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Karen Markuson Ditty

Karen Markuson Ditty, AuD, FAA, CCC-A, is an EHDI pioneer and trailblazer working in the trenches as a clinician, practitioner and teacher. Her credentials for the Antonia Brancia Maxon award are summarized below.

At Woman's Hospital, Baton Rouge in 1991 she initiated newborn hearing screening for at-risk infants. Following the NIH Consensus Meeting in 1993, she tackled universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS) implementation. She was instrumental in passage of the 1999 UNHS Louisiana law. Karen branched out to introduce and manage UNHS programs in 10 divergent hospital nurseries across Texas. She learned where and where not to screen babies before there were such guidelines. She taught others to select appropriate screening environment and became the go-to audiologist in Louisiana and Texas on questions about screening, equipment and training.

Karen's work did not end at the nursery door. She did not have the luxury to leave next steps to others. With more than 60 presentations and publications to move EHDI forward, she organized comprehensive services for infants wherever she worked. She counseled and assured families of quality care by providing and interpreting audiologic evaluations. She recommended and assisted in development of treatment plans with health-care professionals including hearing aid assessment when the science and art of this field was still evolving. Karen understood best practices and the need to keep abreast of developments while she provided care for the infant and family in front of her. She kept learning and taught others what she had learned.

Karen's reputation led her to be tapped by NCHAM as an EHDI Technical Advisor for Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana. Karen:

  • coordinates the NCHAM pediatric diagnostic audiology workshops presented across the US and Puerto Rico
  • participated in development and dissemination of the Newborn Hearing Screening Training Curriculum (NHSTC), used by hospitals across the nation.
  • advises and consults on program quality, financing and sustainability in UNHS programs.

Karen assists the Texas Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program (TEHDI) assure follow-up for children who need additional care. She helps audiologists report follow-up services as legislated. Her relationships and acknowledged leadership make her an ideal representative to assist TEHDI improve its 1, 3, 6 metrics.

Thanks to her pioneer attitude, in 2012, one of "her" TEHDI hospitals became one of the first able to send Newborn Admission Notifications, (HL7 messages), for all births directly from the hospital's electronic health record to TEHDI's information system. Karen diligently worked with hospital IT and program staff and OZ Systems' TEHDI team to validate and verify messages. This accomplishment means that her program provides TEHDI with a timely and accurate denominator of hospital births.

It is therefore, timely that the Antonia Brancia Maxon award for outstanding services to the field of Early Hearing Detection, acknowledge Karen Ditty; a practitioner and clinician for her ongoing and broad-based contributions to EHDI quality and excellence, and as one of our outstanding EHDI leaders.