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New audiologist on board at MCH - Odessa American: Local News

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New audiologist on board at MCH

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Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2020 11:51 am

Being born hearing impaired inspired audiologist Dr. Molly Fenwick to go into her profession.

She is now with Medical Center Hospital ProCare and has 19 years of experience.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders from the University of Mississippi, a master’s degree in audiology from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and a doctorate in audiology from Salus University in Elkins Park, Pa. Her schooling took about nine years.

“I was born with a condition called otosclerosis,” Fenwick said. “It’s where the bones in your middle ear are kind of frozen. They’re supposed to move and a growth gets over there and they’re frozen, so they go in there free them up and put a prosthesis in there.”

She had surgery on her ears when she was young and then in her mid-20s, but she said that didn’t really take.

“... You can only have so many middle ear type surgeries before they just prefer for you to wear hearing aids,” Fenwick said.

She wears hearing aids in both ears.

Fenwick said she’s always been good at lip reading, but with people wearing masks during the pandemic it’s bad for people with any kind of lip-reading ability because people can’t see what you’re saying.

“My condition is actually fairly rare. You do see people who have that. You rarely see it in children. That is actually a really uncommon thing. Aging is of course a factor, so I see older people,” Fenwick said.

Noise also is becoming more of a factor.

“... We always associate noise with construction work or heavy equipment, but we’re starting to see it in younger and younger people,” she said.

Inside the inner ear, there is an organ that looks like a snail and there “and inside there all these little fibers and they’re each tuned to a specific frequency, kind of like a stringed instrument and for whatever reason if you get a lot of noise a couple of those fibers can break off,” Fenwick said.

“A few of them you’re not going to notice because there are hundreds of thousands of them in there, but then over time the more noise you’re exposed to the more and they don’t grow back,” she added.

That’s where things like music and hunting play a factor. Aging, certain medications and cancer therapies can also play a role in hearing loss.

“Those fibers age and break off and it’s kind of funny because it’s different for everybody. That’s where genetics come into play because you want to kind of see how your family ages. ... I’ve tested a 101-year old lady who had perfect hearing,” Fenwick said.

She treats everyone from children through adults.

Their hearing is tested in a sound treated booth and when the patient hears a tone they press a button on a device. The room is somewhat smaller for a younger patient.

Ear wax is not a bad thing because, Fenwick said, it keeps your ear from drying out. People who don’t produce much ear wax, and especially as they get older, their ears can get dry, scaly and itchy.

Some people produce too much wax and have to get it cleaned out.

Insects don’t like ear because of the smell, she said.

The strangest thing she ever saw in someone’s ear was a patient who traveled abroad a lot.

“I looked in his ear and it literally looked like a rain forest inside his ear. I’d never seen it before. It was a specific kind of fungus,” Fenwick said.

She added that she’s seen bugs in people’s ears.

Fenwick does not recommend Q-tips because it can pack ear wax in.

“A lot of times, your ears are self cleaning so the wax will kind of migrate out on its own. Some people will do a drop or two of alcohol. You want to put it a bottle and keep it on your person for a while because you want it to get to body temperature. (If) you put an ear drop in your ear and it is above or below body temperature, it will make you dizzy,” she said.

Fenwick moved to Odessa from Memphis, Tenn.

“My parents live in Arlington, so I’ve been looking to move closer to them, so that was the big pull was. I was looking for something in Texas to be closer to my family,” Fenwick said.

Johany Herrera, ProCare medical director at Medical Center Health System, said MCH is happy to have Fenwick in Odessa.

“Dr. Fenwick brings 19 years of experience as an outstanding audiologist,” to the Permian Basin, Herrera said.

“She is able to diagnose and treat common and complex audiological problems in adults and kids. The Permian Basin will benefit from her expertise for many years to come,” Herrera said in a text message.

Odessa, TX

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