pediatric audiology services were available in only 10 Alaskan communities, most of which are urban centers or located in “hub” communities in rural and remote areas. Hub communities are those centers of commerce where rural and remote village residents shop, bank, and seek professional and medical services. In 2007, a follow-up email survey of audiologists in Alaska indicates there are audiologists currently located in nine communities in Alaska; four of these providers are in private practice and the other five see specific populations – either Indian Health Service beneficiaries or military personnel and their dependents. Of the four groups in private practice, two are located in Anchorage, one in Juneau and one in Fairbanks. The Anchorage group provides itinerant services to communities without a resident audiologist and the audiologist in Juneau travels to other communities in Southeast Alaska. Five audiologists provide brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) diagnostic hearing tests, with only three locations, all located in Anchorage, capable of sedation. The audiologists also identified otolaryngology (ENT) coverage as an issue effecting access to sedated BAERs. Either ENT coverage is not consistently available, as indicated by military audiology in Fairbanks and Anchorage, or there is a two month wait for an appointment at the private facility in Anchorage, a concern raised by audiologists in private practice. This impacts timely clinical follow-up and diagnosis, however the audiologists mentioned above are all working with their facilities on plans to remedy this problem.
Family support and active family participation in the EHDI Program has been ongoing since 2002 when the Family Support Group was organized to serve as a review team for educational materials being developed by the EHDI Program. Upon completion of the review and printing of brochures and manuals for parents, the group discussed options for providing parent support to families of children with hearing loss. To assist with identifying a better vision and focus the group requested assistance from an already well established statewide parent organization in Alaska, the Stone Soup Group (SSG). In November 2006 the EHDI Program implemented a contract with the Stone Soup Group to provide Parent Navigation services to parents of infants/children identified with hearing loss or those who need assistance to navigate the EHDI system, starting at the time of a hearing screening refer. The Parent Navigator is a member of the EHDI Advisory Committee and provides a report at each meeting. The parent navigation report is used to identify system issues and barriers to meeting the National EHDI 1-3-6 Goals.