By Robert J. Jensen, MS
International Programs
Rotary Club of Mesa West
Since 1992, the Mesa West Rotary Club of Mesa, Arizona has sponsored a team of audiologists and doctors that conduct a medical mission to help the people of Guaymas, Mexico and others from the State of Sonora with their hearing problems.  Although the city has approximately 150,000 citizens, there are no audiologists or hearing aid dispensers in Guaymas. 
Guaymas is a Sister City of Mesa. It is located about 400 miles south of Phoenix, Arizona.  Its neighbor, San Carlos, lies twenty miles west on the coast of the Sea of Cortez. 
We have worked at a school for mentally and physically challenged students, many of whom have hearing loss.  We have a test booth, clinical audiometer, impedance meter, hearing aid modification tools and otoacoustic emissions screener.
Each year, a group of volunteers go and conduct hearing tests and medical examinations, fit and dispense hearing aids and earmolds, fix hearing aids, and provide consultations on matters related to aural rehabilitation and education of students with hearing loss.
We also test preschool-age children as well as adults. Over a typical four-day period, two are spent in traveling to and from Guaymas while two days are usually spent seeing patients.  It is not uncommon to see between 250 to 350 patients within those two days. 
All patients are given a medical examination by our volunteer doctors or local physicians, a hearing test by the audiologists, and, if needed, are fitted with custom-made temporary silicone earmolds and hearing aids.  Those already having hearing aids will have those aids inspected, cleaned and fixed or adjusted as needed.  Impressions are taken for many so that custom acrylic earmolds can be made and fitted on a return trip usually made in February or March of the next year. Batteries are dispensed to those needing them and the patients are counseled on the use and care of the hearing aids and earmolds.
All services are performed at no charge.  Extra ear-mold tubes, ear hooks for hearing aids and batteries are left at the school so that the school physician and other trained school personnel can perform minor repairs and distribute batteries to the students as needed.
Since 1992, over 5,000 patients have been seen and over 3,000 hearing aids have been fitted.  Most of the hearing aids have been of the behind-the-ear style with some body aids also being fit. A few custom in-the-ear hearing aids privately owned by the patients have been repaired, also.
Donations of hearing aids, batteries and supplies have come from various manufacturers and audiologists, as well as patients of audiologists in the United States. Donated hearing aids are reconditioned before being taken to Guaymas. Individuals, manufacturers and suppliers have also donated medical equipment.  Other medical equipment that has been taken to Guaymas includes wheel chairs, hospital beds, exam tables and chairs, bandages, syringes and general disposable medical supplies as well as medical books, office equipment and supplies.
The program does not require that the volunteers pay for their transportation or lodging but donations are welcome.  The Guaymas Rotary Club provides food and entertainment and helps in the arrangement of local transportation and lodging.  The Mesa West Rotary often sends club members to act as interpreters and assistants to the medical team.
Together, the cooperative work of many groups and individuals have made this Medical Mission for the citizens of Guaymas and Sonora a very effective and efficient program helping those with hearing loss hear the best they can with the hearing they have.
For more information on the program, please contact Robert J. Jensen, MS at or 602-370-2057.
Members and friends of the Rotary Club of Mesa West during a recent medical mission to Guaymas to provide free audiology services to local residents.