Jessica wasn’t sure why her young daughter Mariah wasn’t responding as expected. Maybe it was autism, she thought.
Mariah’s pediatrician referred them to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Outpatient Care, Tampa, in 2011. Mariah was 3 and proved a difficult patient at first. She didn’t cooperate, didn’t always respond. But a hearing test indicated Mariah has moderately severe rising to moderate sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. She has trouble hearing low tones. It’s unclear what caused Mariah’s condition, which involves damage to hair cells in the inner ear and can be caused by certain diseases such as mumps or measles, excessive noise, low birth weight or certain medications.
A Johns Hopkins All Children’s ear, nose and throat specialist put tubes in Mariah’s ears in 2012, and she now wears hearing aids. Erin Brown, AuD, CCC-A, is a pediatric audiologist at Johns Hopkins All Children’s who has worked with Mariah for six-plus years, seeing her frequently at first but now about once a year.
“They were very patient with her when she wouldn’t cooperate at first,” says Jessica, who lives with Mariah, now 9, in Wimauma in east Hillsborough County near the Manatee County line. “Dr. Brown was amazing.”
Jessica is a restaurant manager at a Taco Bell in Brandon, where she has worked for nearly four years.
Sometimes Mariah’s hearing aids break and Jessica says the company is good about working with her when she needs time off to get replacements. “They’re very understanding,” she says.
Brian Ellerson is president and CEO at BDE Florida, which owns 20 Taco Bell franchises in the Tampa Bay and Sarasota areas and has plans to build six more. He also sits on the hospital’s Board of Trustees. He is trying to build on the relationship between his company and the hospital and has talked with Jessica about her daughter.
He believes supporting the hospital through philanthropy and serving on the board with other area business leaders builds relationships to benefit his employees, his customers and his business.
“Having a connection to one of the top pediatric hospitals in the country is great for this community and our company’s employees,” Ellerson says. “We are embedding ourselves throughout the Tampa Bay and Sarasota areas through relationships with leading brands such as Johns Hopkins All Children’s in a way that supports our team and our culture.”
With his growing knowledge of the expert services available through the hospital, Ellerson plans to guide more of his employees’ children to benefit from that care.
Close to Home
Mariah is progressing nicely. She has received some speech therapy through the Hillsborough County School District, and Brown says her hearing issue shouldn’t hold her back.
“With proper amplification, these kids are going to lead regular lives,” says Brown, who worked in the hospital’s Pasco County outpatient care location for 13 years before switching to the Tampa center. “We have access to technology that now allows children like Mariah to maximize their potential and auditory brain growth.”
Jessica is grateful to have access to Johns Hopkins All Children’s services through the outpatient care location on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in Tampa. It is one of multiple outpatient care locations the hospital offers in Hillsborough County along with providing more than 10 pediatric programs at Florida Hospital Tampa and neonatology services at Brandon Regional Hospital.
“Having expert care so close to home is a huge help for a working mother,” Jessica says. “They have provided fantastic care for Mariah, and we are so fortunate to have them here in our community. I’m glad to see my company is supporting Johns Hopkins All Children’s so it can help more kids and families.”