- Published on 13 May 2020
The Starkey Foundation's bountiful worldwide operations that take hearing aids to needy populations in some 100 countries have been grounded "due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions and the inability to gather in large groups".
Starkey has dolefully announced the suspension of its programmes worldwide and in the USA, including the “Summer Sounds” annual benefit, scheduled for July. As long as travel and gatherings restrictions have effect, the Eden Prairie-based hearing aid giant will be left without the marketing and motivational benefits from the huge philanthropic feelgood part of its image; but more importantly, vulnerable persons with hearing loss will go without the treatment and free devices brought by Starkey Foundation missions since 1984. Many of its missions involve the firm's top executives, and constantly attending projects are founder and CEO William Austin and his wife Tani Austin, Starkey's Chief Philanthropy Officer.
Suspending international trips means local partners and health workers in many developing countries will not be receiving the Starkey training that helps them care for the patients they serve. Affected too will be the firm's partnerships with universities, and the help offered to governments and public health officials to create their own country-specific national hearing health plans.
“This was a very difficult decision, but after considering the challenges currently in place, we felt this was the most responsible decision for the organisation and the safety of everyone involved in our work,” said Foundation President and Board Chair Richard Brown.
“While hearing healthcare is essential and hearing aids are being fit safely by professionals in the United States, travel difficulties, bans on large gatherings and other precautions being taken by countries all over the world to combat COVID-19 have made it difficult to do our work safely,” Brown added.