The Newborn Hearing Screening Program at Coleman County Medical Center (CCMC) was recently recognized with a 2-year certification as a “Distinguished” program, the highest level of certification granted by the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS).

The program was established to help ensure all newborns and infants at CCMC are screened for potential hearing loss, with appropriate follow-up, and early childhood intervention referrals for newborns and infants identified as deaf or hard of hearing.  

According to studies, hearing loss impacts one to three births per 1,000.  If undetected and without treatment, significant hearing impairment may negatively impact speech development and lead to other problems which can influence their social and academic skills.  

In order to be certified by the TDSHS, a program must provide hearing screening using equipment recommended by the department, use staff with appropriate training to provide the screening, maintain and report data electronically, distribute educational materials, provide information to the parents on follow-up services for newborns and infants who do not pass the screening, and be supervised by an appropriate professional.

“We were thrilled by the news,” said Sandra Ratliff, RN, supervisor of the CCMC program.  “Our staff works very hard to maintain a high quality program that meets the needs of newborns, infants and their parents, as well as state criteria,” she explained.  “Certification as a ‘Distinguished’ program lets us know we achieving our goals.”     

There are over 230 hospitals and birthing facilities with obstetrical services or neonatal intensive care units licensed by the TDSHS that perform newborn hearing screening in Texas.  Only 170 meet the national and state criteria necessary to achieve “Distinguished” status.  

“This means that the services at CCMC are as good as or better than any in the state,” said Clay Vogel, hospital administrator.  “I could not be prouder of our staff or our services.”

The TDSHS has established four levels of certification for newborn hearing screening programs:  Preliminary (a new program), Provisional, Standard and Distinguished.  Eight data metric standards measuring performance against national standards and state performance averages are used to determine certification outcomes.