A pilot program that integrates comprehensive hearing screenings and baby wellness programs was launched recently in Los Angeles. Under the program, called Baby Sound Check®, children from birth to age 3 will receive periodic screenings to identify late and progressive hearing loss.
Baby Sound Check was developed by staff at Los Angeles’s John Tracy Clinic (www.johntracyclinic.org) in collaboration with the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County and AltaMed Medical Group. The program was launched on May 11 at AltaMed’s East Los Angeles Commerce Clinic, where the program will be studied as a model for an expanded, national program.
Though newborn hearing screenings are embraced nationwide, 30% to 50% of children “fall through the cracks,” after they leave the hospital, according to John Tracy Clinic audiologist Christine Eubanks, PhD, director of Baby Sound Check.
“Following up with children can be a problem because families move, phone numbers change and follow-up doesn’t get done,” Eubanks said. “This program has been designed to help address that issue.”
The program protocols comprise tympanometry, acoustic reflex, and otoacoustic emissions testing to assess the hearing of infants and toddlers. The training given to medical assistants and licensed vocational nurses who administer the program’s tests was supplied by John Tracy Clinic staff.
In its first 3 years, Baby Sound Check is expected to assess and monitor the hearing health of more than 10,000 children at the participating clinics in Los Angeles. Children suspected of hearing loss will be referred to john Tracy Clinic for free comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, appropriate referral, and follow-up.
“While it’s important to still do hospital screenings it makes sense to screen in a doctor’s office where children are coming routinely through their first years,” Parul Bahtia, MD, lead pediatrician for Baby Sound Check, said. “We’ll be looking at this program as a model and we will learn from it, change it, and hope to implement it on a national level.”
Actress Monica Horan and her husband, producer Philip Rosenthal, of the long-running CBS sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” helped fund the program’s first 3 years, with additional support provided by individual members of the Everychild Foundation. Baby Sound Check is designed to become self-sustaining at all four of its participating clinics throughout the Los Angeles area.
—Frank Long is associate editor of Hearing Products Report. He can be reached at [email protected].