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Tuesday, 11 June 2002

NSW leads the world in treating deaf children

The new Cochlear Implant Program, based at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick and in partnership with The Shepherd Centre, is now able to provide streamlined treatment for deaf children.

The Minister for Health, Craig Knowles, today launched the new program highlighting the importance of continuity in care for deaf children.

A child born in NSW from December will have their hearing tested in the first few days of life as part of routine screening. A child who has a severe hearing loss will not only be detected earlier than ever before but will now be given access to the best hearing aids, language lessons and if indicated access to a world-leading Cochlear Implant program.

The Cochlear Implant Program will be headed by Dr Phillip Chang, one of Australia's most prominent ENT surgeons specialising in otology and base of skull surgery. He will be supported by teams from Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick and The Shepherd Centre.

'Families will now have the benefit of one program all within a public hospital. Children with hearing loss will be followed through with the same team of health professionals from detection, through to full assessment and if necessary to implantation', Dr Chang said.

'This will provide the best possible outcomes for these children at the earliest possible time'.

The Cochlear Implant Program serves as a unique model and is now being replicated nationally and internationally. It represents best practice in the treatment of children with severe hearing loss.

The Shepherd Centre now services the needs of families with deaf children across NSW and the ACT. The staff at The Shepherd Centre includes educationalists, audiologists and social workers working together from six centres. They have been developing their expertise in Cochlear Implants for many years.

'The combined expertise of a team from a leading NSW paediatric hospital and The Shepherd Centre now means that families with a child who is profoundly deaf and in need of a Cochlear Implant will have access to one of the finest programs in the world', Dr Chang added.

For Further Information Contact:

Catharina Boer, Public Affairs Manager Tel: 9382 3571 - Mob: 0411 730 842

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