March 8-10, 2020 • Kansas City, MO


The 2020 Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for EHDI Excellence will be presented at the 2020 National EHDI Meeting in Kansas City, MO. This award honors the life and work of Dr. Antonia Brancia Maxon to promote effective Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs for all newborns, infants, and young children. Dr. Maxon was a pioneer in EHDI programs, beginning with her leadership in the Rhode Island Hearing Assessment Project in the late 1980's. She was one of the first to recognize the feasibility and value of universal newborn hearing screening and was a tireless advocate for connecting screening programs with timely and appropriate diagnosis and early intervention.

Her extensive contributions to creating excellent EHDI programs were abruptly ended by a tragic automobile accident in May of 2007. In memory of her contributions, an Award for EHDI Excellence is presented each year at the National EHDI Meeting to honor an individual who has made outstanding contributions to achieving excellence in EHDI programs nationally or in a particular state or region.

Presentation of the 2020 Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for EHDI Excellence will be made on Monday March 9, 2020 at the National EHDI Meeting in Kansas City, MO. More about the National EHDI Meeting, including past nominees and recipients can be found below.

<< Back

Brenda Balch

As a mother who didn't know about cytomegalovirus (CMV) until my daughter was born severely disabled by congenital CMV in 1989, I nominate Dr. Brenda Balch for the 2019 Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for EHDI Excellence. Ever since we met in 2014, I've seen her work tirelessly to help prevent the kind of suffering my daughter endured. Prior to our collaboration, I couldn't get Connecticut policy makers to listen to me, a non-medical professional.

Dr. Balch has been the AAP EHDI Connecticut Chapter Champion since 2006 and Regional Network Liaison for District I since 2015. She was instrumental in passing Connecticut House Bill 5525: "An Act Concerning Cytomegalovirus". She testified in support of the legislation and visited the capitol several times. In 2015, Connecticut became the second state to require newborns who fail their hearing screen be tested for CMV. Many healthcare professionals have since learned about CMV. Dr. Balch helped the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) implement the law by:

  1. Creating CMV content for DPH website: https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Family-Health/EHDI/CMV.
  2. Revising the Hospital Service Delivery Flow Chart to reflect additional CMV steps.
  3. Updating Connecticut's hearing test brochure for families to include information on CMV testing and prevention.

Collaborating with DPH, Dr. Balch:

  • Created resource sheets for pediatric care providers, "The Role of the Primary Healthcare Provider in Cytomegalovirus Screening" and "Follow Up Recommendations and Monitoring."
  • Created a Fact Sheet for OB/GYNs and a Parent brochure, both emphasizing CMV prevention:
  • Worked with the National CMV Foundation to add the CT DPH logo to "Are You Pregnant" National CMV Awareness Flyer.

Dr. Balch continues educating the public about CMV, particularly child care providers unaware of their occupational hazard. She co-authored a study with doctoral students of audiology at the University of Connecticut entitled, "National Child Care Provider's Awareness of Congenital Cytomegalovirus". To help me in my CMV efforts, she:

  • Appears on TV to discuss CMV.
  • Co-authored my poster, "Increasing Child Care Provider Awareness of Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV)" for the CMV Public Health and Policy Conference, Vermont (September 2018).
  • Accompanied me to visit a local child care director and the consulting nurse to discuss CMV and how to educate their workers.
  • Actively created educational materials as a member of the Child Care Providers Education Committee, National CMV Foundation.

Regarding her EHDI work, she:

  1. Serves as CT EHDI coach for Connecticut Pediatricians' for the American Board of Pediatrics, Part 4 Quality Improvement Project on Infants with hearing loss.
  2. Developed and implemented a unique Physician-to-Physician Coaching Project supporting EHDI initiatives.
  3. Provided physician education on infants/children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing in primary care offices through the Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC) program.
  4. Presented at the annual EHDI conference in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017.

Through unrelated, Dr. Balch also participates in multiple medical missions internationally with non-government agencies and in the US as a Medical Officer for the National Disaster Medical System.