From the ears of babes

From left, Steve Anderson and Judy Steele raise the Elks flag in honour of speech and hearingmonth in May. As part of their 100th anniversary the Elks bought a hearing detection device for the Hay River public health lab.

Parents who need to get their infants’ hearing tested will now be able stay in Hay River to do it.

The Hay River Elks Club – as part of the international organization’s 100th anniversary and Speech and Hearing Awareness Month in May – has donated funds to Public Health to purchase a device that can test the hearing of infants.

The AuDX Pro is a $5,600 piece of equipment the size of two small hardcover books stacked together, wired with tiny ear buds.

Infants born in Yellowknife have their ears tested twice before travelling back to their communities, and either receive a pass or fail. However, there are variables in testing – sometimes newborns have fluid or matter in their ear canals which prevent them from receiving a pass reading.

“It’s really important to have that second testing for kids who fail the test the first time,” said Elks member Judy Steele, who is also a nurse. “Sometimes hearing test results for the infant aren’t included in the paperwork and we don’t know a child had difficulty until they experience a speech delay.”

When infants twice receive a fail result, it’s recommended they be tested a third time within four months. This means another costly trip to Yellowknife.

Once the new equipment is received at Public Health, nurses will be trained how to use it by an audiologist.

“This couldn’t have come at a better time,” said nurse Frances Aylward. “Hearing tests are part of screening newborns in the NWT and it costs a lot of money to have mothers and babies sent back to Yellowknife to get retested.”

As part of Speech and Hearing Awareness Month, the Hay River Elks Club each year raises a flag in front of Town Hall on the first weekend of May.

On Sunday, 13 people from the Elks Club, Hay River Public Health and the Town of Hay River gathered to raise an awareness flag that will fly throughout the month.