Hospital offers hearing service for new babies

| 23/03/2011

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Health Services Authority has recently installed new equipment which will enable it to test the hearing of all infants born at the George Town hospital. It has also started a monthly clinic to offer the test to babies born elsewhere. The new service will enable early identification of hearing disorders that will better equip physicians to guide intervention, treatment and counseling to families on managing hearing loss that may be detected in their newborn. “We are extremely proud of this new service as it closes another gap in services that had previously existed in the Cayman Islands,” said HSA Medical Director Dr Greg Hoeksema.

“It is a significant step forward in the quality of care and reflects our commitment to constant improvement of both patient safety and the scope of services we provide. Furthermore, it is a terrific example of the work now being done by the Caring for Life Foundation in partnership with the HSA on behalf of the people of Cayman,” the hospital’s senior doctor added.

The testing uses external electrodes to measure the auditory brainstem response, while tubes placed in the ear assess otoacoustic emissions. In simpler terms, this means painless sensors are placed on the baby’s head and ears to measure brain wave activity associated with hearing. Both processes are non-invasive, require about 20 minutes to complete and can be done while the baby is sleeping or in a quiet state, explained Dr Hoeksema.

HSA CEO Lizzette Yearwood said the new service would guide referrals for early intervention like speech therapy and audiology more quickly to improve outcomes for all children with hearing loss. “It is a vitally important new service we are now able to offer, and we are notifying every private doctor and OB/GYN in the Cayman Islands, encouraging them to avail themselves — and their patients — of this service” she added.

While the hearing testing equipment was financed solely through the HSA, the authority was able to underwrite the costs of personnel training for the new equipment with the assistance of the recently established Caring for Life Foundation. The foundation was launched last November to help the authority fund new equipment, research, and education to boost HSA services and capabilities.

Caring for Life’s Foundation Chairman, ScotiaBank Director of Private Banking Bruce John, said he was pleased Caring for Life was able to fund the training programme for the new equipment, fulfilling its promise as a charitable trust.

“The devoted professionals at the HSA have done excellent work in the last few years, improving the quality and scope of care, but, particularly in these difficult economic times of tight budgets and reduced expenditures, the organisation needs the assistance we can offer,” he said. “It is a perfect example of what can be accomplished through public-private partnerships, and we think stands as an example for future advances in local health care. 

“We are very pleased to have been able to play a role in this, realising that everyone in the Cayman Islands benefits. Certainly, in this case, families and newborns are helped to ensure the long-term management of their healthcare. What better way to make our first contribution of Caring for Life funds than in the health of newborn babies in Cayman.” John added.

At the foundation’s November launch at a Governor’s House ceremony, John pointed to a five-page list detailing $8.7 million of needed equipment and improvements “for the medical, maternity and surgical wards, the operating theatre, accident and emergency, dialysis, pathology laboratory, the hospital’s plant and facilities, and the critical care unit, just to name a few”.
Yearwood said the new hearing equipment was possible because of steadily improving finances at the HSA, and reminded everyone that prompt payment of all outstanding medical bills was key to the authority’s financial health and re-investment strategy, ploughing profits back into expansion of services.

With the new equipment, she said, all babies born at the Cayman Islands Hospital are now screened before discharge. The hospital’s Paediatric Clinic will offer monthly auditory screenings for babies born outside the hospital.

For further information or questions, contact Nurse Charmin Fennell at 244-2502.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    I would just like to inform the public that this service has been provided by Cayman Hearing Center for the past four years!  Cayman Hearing Center is the only on island full service audiology practice and is staffed by the only Caymanian audiologist.  An audiologist is the only person who is trained and qualified to assess a person’s hearing.  Interesting that government did not seek them out before spending unnecessary money.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think its imperative to note that the Cayman Hearing Centre audiologist is based in Florida and travels to Cayman periodically to see patients. She is not here long enough to screen all newborns. Unless she is going to relocate to Cayman permanently, it is in the best interests of this initiative to have in house hearing tests for newbies etc.

      • Anonymous says:

        If the previous commenter would do their homework and research they would know that the CAYMANIAN DOCTOR OF AUDIOLOGY IS OPERATING FULL TIME OUT OF HER OFFICE IN ALEXANDER PLACE, INDUSTRIAL PARK in GRAND CAYMAN!!!!!

        It would be wise to question why government and HSA saw fit to spend upwards of $15,000 on equipment that was already on island AND the fact there was someone who knew how to operate the equipment and interpret the testing. As the utterly useless people they are the saw fit to train persons, undoubtedly who are NOT Caymanian to do a job that a CAYMANIAN has the training, experience and certification to already do!!!!!

        Once again the ignorance of the island is shown in that they chose to not elevate and support their own LOCAL BORN AND BRED professionals, but rather put faith in the foreigner!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        How many babies you think are being born a day that you think she can’t handle it? Even if she were visiting periodically, which she isn’t by the way, she is here full time!. So get your facts right!  This isn’ta metropolitan place with hundreds of babies being born that one person couldn’t handle no matter how often she is here.

        We just need to start supporting our own and stop wasting unnecessary money.  I know the audiology doctor and she’s been doing newborn testing for the past four years.  Tell me why it is that now HSA feel they need to be the big man and take credit for something that has been on island since 2007??