Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Morton, Scholl Team Up to Test Hearing in Oklahoma

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Morton, Scholl Team Up to Test Hearing in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

It's just a small modular booth, roughly 8 feet by 7. But it promises tremendous expansion for Tulsa's Morton Comprehensive Health Services and for the Scholl Center for Communication Disorders by connecting audiology examinations to a patient base in vital need.

"The most affected population for hearing loss is generally the lower socially economic population," said Jacque Scholl, founder of the 6-year-old communications clinic bearing her name. "Most of our babies who are born with hearing loss are also from that same population."

While her center has more than quadrupled in size since its 2008 start and expanded to Bartlesville while adding five other service points, Scholl said she has a difficult time reaching and maintaining contact with some lower-income patients. Many of them may not have transportation resources to even reach her clinics.

Setting up shop in Morton's largest facility helps solve both of those issues while bringing audiology services to its patients. As one of Oklahoma's 19 federally qualified health centers, or FQHCs, Morton handled 70,000 billable patient visits last year, many of those to the poor and uninsured. When factoring in other services, such as transportation, annual patient services jump to 150,000.

"This will just fit right in with all our preventive care services," said Dr. Laura Dempsey-Polan, Morton's chief of community and systems development. "Across the lifespan, hearing issues can bring a lot of difficulty in a person's life.

"To screen and be able to determine what type of hearing issue may be interfering with a person's life can be lifesaving at times, both in the workplace and their development as a human being," she said.

While the collaboration with Scholl begins this month with audio testing, Morton Chief Executive John M. Silva said it may eventually expand into speech therapy.

"It would be our hope," Dempsey-Polan said, pointing to Morton's initial six-month test with Scholl.

With the booth's installation Friday, Scholl said three audiologists from her 4415 S. Harvard Ave. hearing center will soon begin seeing patients two afternoons a week at north Tulsa's Morton Comprehensive Health Center, 1334 N. …

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