Newborn Hearing Screening
In 1999, the Hearing Foundation established the first and only statewide newborn hearing screening program. With more than $417,000 in Lions contributions and a matching Lions Clubs International Foundation grant, they created the Lions Newborn Hearing Screening Program. This was an ambitious statewide initiative designed to establish newborn screening, without state funding or mandate, in every birthing hospital in Minnesota.
An audiologist was hired to execute the program in 2000 with duties of visiting 111 hospitals in Minnesota. The audiologist offered to help select testing equipment and train staff how to use it, as well as setting up a reporting and tracking system. If the hospital agreed to establish the newborn screening program through the Lions, the Lions Hearing Foundation paid for the testing equipment.
The program dramatically decreased the average age at which hearing impairment was detected and improved treatment outcomes. Statistics show that if a child is diagnosed and effectively treated before the age of 6 months they can develop language skills at the same rate as their normal hearing peers.