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Pediatrics Chief Honored by State Health Commissioner

New Britain [June 08 2006] - Dr. Antoinetta Capriglione Recognized as Champion of Early Hearing Detection.

Dr. Antoinetta “Toni” Capriglione, chief of pediatrics and director of the nurseries at New Britain General Hospital was recognized today for her leadership and advocacy for early hearing tests for newborns.

For many years, Dr. Capriglione has been a vocal advocate for having all newborns screened for hearing loss. In 1996, New Britain General became one of the first in Connecticut to provide this vital test to all newborns. As a member of a special state task force, she and colleague Jill Lombardi, RN, director of the hospital’s Sauer Family BirthPlace, pushed for the legislation to mandate newborn screening in Connecticut. It became law in 1997, and implementation was required by 2000, making Connecticut one of 36 states in the U.S. that has this important screening. She served as the American Academy of Pediatrics, Connecticut Chapter “Champion” for the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program.

Commissioner of Public Health Dr. J. Robert Galvin made a surprise visit to the hospital this morning to present Dr. Capriglione with a certificate of recognition for her “four years of outstanding commitment, dedication, and service as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EDHI) Connecticut Chapter Champion.”

“Connecticut has made great strides in attaining and surpassing the national EHDI goals… to assist all children in reaching their maximum potential,” Dr. Galvin’s letter reads. “Although this success was a combined effort of many, it would not have been possible without your involvement… and your tireless efforts of educating the pediatric health care providers on the benefits of early identification of infant hearing loss and the important of timely intervention services.”

No one was more pleased with this recognition than Lombardi, who has worked with Dr. Capriglione for 26 years. “She is just awesome to work with. She inspires the whole team to go to the next level. We are always looking for ways to improve things for our patients. She is one of the reasons I have been here so long.”

Dr. Capriglione emphasized their success in implementing infant hearing programs has been the result of a team effort and would not have happened without the “can-do attitude of the nursing staff.”

With more than 2000 deliveries a year, and the two-day period of a normal hospital stay, one of the early problems was logistical. “There were many in our field who thought that this simply could not be done,” said Dr. Capriglione. She and her team wrote protocols, developed a system, and put it into practice. “We served as a model. It was a significant interdisciplinary undertaking. It culminated with the work on the task force,” she said.

Dr. Capriglione explained that much has changed in the past 10 years. The system of testing and the technology to do it have been improved. The actual screening takes only five minutes, but this must be done when the baby is at least 18 hours old, in stable condition, and calm and content. The results of the screening are now reported to the State, so a baby with problems can’t so easily slip through the cracks.

She cautioned that newborn screenings are only a first step. If a possible problem is detected, more sophisticated screenings are performed until the exact nature of the problem is diagnosed. The average age for hearing loss detection used to be between two and three years of age. Now, the standard is to have children identified by 6 months.

“We’ve had some great successes here — we had a child fitted with hearing aids by three months a few years ago. That obviously made a huge difference in the life of that child and of her family.” What makes Capriglione and her team proud is not recognition, but the fact that one more baby will hear and have the chance for a normal childhood.

Contact: Corporate Communications, 860-224-5900 x6507

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