When baby Brodie’s first hearing test, at the Mater Hospital in Townsville as a newborn, showed a hearing impairment, his mum, Julie Dorries thought the family would be in for a raft of follow up tests, with thousands of kilometres of travel and days off work for her husband.
Midwives routinely perform hearing tests on newborn babies, and those who don’t ‘pass’ the hearing test in either one or both ears are referred on for further assessment with Health Hearing, Children’s Health Queensland Hospital or Townsville Hospital and Health Service.
Mrs Dorries lives in Boulia, far enough from Mount Isa, but a 3000km round trip from Boulia to Townsville.
Brodie’s follow up appointment was supposed to be in Townsville but when the north west experienced heavy rains in February and March this year, the roads were cut north of Mount Isa, so Mrs Dorries decided to try her luck with Mount Isa Hospital.
“I asked Townsville if the tests could be done at Mount Isa, and at first the answer was no, then it was yes, as I think they realised they could do TeleAudiology.
“That was a huge plus for us, as my husband is a cattle truck driver, and to get to Townsville, he would have had to have taken at least four days off work.
“I needed him to come with me as we have two children under two, so I couldn’t have coped by myself,” Mrs Dorries said.
The 300km trip to Mount Isa only necessitated one night away from home, and the test had a great result.
“The test at Mount Isa Hospital by Telehealth actually cleared him. He has no hearing impairment at all,” she said.
“The earlier result could have been caused by fluid in his ear, background noise, or something like that.
“It was a mammoth result for us, and we were home again by the afternoon.”
North West Hospital and Health Service (NWHHS) Telehealth Coordinator Kathy Tobin, said if the patient was suitable for a TeleAudiology appointment, the use of Telehealth technology enabled the patient to be seen locally, without the upheaval of travelling with a newborn.
“The appointments can last up to three hours, and are supported by NWHHS nursing staff or our local Audiology Assistant at the Mount Isa end, and a Senior Audiologist in either Brisbane or Townsville, who conducts the assessment.”
For Mrs Dorries, she is just thrilled Brodie’s hearing is fine, and relieved she didn’t have to travel all the way to Townsville to find out.