Newborn hearing tests subject of health council meeting

Posted By | February 4, 2002 12:00 am

Kim Swindell Wood
A standing-room-only crowd gathered in the meeting room at White County Community Hospital on Tuesday for the monthly meeting of White County Health Council.
Representatives of the healthcare community attended the luncheon meeting. White County Health Council Chairman Wallace Austin introduced Dr. Chad Griffin as the guest speaker. Griffin showed a video on the necessity of checking hearing in newborns. After the informative and compelling video, Griffin elaborated on the impact of the testing of newborns for hearing deficiencies. Griffin said, “Hearing loss in newborns causes the child to be developmentally slow if the problem is not discovered before six months of age.”
Griffin continued by saying the hearing problems are more easily correctable when revealed at an early age. According to Griffin, babies with hearing problems do not reach their full learning potential. It affects their ability to learn, and he feels there is a great need to provide the testing capabilities at White County Community Hospital.
Griffin described the test called Evoked Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE), which measures sound waves generated in the cochlea in response to clicks emitted and recorded via miniature microphones placed in the external canal (affected by fluid and debris in the external and middle ear.) He said this test is easier to perform, and it is often the first initiated test. Griffin said, “There is less cost for ongoing supplies with this particular test.”
If the OAE is abnormal, it is usually followed by Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR), which records brain wave patterns in response to clicking sound (much less affected by fluid or debris in the external or middle ear.) This procedure tests the entire hearing pathway from the outer ear to the brainstem, and only takes approximately three to five minutes in a quiet baby. The cost of supplies can be between $2 to $10 per baby.
According to Griffin, universal newborn hearing screening is required by law in more than 30 states, including all states that border Tennessee. However, Tennessee does not have a legislatively mandated newborn screening program. Some hospitals in Tennessee do check newborn’s hearing, but White County Community Hospital does not currently have the equipment to perform the tests.
Griffin asked the health council about exploring the possibility of partnering with community organizations and businesses in an effort to secure the equipment for the testing. He said the A.B.R. machine was the primary choice, and would cost approximately $9,000.
Griffin said he had spoken with Mark Cain, White County Community Hospital administrator, and he had agreed to furnish the supplies required for the testing. The average cost per is $1,000, which depends of the number of newborns tested. The testing would also be free to all newborns.
Margaret Pearson, community advocate, made a motion to adopt this as a project for the health council, and explore the possibility of partnering with the community in purchasing the A.B.R. machine.
Other business included:
– Melinda Williams of Preferred Logistics, and a breast cancer advocate, told the health council members of a dinner, which would honor breast cancer survivors. The event will take place April 18, 2002, at the Agricultural Complex. Williams said U.S. Congressman Van Hilleary would be the keynote speaker, but the event is non-partisan. The tickets are $10 and will fund a scholarship for a White County High School student who is pursuing a nursing career. The event will be the culmination of The Expositor’s Women’s Show. According to Williams, The Expositor Publisher Suzanne Dickerson has agreed to donate $1 from each ticket sold for the Women’s Show to the scholarship fund.
– Lou Ann Grossberg gave an update on the proposal to the Regional Health Council to do a survey on cancer rates in White County. Grossberg said, “The feedback was not positive, but it got their attention.”
According to Grossberg, Toni Bounds of the Tenn. Cancer Registry Program has agreed to appear at one of the White County Council meetings, and assist in helping in the project. Dr. Chet Gentry said, “I believe she will give us the tools, resources and contacts we need to pursue the study.”
-Judy Guth, chairman of the tobacco sub-committee, was not present, but Grossberg spoke on Guth’s behalf. Grossberg said Guth was pleased with the progress of the S.W.A.T. (Stop With All Tobacco) team, and they were “going strong”. According to Guth’s report, the middle school organization has been educating the elementary age school children. They will have visited four of the seven elementary schools in White County by the end of February.
-David Sauer gave a report on the progress of Gracemoor, Sauer said, “After months of struggling, the end of the tunnel is getting closer.”
He said the facility should be in operation by summer.
– Effie Lowery, Hepatitis C chairman, related some startling statistics from a newsletter she had received. According to the information, there is more than twice the number of Hepatitis C cases reported from individuals with commercially acquired tattoos than from injection drug users.
The White County Health Council meets at noon at White County Community Hospital on the last Tuesday of the month. The next scheduled meeting will be Feb. 26, 2002.

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