In 1999, the Minnesota Lions Hearing Foundation established the first and only statewide screening program for the early detection of hearing problems in newborns. With more than $417,000 in contributions and a matching grant from the Lions Clubs International Foundation, we created the Lions Newborn Hearing Screening Program. This was an ambitious initiative designed to establish newborn screening, without state funding or mandate, in every birthing hospital in Minnesota.
Executed by an Audiologist
An audiologist was hired to execute the program in 2000 with the duty of visiting 111 hospitals in Minnesota. Our audiologist offered to help the hospitals select testing equipment and train their staff how to use it, as well as set up a reporting and tracking system. If the hospital agreed to establish their newborn screening program through the Lions, the Lions Multiple District 5M Hearing Foundation paid for the testing equipment.
Detecting Hearing Impairment Sooner
The program dramatically decreased the average age at which hearing impairment was detected which improved treatment outcomes. Statistics show that if a child is diagnosed and effectively treated before the age of six months, he or she can develop language skills at the same rate as their normal-hearing peers.