CONTACT: Rebecca Sylvester
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(AUGUSTA, GA. Aug. 23, 2007) – University Health Care Foundation and WellCare of Georgia, Inc. announced today that University Hospital’s newborn infant hearing screening program will receive $50,000 over the next two years from WellCare. The contribution will help sustain the infant screening program, and help University advance its Speech and Hearing Center continuum of care for diagnosis and hearing aid fitting for children after diagnosis. The hospital screens approximately 3,700 newborns annually, and dedicates approximately $25,000 to this effort each year, according to Juli Hollenbeck, M.Ed.CCC-SLP, Senior Speech-Language Pathologist with University’s Speech and Hearing Center.
“Our program, which is a service of our Audiology department, has one of the highest success rates in the state, which can be attributed to the regular focus on diagnosis and prevention,” Mrs. Hollenbeck said. “We have highly-trained, consistent staff, and program objectives that have been in place from the start. Our program has traditionally been used as a model for other hospitals that were initiating this type of service.”
In 1999 Georgia Legislature passed a law to establish universal newborn hearing screening as a system of care for all Georgia newborns. The goal of this law was to develop and sustain a comprehensive coordinated system for Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention in Georgia, in which hospitals, primary health care providers and public health agencies work together to ensure all newborns are screened at birth. The law also required that newborn screenings would be administered to no fewer than 95 percent of newborns before they were discharged from the hospital.
“University screens newborns every day, including holidays, to help ensure that 100 percent of babies are screened before discharge,” Audiologist Tom Schroder, M.A.CCC-A said, describing University’s program, one of the first in the state of Georgia. ”These technicians, some of whom have been with us since our program started 10 years ago, are dedicated helping ensure these babies receive the proper start.”
“WellCare is proud to support the University’s Speech and Hearing Center,” said Michael Cotton, Chief Operating Officer of WellCare of Georgia, Inc. “We have an incredible opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of our state’s children, and I’m delighted we can be a part of the University’s efforts.”
Laura Farmer can vouch for the importance of the early screening initiative. Hearing deficiencies were detected in her son, Trey, through the infant hearing screening program at University. Today, he is a healthy, well-adjusted 7-year-old.
“Early detection allowed us to gather information about our options and begin to make decisions about the course of treatment that would best benefit our son,” Mrs. Farmer said. “We are so grateful for this program, and the fact that it will continue through the help of WellCare.”
About University Hospital
University Health Care System offers a comprehensive range of services throughout 25 counties in Georgia and South Carolina. The cornerstone of the system is University Hospital, a 581-bed community nonprofit hospital that leads the region in diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and is noted as a leader in obstetrical and gynecological care. The nearly 600 physicians who practice at University Hospital represent nearly every medical and surgical specialty. University has been named the Consumer Choice Award winner in the Augusta area for eight consecutive years for overall quality and image, and is the only hospital in Augusta to have the Magnet designation for nursing excellence. For more information, log onto www.universityhealth.org.
About WellCare Health Plans, Inc.
WellCare Health Plans, Inc. provides managed care services exclusively for government-sponsored healthcare programs, focusing on Medicaid and Medicare. Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, WellCare offers a variety of Medicaid and Medicare plans, including health plans for families, children, the aged, blind and disabled and prescription drug plans, currently over 2.3 million members nationwide. For more information about WellCare, please visit the Company's website at www.wellcare.com.