About Me: Getting My New Ears: Part III

Catch up on the journey with the links below:

Part I

Part II

UPDATE: I waited a few hours after writing this blog initially before getting restless and calling the ENT's office on my own. What I discovered was infuriating. Firstly, despite telling me to 2 weeks ago that they were going to send everything out from the TWC to the ENT to authorize my appointment, the ENT office confirmed they did not receive the information from the TWC until late Tuesday afternoon (I called early Thursday afternoon). But the biggest issue I found during that conversation was that there was a note attached to my authorization form from the TWC advised the ENT that I would call them, which is the exact opposite of what I was told. So for the last 48 hours the ENT has been waiting on me to call while I've been waiting on them to call because we were told opposing things by the TWC staff. Luckily for me, I'm not a patient person and tend to take it upon myself to solve problems others create where I'm involved and was able to get my appointment scheduled but not soon enough thanks to the various delays caused by the TWC to complete this step before Thanksgiving. If this current trend of saying one thing but doing another by the TWC continues then there is absolutely no chance I'll have what I need before Christmas and with each encounter I wonder more and more if January is a feasible target unless there is something I can do to take a greater role in the future activities.

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Here I sit 1 week away from Thanksgiving. It has been roughly 60 days since I began this process of getting my hearing tested, learning I need hearing aids, and starting the process with my local Texas Workforce Commission office to acquire the devices that will undoubtedly aid me in keeping my job as it does depend heavily on the ability to listen to customers. And just like with the previous article that was posted more than 2 weeks ago, I have yet to submit an order to purchase anything and I still do not have a clear timeline for when that option will exist.

So what have I and the TWC accomplished in the last two weeks? Not much, if I'm honest.

I received a text confirmation from the TWC rep on Nov. 6th that he had received all of the paperwork from the Callier Center. I had completed my TWC required 2nd hearing aid selection appointment with the Callier Center a week earlier. I can't say if the paperwork took a week to get sent to the TWC or if it took a week for the TWC to finally acknowledge their receipt of it but either way it was finally there. After nearly 8 weeks of back and forth, the TWC finally had all of the paperwork they wanted to be able to proceed to Step 2, sending me to their ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) to confirm the diagnosis provided by the Callier Center in the mountains of paperwork the TWC demanded from them.

I confirmed immediately via text with the TWC rep that I was agreeable to using their ENT provider under the condition that the provider contact me to schedule the appointment directly rather than the alternative of the TWC coordinate the appointment scheduling and I am simply informed of when my mandatory appointment will be. If its mandatory, I want to ensure that I can meet the scheduled time which means my involvement in the process is equally mandatory. The TWC rep confirmed that it shouldn't be an issue and I should expect to be contacted by the ENT to schedule the appointment. I'm not provided with any expectations or ETAs, only that the doctor's office will contact me.

Two days go by and I've not heard anything from the ENT about my appointment. Given my experience in getting the redundant hearing aid selection appointment scheduled this wasn't a big surprise to me but it was annoying. However, I had a second thought. Now that the Callier Center had provided all of the paperwork, which included their device recommendations, could the TWC at least provide me with a price. The idea was that by leveraging this program that I might be able to purchase the devices as a better price than just straight retail since my health insurance seems to cover everything but hearing aids. If the TWC came back with a price that did not represent any savings to me then it wouldn't behoove me to continue to jump through these hoops because I could acquire the devices much faster buying them direct.

The TWC rep said he would have to look into the pricing and get back to me.

A week later, the TWC's standard turnaround time it seems, I get a text from the TWC rep with the price. The price I was quoted by the TWC was only slightly less than the price I was quoted by the Callier Center in September for if I wanted to purchase them at retail cost. I called this out to the TWC rep who countered that the information he received from the Callier Center had the devices listed at a substantially higher price than what they had told me. If we went by the numbers provided to the TWC then I was looking at about a 35% discount as opposed to the 12% discount if we worked off the original quote I had received in September. Either way, the TWC represented some savings, enough to justify the hassle and time that the TWC had added to the process.

I confirmed to the TWC rep that I was ready to make the purchase and had the funds available to pay immediately. But as expected, the TWC rep advised that I would not be permitted to submit my purchase order until I had completed the appointment with their ENT and they had received the ENT's report confirming my diagnosis. With that confirmation, I advised the TWC rep that I still have not been contacted by the ENT to schedule that appointment.

It has now been another two days since my last exchange with the TWC, or rather 10 days since the TWC confirmed that they would get everything processed so the ENT could contact me to schedule the next mandatory appointment, and I've still not heard anything. I've texted the TWC rep to see if he could reach out to the ENT office to expedite the scheduling process but I've not heard back yet. He did previously provide me with the doctor's name and location so if I don't hear something soon from the TWC or the doctor's office, I will, as usual, take it upon myself to track this doctor down and contact their office directly to do what nobody else has been able to accomplish in the last 10 days, schedule me an appointment.

At this point, my biggest frustration is the overall lack of effort. It should not take 10 days to schedule an appointment. Everything about this process has been drawn out to an inefficient amount of time. I politely expressed my desire to the TWC rep that I had hopes to submit my order before next week's Thanksgiving holiday so that there was a decent chance for the devices to be delivered to the Callier Center in time for them to be configured and delivered to me before Christmas. Sadly, while that is my desire, I have ever growing doubts about the probability of it being reality.

Given the timelines that I've experienced with the TWC, even if I have my ENT appointment tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 17) that the TWC will have the paperwork back from that appointment and processed to the point to allow me to submit payment for my order BEFORE Thanksgiving. At this point, the best case scenario that I think I can realistically expect is to be able to submit my order by the 1st of December, provided that I can get my ENT appointment scheduled for sometime before Thanksgiving. This means that it will take up to 2 weeks from that time for the devices to be delivered to the Callier Center, which would put my devices reaching them for configuration maybe a week before Christmas. That close to the holidays I highly doubt that the doctor will configure and deliver them to me before being closed to celebrate.

I'll consider myself lucky to have completed this process by January 2024. But had someone told me that it would take 5-6 months to complete this process to only save a few hundred dollars then I would have just paid the retail price in September and been done with it. Sure, a savings of any amount is a good thing in our current age of inflation but there has to be something said for expediency versus economy. If I had discovered that I was blind and needed glasses I wouldn't want to wait 6 months for a pair of glasses. And if my hearing wasn't that bad then why did I go to the doctor? My ears have been a problem. I want to have them addressed. Simply acknowledging my problem and having it confirmed by a doctor does nothing to resolve the issue and the extreme stress its recent advancements has added to my life and thus further impacting both my physical and mental health.

But I will say this, for a program that's purpose to help people get or maintain jobs, it isn't doing a very good job at it. If I was having issues securing work because of my hearing loss, this program would extend those issues for many more months than necessary due to its own inefficiencies. My financial well being and the well being of my family would be seriously jeopardized because this program's snail-like pace would not help me in a timely manner. Had my job been in jeopardy in September when I started this process, I don't know that my employer would have the patience to keep me on the payroll for half a year while we waited on the TWC to help me retain my job.

At the heart of my frustration though is that I know it doesn't have to be this way. My day job is an IT consultant where I specialize in designing and implementing process automations that can take processes like this and cut their timelines down from days or weeks to mere seconds. Instead of my TWC rep having to email or print forms that are then given to his assistant who then manually faxes them to someone else, the systems I work with can do this automatically within seconds. After the TWC rep completes my intake forms, those values are automatically processed by a logic engine that determines which forms need to be sent to who and just does it. No waiting on someone else. No "I have a week to get it done so I'm not messing with it for a few days." No "I misdialed the fax number." Just straight up the computer gets that shit done!

What has taken over 9 weeks to complete to date could have been done in about 4 through automation. Sure, there would still be gaps for things like appointments and paperwork that automation can't complete but it could seriously speed up everything in between.

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