A brand new, state-of-the-art audiology unit for children and young people at Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children has been declared officially open, following an £800,000 investment.
The new Children’s Hearing Centre includes two specialist treatment rooms – for newborn hearing screening and identifying hearing loss in infants – and has been packed with updated equipment and child-friendly touches throughout. Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles said: “We have created something very special with the new Children’s Hearing Centre – it is absolutely fantastic!
“From the moment you step inside, it is clear that a lot of thought and hard work has gone in to the project, and the result is a warm, friendly space, packed full of state-of-the-art equipment that will enable us to continue delivering high quality care to our young patients. I was delighted to be on-hand to help some of the children who use the unit cut the ribbon and declare it officially open – it was a real team effort!”
The Paediatric Audiology team provide an important service, diagnosing and treating hearing loss in babies, children and young people, as well as seeing children with balance problems and dizziness, tinnitus and hyperacusis (intolerance of everyday sounds). They also see children with autism and complex needs, and provide a monitoring service for patients whose hearing may be affected by certain drug therapies. Since the new centre opened its doors in April, the team has already seen 734 children in their new facilities – including performing 69 specialist hearing tests for babies (auditory brainstem response tests) and 147 hearing aid appointments.
Dr Simone Walter, Consultant Audiovestibular Physician, explained: “I am thrilled to be able to welcome everyone to the new centre! Our new home is a culmination of many years of work, and represents a very exciting time for us.
“Before opening the new facilities, adults and children were seen together in older facilities in one of the main buildings at St Helier Hospital. We now have a bright, friendly environment designed specifically for us – that means we have a space that is more welcoming for all children and allows us to better tailor our clinics to our children's needs, especially children with mobility difficulties.
“Along with my fellow consultants Dr Sriskandarajah, Dr Vijayanand and Dr Albuquerque, I’d like to thank everyone involved in this project, including the Estates Team, Lucie McLellan – Head of Paediatric Audiology, Nicola Charlton – Head of Adult Audiology, and the whole audiology team who have worked so hard to get the specialist equipment set up and clinics running smoothly. We would also like to thank the team in Queen Mary’s for welcoming us so warmly. We are really excited to be working here and are incredibly proud of our new centre.
“Finally, and most importantly, to the children we care for: we really hope you like the new centre – it has been built for you.”
Patients past and present were invited to take part in the celebrations, with the afternoon including face-painting, a mouth-watering array of food and drink, information about hearing aids and audiology, and a tour of the new centre. One particularly popular attraction was a special piece of equipment that gave people the chance to see the inside of their own ear. Head of Paediatric Audiology, Lucie McLellan, explained: “We wanted to make this a special occasion for everyone.
“We are so lucky to have very active local parent support groups, and input from local teachers of the hearing impaired. We were really pleased to see some of them at the official opening, as they have supported our hearing impaired children for many years.”
Daniel added: “It was truly inspiring to hear Simone and Lucie talk about their work with such passion and enthusiasm, and to hear them share their joy at having such a fantastic new facility for their children and colleagues.
“It was brilliant to see so many people come together to celebrate the opening of the new centre – it is clearly a service that means a great deal to a great many people.”