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Pennsylvania Ear Institute Celebrates 19 Years of Growth

This month, the Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI) celebrates its 19th anniversary. 

PEI opened on Nov. 19, 2004 to serve as the main clinical facility for Salus University Doctor of Audiology (AuD) students, and since then has grown in patients, faculty, students, and physical space to provide comprehensive care for hearing and balance issues. Cutting the ribbon at PEI's opening in 2004

“It's grown tremendously; we’ve gone from being not very busy at all to being incredibly busy. We have very robust specialty clinics in pediatrics, vestibular or balance testing, auditory processing, tinnitus management and areas that a lot of University’s audiology clinics don’t always provide,” says Lindsay Bondurant, PhD, CCC-A, who has served as director of PEI since 2016.

Dr. Bondurant has overseen much of the clinical facility's recent growth, reflecting on the many ways in which it has expanded to achieve its goals of helping both patients and students. 

“We just had our busiest October that we’ve ever had in the history of PEI,” she said. According to Dr. Bondurant patient numbers have increased 70 percent since 2016, and the number of staff audiologists has grown from four to seven over that time. 

Dr. Blaha working with a patientPEI has expanded some of its specialty areas in particular in recent years including its cochlear implant program, which has grown its patient base significantly under the direction of lead audiologist Rebecca Blaha, AuD. The school hearing screening program has also expanded since its creation in 2017. Supervised by Dr. Bondurant and other pediatric audiologists, the program now screens more than 2,000 children every year at schools mostly in North and Northeast Philadelphia. 

“It's been a really good opportunity for the students,” says Dr. Bondurant. PEI is special not only because of the range of audiology care it provides patients, but also because of the example  it sets for the University’s Osborne College of Audiology’s soon-to-be Doctors of Audiology. 

“When students complete their rotations at PEI, I think it’s important that they get to see a group of colleagues who genuinely enjoy spending time together and having fun during our work day. We look forward to the days we work together,” she said. “There’s a lot of support there. If somebody needs help, somebody else in the clinic is always going to pitch in and help. It’s a really close-knit, supportive, collegial environment. I think it's great for students to know that it can be like this.”

Dr. Bondurant reported that due to PEI’s tremendous growth in patient numbers, the clinic’s future goals have shifted from building a bigger patient base to physically expanding in order to accommodate this success. She hopes to add additional providers in response to the demand for services and to add more space either in the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania location or a satellite clinical facility. 

“We’re really at the limit of what our current space can handle, which is amazing, and it's been quite a journey to get to that point,” she said. “It's a good place to be and it's fun to be able to tell University administration, look how much we’ve grown! Now it’s time to expand.”