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Early Childhood Screenings Offered with Support from The Blue Ribbon Foundation

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By: Christine Zavaskas
June 18, 2014
Pictured at the check presentation, seated from left, are Christine Zavaskas, grant and program specialist, The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and Dr. Glenn Tellis, chair, Department of Speech-Language Pathology, Misericordia University; standing, Lori Cimino, clinical director; Adina Rosenthal, clinical supervisor, and Ann Roman, clinical supervisor, all of Misericordia University.

A hearing assessment program for at-risk preschool children will begin in the fall thanks to support from The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Misericordia University received an $11,026 grant from The Blue Ribbon Foundation that will enable it to provide free hearing screenings and intervention services at Head Start Centers in Luzerne County. Graduate speech-language pathology students, under the direction of licensed faculty, will provide the screenings.

About 300 preschool children will be screened and those who are identified as having possible communication disorders or delays will receive referrals to low- or no-cost services for further evaluation and treatment at the Misericordia University Speech-Language and Hearing Center.

“In Luzerne County, nearly 2,230 children have a speech and language disorder, but a majority of these children are not benefiting from specialized services critical to their development. The first part of this process is the identification of needs through screenings and evaluations,” said Glen Tellis, Ph.D., chair, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and interim dean of the Misericordia University College of Health Sciences. “We are grateful to The Blue Ribbon Foundation for making it possible for us to provide these important screenings to local Head Start students.”

The Misericordia University Department of Speech-Language Pathology has been providing clinical opportunities to regional clients with communication disorders since 2003 in the Speech-Language and Hearing Center in John J. Passan Hall at 100 Lake St., Dallas Borough. To date, more than 2,900 children, adolescents, adults and elderly have been treated at the clinic by students and faculty members. Faculty and students in the program have treated and improved the functional capacity of youngsters diagnosed with stuttering, autism, PDD, Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, speech and language delays, apraxia, hearing impairment, voice disorders, swallowing disorders, and other conditions. Because of financial hardship or lack of clinical resources, some clients visit the center from as far away as 2½ hours away to access the specialized services that are administered at minimal cost to the clients.

For more information about the Misericordia University Speech-Language and Hearing Center or the Speech-Language Pathology program, please log on to or call (570) 674-TALK. Founded and Sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924, Misericordia University is Luzerne County’s first four-year college and offers 37 academic programs on the graduate and undergraduate levels in full- and part-time formats. 

About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.  BCNEPA offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to more than 540,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.  The company’s mission is to provide integrated health care services and products to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of health care in the populations it serves. 

BCNEPA established its private, nonprofit Blue Ribbon Foundation in 2002 to invest in health education and prevention initiatives that produce measurable health improvements and help manage long-term health costs for the residents of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.  In more than a decade of service, The Foundation has awarded more than $10 million in grant funding to 195 nonprofits to help meet the health and wellness needs of more than 193,000 at-risk individuals.