Every child born in Arizona gets a test that draws five drops of blood from the heel. Those samples come to the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory to screen for rare medical conditions. Each of these conditions can be treated, but parents need to get the information promptly. 

That’s where Fran Altmaier comes in.

As Health Program Administrator in the ADHS Office of Newborn Screening, Fran and her team follow up with families and providers to make sure infants whose results suggest they have these rare conditions have access to life-changing – and sometimes life-saving – treatment. 

Our ADHS Careers website at azhealth.gov/ADHSCareers features Fran’s work and opportunities to join her as a follow-up specialist with the Office of Newborn Screening. You also can see a video about her below. 

Follow-up specialists contact parents, some of whom are difficult to locate, to notify them about a child’s needs and to coordinate care. 

“Sometimes it’s really difficult to call a family with news that we know is going to turn their world upside down,” Fran says. “But we’re offering them solutions. We’re connecting them with doctors and resources and services that they need to take that next step.” 

Newborn Screening Follow-Up Case Managers  have the unique ability to help parents who are understandably overwhelmed by the news with the urgency of getting their child follow-up testing or care. At the end of the day, Fran and members of her team take satisfaction from helping protect the most vulnerable Arizonans. 

“Early treatment and early identification is the key to the best outcomes,” she says. “You really want to identify a baby before they’re symptomatic. Once they’re symptomatic, they’ll never regain those skills that they missed out on.”

The impact of Fran’s work was made abundantly clear when the State Laboratory was testing random blood samples for spinal muscular atrophy to validate an instrument. Two samples flagged positive. 

She identified the samples, contacted the providers, and helped coordinate insurance eligibility for treatment for one of those infants. Two children’s lives were changed forever. Within just a few months, every newborn in Arizona was being tested for spinal muscular atrophy.

“This isn’t a job for me,” Fran says. “It’s an opportunity to really make a difference.”

If public service is your calling, ADHS could be the place where you make a difference. Please visit azstatejobs.gov and search Dept of Health Services to see open positions.