully understand what they’re going through because I’ve gone through it.”

Adds Michael Picariello, M.D., FACS, an otolaryngologist with ENTACC now in his 26th year of practice:  “Hearing Dr. Reavell’s story about her hearing loss makes the patient understand she knows what they’re dealing with. That makes the barriers of entry much easier. She’s a statement of courage related to a life depending on hearing aids.”

Dr. Reavell is one of three audiologists at AHS with hearing issues, each with an intimate understanding of the importance of early intervention of hearing loss. Truly, ENTACC and AHS’s doctors and support team offer the highest quality of care, empathetic to patients’ specific needs and trained in the most up-to-date technologies, techniques and tools to diagnose and treat hearing loss. 

“They also understand the challenges and obstacles and some reasons why patients may put off treatment,” says Deanna DiMascio, practice administrator at ENTACC. “As more and more research shows delaying treatment for hearing loss has serious consequences, having the right health care partner to help navigate through the journey is very important.” 

For 43 years, ENTACC physicians have been caring for adults with ENT disorders, from comprehensive evaluation to treatment, for afflictions including thyroid problems, reflux, sinusitis and cancers of the head and neck. The practice’s Allergy Center offers testing for all types of allergens, as well as multiple treatment options including sublingual immunotherapy. ENTACC’s Voice and Swallowing Center (and an in-office Sinus Center) provides patients with specialized testing and treatment therapies. The doctors offer testing and treatment options for all sleep disorders, including snoring and sleep apnea.

AHS also offers comprehensive treatment for bothersome tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and sound sensitivity issues. The staff has been trained in the most current treatment protocols for tinnitus, and patients have experienced significant relief from the negative effects it causes them.

No matter what ENT malady a patient experiences, ENTACC can provide treatment that is often noninvasive and offers faster healing time, all leading to greater patient comfort.

Approximately 15 percent of American adults, ages 18 and older—approximately 37.5 million people—report some hearing trouble, be it conductive and sensorineural. Conductive hearing loss is caused by any condition or disease that impedes the conveyance of sound in its mechanical form through the middle ear cavity to the inner ear; the problems could be due to ear wax or fluid buildup or a hole in the eardrum. Sensorineural hearing loss results from inner ear or auditory nerve dysfunction from factors such as noise exposure, aging and viral infections. The sensory component may be from damage to the organ of Corti or an inability of the loss of hair cells to stimulate the nerves of hearing or a metabolic problem in the fluids of the inner ear.

The medical doctors and audiologists who work in tandem at ENTACC are skilled at addressing both types of hearing loss.

“When a patient shows up with hearing loss, we record a careful and complete history and perform a full ENT exam to rule out any treatable medical problems that may cause the hearing loss,” says Dr. Picariello. “Once the medical issue is cleared up, we carefully look at diagnostic aspects of hearing loss. This is when the audiologists perform testing … to see if the patient’s hearing loss is significant and requires help with amplification.”

Dr. Picariello, a graduate of Harvard University and the Medical College of Pennsylvania, is a trained scholar of the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery and chief of ENT services at Chester County Hospital. His particular clinical interests consist of nasal and sinus diseases and sinus surgery, including in-office balloon sinuplasty, thyroid and parathyroid surgery, chronic ear diseases and laryngeal and voice disorders.

“Just as people see an eye doctor for their eyes and renew their prescriptions often, we should look to the ears as a special sense that enables people to have a better quality of life,” he says. “All the statistics point out that hearing loss impacts lives. People with hearing loss become more isolated. Depression often ensues, and there are anxiety factors that accompany hearing loss. There are higher incidences of dementia, five times more likely in senior citizens with untreated hearing loss.”

Despite the technical improvements in the appearance and function of hearing aids, many experiencing hearing loss tend to resist using them. Dr. Reavell and her colleagues impress upon patients the tremendous benefits of using hearing aids, many of which are nearly undetectable to the eye.

“Hearing aids have become so advanced,” she says. “People walk around with eyeglasses and no one thinks anything of it. Hearing aids shouldn’t be any different. I also think that it’s about a patient finding the right people to guide them through it. We are the right people.”

Dr. Reavell emphasizes the staff at ENTACC views hearing care as health care.

“We have six audiologists here with a combined 26 years of experience,” she says. “We will take time with the patient, follow up with them, not just sell them a hearing aid and send them out the door.”

So, why should a person experiencing hearing loss choose the board-certified and trained staff at ENTACC?

“We do all our diagnostic testing on site,” says Dr. Picariello. “We address all aspects of ear health and hearing loss—the full gamut—by reviewing appropriate diagnostic testing and hearing rehabilitation. We want to do what is best to restore patients’ quality of life to enhance the life the patient desires to lead.”

In other words, the skilled care ENTACC and AHS affords to each patient can have a profound and life-altering impact. Adds Dr. Reavell, who knows better than most: “When I can affect someone’s quality of life in a positive way, to see the look on a patient’s face, it’s an incredible feeling.”
Ear, Nose & Throat Associates of Chester County

111 Arrandale Blvd.
Exton, PA 19341
600 E. Marshall Street
West Chester, PA 19380
402 McFarlan Road
Kennett Square, PA 19348

Photograph by Jody Robinson