Their Life's Work

Listening to a calling

After bonding over a beloved Nazareth professor, Chelsea Freeman ’13 and Laura Lamb ’09 are bringing accessible and affordable hearing care to the area they have always called home.

by Joanie Eppinga

Chelsea Freeman and Laura Lamb

Laura Lamb ’09 (back) and Chelsea Freeman ’13 (front) say they work well together because of their aligned approaches, shaped by Nazareth and Dr. James Feuerstein.

Chelsea Freeman ’13 was dismayed. She had intended to major in speech pathology, but it didn’t feel right. Phoning home, she told her parents, “I’m not sure this is for me!”

Freeman took her concern to her professor of audiology, Dr. James Feuerstein — or Dr. F., as his students called him. Dr. F. said, “Chelsea, wait until next semester. You’ll have some audiology classes. I think you might like it.”

That was the turning point for Freeman. “He was 100% right,” she says. “I fell in love.”

Laura Lamb ’09 was also originally uncertain about her major. “I wasn’t sure about the speech pathology field,” she says. “But Dr. F. pulled me aside and said, ‘Laura, this is your thing. You excel at this. Follow your heart.’”

Both women are glad they listened. Thanks to what Lamb calls “Dr. F.’s infectious enthusiasm,” both went on to get doctorates — Lamb from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Freeman from the University of Arizona. And then, in 2022, they started a practice together.

At Audiology Services of WNY, Lamb specializes in balance and dizziness, while Freeman focuses on pediatric audiology, seeing children of all ages.

“There’s nothing like watching a child hear for the very first time,” Freeman says, “and seeing the family’s joy and relief.” 

Helping people to participate is what it’s about, Lamb says. One of her most rewarding moments came when she met with an elderly woman whose hearing aids had been broken for some time. After Lamb fixed them, she reports, the woman turned them on. “Her eyes welled up,” Lamb says, “and she exclaimed, ‘Oh, this is wonderful. Now I can hear my great-grandchildren again!’”

Freeman and Lamb especially appreciate working with individuals in the area where they both grew up. They know many of their patients. “And my grandpa was the vet here for years,” says Freeman. “If they don’t know us, they probably knew him!”

“The hometown value is really important to us,” says Lamb. “We want to take care of the people who took care of us.” 

One way they do that is by having offices in Olean and Wellsville. That means people who would otherwise have to drive to Rochester or Buffalo can get services locally.

“Saving the mom of a 3-year-old, say, from having to drive for three hours — that makes her life a lot easier,” Lamb says. 

Freeman agrees, adding that another core value the two share is a commitment to offering services broadly. “Sometimes people struggle getting a provider to accept their particular insurance,” she explains, “but we try not to turn anyone away.”

Lamb and Freeman say they work well together because of their aligned approaches, shaped by Nazareth and Dr. F. As Lamb explains, “We care. And not just about their hearing — we know their grandkids’ names, marriages coming up, college acceptances; to me, that relationship is so important to having good outcomes.”

Clearly, this isn’t just a job for either audiologist. They have a calling, and they’re listening.

Joanie Eppinga is a freelance writer and editor in Spokane, Washington.

Speech pathology program

Nazareth offers a B.S. in communication sciences and disorders and a pre-audiology minor.

Plus, Nazareth offers three ways to get a master's degree in speech-language pathology:

Chelsea Freeman