We were invited to share our work at the US Consulate General of Vietnam today. I first met Kit, the Consulate PIO, when our program here in Vietnam was just getting started. We became fast friends, meeting several times during my trips here to talk about our work and share travel stories over many cups of coffee in the wonderful open-air plaza located outside their offices . When the Consulate approved our grant request — a real honor — Kit suggested that we fit into our schedule this summer the wonderful opportunity to present to consulate officials and the Vietnamese community.

About 80 people and our team gathered in the airy conference room on the 8th floor with picturesque windows of the old landmark French cathedral outside. Five of our team members who have been involved with our program from the start — Martha Harney, Judy Odendahl, Hillary Ganek, Helen Zuganelis, and Kim Hamren — each gave brief overviews of their respective professions, collectively building the story of how children with hearing loss can learn to listen and talk. I followed that with a perspective into the current landscape of pediatric hearing loss in Vietnam and explained how our program is helping to fill gaps in support and services for these children. It was a real treat to be able to share all our hard work from the past few years with such an esteemed audience.

Earlier in the day, our team’s audiologists and I toured the two hospitals in HCMC that offer pediatric audiology. It was gracious of the department heads to share their programs with us, and we had a productive afternoon sharing insights and ideas. Both hospitals are doing good things in spite of limited resources and capacity and I was inspired by their dedication and commitment to their work.

They recognize the value of newborn hearing screening but the limited number of trained professionals and equipment has made it difficult to expand the offering of audiology services to children. Their presentations gave us some valuable perspective about the services they provide, including hearing health care, audiology, hearing aid fitting, cochlear implant surgery, mapping, therapy support, and rehabilitation. Some of the staff from both hospitals are taking part in our workshop this summer at Thuan An Center and they expressed a real interest to have us expand our training offerings to include their clinics. This is something we’ll pursue as part of our mobile mission efforts.