Story by Steve Parker
Yokosuka Navy Base, Japan – Sailors from United States Naval Hospital (USNH) Yokosuka Directorate of Public Health visited The Sullivans School, Ikego Elementary School and Yokosuka Middle School, on board Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka to perform vision and hearing screening tests on many of the students during the month of January, 2016,. The annual visits are welcomed by the school and the community and the visits support a key element in the Department of Defense Education Activity’s (DoDEA) Community Strategic Plan, highest student achievement.
According to Cmdr. Brian C. Hatch, Director, Health Care Business, USNH Yokosuka, “Vision and hearing screenings do not replace comprehensive evaluation, but are very efficient and cost-effective methods to help identify children with visual and auditory impairments. These screenings have become annual evolutions here at Yokosuka’s DoDEA which is comprised of some of the most diverse and populous schools in the DoDEA enterprise. In order to effectively screen such a large student population Naval Hospital Yokosuka Audiology and Optometry departments team efforts with the Schools’ Nursing staff. School nurses at the middle and elementary schools utilize a year-round screening program which is augmented by the Naval Hospital staff to target the most vulnerable populations. During a six-day period 870 students were screened at the Ikego and Sullivans Elementary Schools and the Yokosuka Middle School this academic year. Very few students are found to have hearing deficiencies that were not previously identified, however, 15-17 percent of screened students fail the vision screening due to the dynamic changes their eyes undergo during developmental years. The vision screening results are then cross-walked with a medical record review which typically yields a 10-12 percent referral rate for the students who are encouraged to receive a comprehensive vision exam. 80 percent of the learning process for a child is achieved through their vision making consistent monitoring and screening an important part of a child’s healthcare experience in addition to periodic routine vision and hearing examinations.”
Sullivans School Nurse, Shawn Bogen, who coordinated the visit with the Directorate, told this story of why she helps arrange the visits year after year, “There was one student I will never forget, he got glasses for the first time from a screening visit and his mom told me later about his reaction when he discovered that trees had leaves. She told me that he just stood staring up at the trees for the longest time.”
Lt. Alaina Simmons, USNH Yokosuka Audiologist, and one of the sailors who visited the school, stated, “Audiology and vision screening tests are essential for ensuring communication needs and academic excellence are achieved.
Finally, a message for the USNH Directorate of Public Health from the students, teachers and nurses of the Yokosuka complex of schools, “Thank you for your time, your energy and your commitment to our students and our community.”