Venerannda Leon Guerrero cradled her slumbering infant in her arms in a CEDDERS testing center at the University of Guam as she watched an audiologist in Colorado conduct a diagnostic test to determine whether or not her baby has a hearing loss. The remote test was held on October 19 and marked the first technology-enabled distance diagnostic testing for hearing loss on very young infants on the island.
This event was made possible through the Teleaudiology Project, a collaboration between Dr. Debra Hayes and Dr. Susan Dreith of the Bill Daniels Center for Children's Hearing, Children's Hospital-Colorado, and the University of Guam CEDDERS Guam Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) project, with support from the Guam Department of Education, Division of Special Education -- Early Intervention Program. Dr. Dreith and Dr. Ericka Schicke have obtained their licenses to practice as audiologists on Guam.
Drs. Dreith and Schicke at Children's Hospital-Colorado operate the diagnostic audiological equipment remotely from Colorado, after audiometrists on Guam prepare the parent and infant for testing. The Diagnostic Audiological Evaluation (DAE) may take 2 hours to complete, which requires the infant to be asleep during the evaluation. Parents know at the end of the test whether or not their infant has a hearing loss.
The urgent need for diagnosis of very young infants for hearing loss prompted this much-needed collaboration to bring this service to families on Guam. Infants on Guam that do not pass their newborn hearing screening can now be evaluated for any hearing loss before 3 months of age, thereby allowing early intervention services to be initiated, if needed, by the time the infant reaches 6 months of age. This timely early intervention service provides the infant and family the greatest opportunity for the child to develop speech and language in a timely manner for life-long success. Families no longer have to travel off-island to obtain diagnostic audiological evaluations for their infants.
"I think this accomplishment under UOG/Guam CEDDERS is a major step forward in the use of technology to support our community. Thanks to this partnership, babies on this island will get the needed pediatric audiological services from certified professionals, an area lacking on Guam," said Velma Sablan, professor at the University of Guam and experienced professional in the field of early hearing detection and intervention.
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