Schiefelbusch at Topeka Scottish Rite opens Nov. 14 to serve infants with hearing loss
The Topeka Scottish Rite and The University of Kansas Schiefelbusch Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic have partnered to help families of newborns who may have hearing problems.
The Schiefelbusch Clinic at Topeka Scottish Rite opened Nov. 14 at the Topeka Masonic Center, 2300 S.W. 30th. The clinic offers diagnostic follow-up services for newborns who fail their hearing screenings.
“Child communication disorders are the national philanthropy for the Scottish Rite,” said Donald A. Mahrle, personal representative to the Sovereign Grand Inspector General for the Orient of Kansas. “We feel there is a great need, and it is a great service to kids.”
The Kansas Scottish Rite donates funds to support hearing, language and speech programs at KU Medical Center, The University of Kansas, Wichita State University and Fort Hays State University.
Angie Reeder, an audiologist for the Schiefelbusch Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic and clinical assistant professor, serves as the audiologist for the new Topeka outreach program.
“This clinic is designed specifically for follow-up to universal newborn screenings,” Reeder said.
The Schiefelbusch Clinic at Topeka Scottish Rite has an audiology clinic the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.
The new Topeka clinic has received support from the Topeka Valley Scottish Rite, the Kansas Scottish Rite Foundation and Sound Beginnings, a statewide newborn hearing screening program.
About 42,000 babies were born in Kansas last year, according to data from Sound Beginnings. Of those babies, 99 percent are screened for hearing loss before they turn 1 month old. However, 37 percent of those babies who fail the screening don’t return for further follow up testing.
Three in 1,000 babies are identified with some degree of permanent hearing loss, Reeder said. This means there are babies who may have permanent hearing loss who aren’t being tested.
Reeder recently tested a newborn baby from Nebraska at the Topeka clinic. Without it, the family would have had to travel an even greater distance.
“This is a nice, centrally-located facility,” Reeder said.
While there is a fee for the comprehensive — three tests in all — service, most insurance companies will pay for it, Reeder said. There also are ways for families who can’t pay to still take part in the program.
The three tests conducted at the Schiefelbusch Clinic at Topeka Scottish Rite include Auditory Brainstem Response, which measures the hearing nerve’s response to sounds; otoacoustic emission, which determines the cochlear status; and tympanogram, which is used to evaluate the function of the middle ear.
Babies have to be asleep for the ABR testing. The ABR uses the changes in electrical activity along the auditory nerve to estimate hearing thresholds, Reeder said. Electrodes are placed on the baby’s forehead and ears, and a small probe is placed in the ear to deliver the sound. Reeder watches a computer screen as waveforms appear.
The baby doesn’t have to be asleep for the otoacoustic emission test or the tympanogram test.
Testing can take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours, depending on when the baby falls asleep.
The room — provided for no charge at the Topeka Masonic Center, 2300 S.W. 30th — is small, but allows room for testing equipment, a small desk with a lamp and a recliner for a parent.
“We are starting with an audiology outreach clinic but anticipate the expansion of the Schiefelbusch Clinic at Topeka Scottish Rite to speech and language services,” Jane Wegner, director of the Schiefelbusch Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, wrote in the Topeka Scottish Rite Bulletin. “We hope to provide speech, language and reading assessments, as well as parent education programs in the future.”
Reeder said she thinks the program will grown rapidly.
“This fits nicely with the Schiefelbusch Clinic,” she said. “I love it. I get to bring what I love to do to the community.”
Reeder has a master’s degree in audiology and a doctorate in special education with an emphasis in severe, multiple disabilities.
“This is a very proactive step in our philanthropy,” said Paul R. Oldham, executive secretary for the Topeka Scottish Rite Bodies.