2015-16 Sertoma Grant Recipient Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital (JHACH)

Susan Spirakis (left) Au.D., clinical audiologist at JHACH fits a young patient with hearing aids using new Verifit technology, which was funded by Sertoma.

February 13, 2017

Can you imagine being a parent and having the opportunity to experience your child’s hearing loss through simulation technology? Or having access to the best hearing health professionals, top-of-the-line equipment and counseling services?

For over 50 years the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital (JHACH) and Sertoma have been working together to create a healthier hearing world and future for those with hearing loss.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s is an advanced children’s hospital on the west coast of Florida. The hospital provides high quality care for infants, children and teens while working to discover new treatments and train the next generation of pediatric specialists.

According to Paula Golson, a doctor of audiology, and a leader of the hearing services program at JHACH, said one of the hospital’s biggest hurdles this year dealt with the replacement of hearing aid programming equipment.

Hearing aids have the power to change a life, but if they are not programmed properly, speech will not reach the brain. For infants and children, this connection is critical to healthy brain development.

In order to provide children and infants with the best hearing aid fittings possible, a new and advanced technology called Verifit was needed. With the help of Sertoma’s community grant, and a gift from the Tampa Breakfast Sertoma Club, the hospital was able to purchase two brand new Verifit systems.

“This saves at least 15 minutes per patient now,” Golson says. “It allows the audiologist to spend more time counseling families, and ensuring that all listening and speaking goals are being met.”

In addition to saving time, the Verifit system saves information digitally, and allows receiver in the canal (RIC) hearing aids to be programmed almost effortlessly.

Susan Spirakis, Au.D., clinical audiologist at JHACH with 30 years of experience, says she is thrilled to have the new system, because it takes the “guess work” out of what she is doing.

“It can be extremely challenging fitting a two-month-old baby with hearing aids, because they can’t tell you how it sounds,” Spirakis adds. “This technology allows us to properly fit hearing aids on babies and children of all ages.”

Another major bonus is that parents can now gain a better understanding of their child’s hearing loss. Verifit technology encompasses a unique “hearing loss simulator,” which allows parents to physically experience how their child hears the world with and without the assistance of hearing aids.

This new equipment is expected to assist 15,000 patients within the next 10 years, and it has already made a tremendous difference in the lives of patients and staff.

“We’d all like to send an enormous heartfelt thank you to Sertoma,” Spirakis concluded. “This new piece of equipment helps ensure that children with hearing loss are receiving the best care possible. It’s truly a godsend.”


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