Babies born at Shore Memorial Hospital don’t leave the maternity wing without getting their first set of footprints, their first bath… and their first hearing test.
Starting in 2002, state regulations required hospitals to test all newborns for hearing impairment before they could be discharged. Shore Memorial Hospital’s Infant Hearing Screening program, run by Nursery Supervisor Joan Carberry and Electronic Birth Certificate Coordinator Barb Moyer, has been so successful that Moyer and Carberry were asked by the New Jersey Early Hearing Detection & Intervention program (EHDI) to share their program materials with other hospitals.
At the end of October, Shore Memorial hosted the Southern Regional EHDI meeting. There, Carberry and Moyer gave a power point presentation on their infant hearing screening program to representatives from more than 17 hospitals from around the region.
“We really care that no child is left behind in any way,” Carberry says. “Most babies can hear well at birth, but some do not. Testing is the only way to know if a baby has hearing loss.”
For the test, the newborn is hooked up to an Automated Brain Response machine that picks up the brain’s responses to sound. If the baby does not pass the test, the parents are advised to either bring their child back to Shore Memorial for a follow-up, or consult an audiologist, depending on the newborn’s other hearing risk factors.
Moyer and Carberry make it a point to follow up on every referred newborn to ensure that the child got a follow-up screening, even if it means multiple phone calls to parents and physicians.
Don’t believe them? Carberry and Moyer once spent nearly a year trying to contact a mother to make sure she followed up on her child’s questionable hearing test.
“When we finally got the follow for that baby, we gave each other a high five,” Carberry recalls.
Carberry advises parents to consult their physicians immediately if there is any concern regarding hearing, speech or developmental delays with their children.
“If hearing is not detected early, this can contribute to language as well as academic, social and emotional delays,” Carberry says. “There are many ways a baby can be helped if hearing loss is checked early.”