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When Rory failed his newborn hearing screening, his parents took him to M Health Fairview Minnesota Lions Children’s Hearing and ENT Clinic, one of the region’s most experienced pediatric otolaryngology and audiology programs.

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Backed by a team of hearing loss experts, 7-year-old Rory is reaching his full potential

Ten years after it first opened, the M Health Fairview Minnesota Lions Children’s Hearing and ENT Clinic has doubled in size, allowing our experts to better care for children like 7-year-old Rory McDermott.
  • May 14, 2021
  • By Staff Writer

Megan McDermott had a straightforward pregnancy, but after her son Rory was born in 2014, he failed his newborn hearing screening.

Tests revealed that Rory’s hearing loss was caused by a congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. McDermott, a middle-school teacher and literacy specialist, had caught CMV but didn’t know it. The infection seemed just like the colds she experienced each winter. For a developing fetus, however, the virus can cause a range of issues, including developmental delays and hearing loss.

Knowing that the ability to hear well was a crucial part early childhood development, the McDermott family moved quickly. Rory had his first appointment at the M Health Fairview Minnesota Lions Children’s Hearing and ENT Clinic when he was less than a month old.  

The Lions Children’s Hearing and ENT Clinic is one of the region’s most experienced pediatric otolaryngology and audiology programs. The clinic’s multidisciplinary team partners with families to help children with hearing loss reach their full potential. This spring, the clinic is celebrating its 10th anniversary – as well as a recent expansion that nearly doubled the size of the facility.


“Our program is the most experienced cochlear implant clinic in the Twin Cities area,” said M Health Fairview Audiologist Kristin Gravel, AUD, CCC-A, PASC. “We’re unique in that all of our audiology providers can handle the full spectrum of services, including diagnostic evaluations, hearing aids, and evaluation for cochlear implants.”


The clinic’s capabilities grew in 2020 with an expansion that added 4,000 square feet to the space – as well as an additional sound booth and other diagnostic equipment. Sound booths are a key part of the clinic’s care. Experts use them to conduct hearing assessments, to evaluate new and ongoing hearing loss, and to determine how each patient will benefit from medical intervention. The clinic is also getting a cheery cosmetic update, to reflect the bright spirits of the children our experts serve each day at the Lions Hearing & ENT Clinic.


“The otolaryngology and audiology practices gained valuable collaborative space, and our clinic now occupies the whole second floor of the Park Plaza Building next to M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital,” said Melisa Oblander, M Health Fairview’s system director of rehabilitation.

“This expansion sets us up for the next 10 years of clinical care,” said Pediatric Otolaryngologist Luke Jakubowski, MD, the medical director for the clinic and Rory’s doctor. “Now, we have a beautifully updated, even more family-friendly space to complement the comprehensive, leading-edge care we provide.”

The clinic’s renovated space helps our clinicians from the audiology and ENT teams collaborate, said the clinic’s audiology supervisor, Jennifer Ward, AuD. Close communication ensures that everyone has the information they need to evaluate each patients’ hearing, design the right treatment plan, monitor the patient for changes, and make adjustments over time as needed. The team also works closely with specialists from M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital in genetics, infectious disease, and other areas as needed. This approach results in the best possible treatment, as 7-year-old Rory’s story shows.

How is Rory doing today? Early identification of Rory’s hearing loss, coupled with the right treatment, minimized potential speech or language development delays. He recently gave a special presentation to his kindergarten class all about his hearing aids, explaining how they work and answering questions from his classmates. His progress has been remarkable.

“In Rory’s case, because we were able to identify the cause so early, we were able to be proactive rather than playing catch-up,” Gravel said. “We’re so grateful to the Minnesota Lions for their continued support, which helps us to deliver excellent outcomes for children.”

Rory’s mom, Megan, agrees. “Being an English and literacy teacher, I know how important it was to hear, and to be read to, and to have access to sound,” Megan said. “I am forever thankful to the whole team. They work together seamlessly, hand in hand.”