May 22nd marks the 15th anniversary of the opening of World Hearing and Speech Center (WHC). After seven years of collecting funds – mainly from own resources – by the team led by prof. Henryk Skarżyński – the World Hearing and Speech Center in Kajetany was built and put into operation. In May 2003 it was ready to receive its first patients and the several dozen person team was proudly saying: „finally on our own”. The official opening of the facility took place during the 7th International Conference of Implant Implants and Audiological Medicine. Several hundreds of guests from the world of science, politics, the Church and media came to Kajetany.
Krzysztof Zbytniewski, the editor of „Super Express” described this event: “(…) The health service is barely alive, and prof. Henryk Skarżyński opens the International Center of Hearing and Speech – a clinic of the 21st century near Warsaw. Not for the rich, but for all of us – ordinary patients. (…) This slim 49-year-old man sleeps 5.5 hours a day, eats lunch with his family only once a week. But he performs a dozen operations per day and restores hearing to people. At the same time, prof. Skarżyński “got in” over 43mln zlotys to build the Center. The most of this amount he made by himself and his young team. They work twice as much as in other hospitals do. And us, patients now have a “cosmic” clinic and proof that the Polish people can do things.”
From the beginning the special mission of the International Center was associated with our aspirations to be a part of European Union. The clinical program of the Center included an extensive cooperation with practically all European countries in regards to costs optimization and treatment results in relations to such issues as: deafness, hearing loss, speech disorders in stuttering people, voice disorders, tinnitus, dizziness and balance disorders, the reconstructive surgery to treat congenital and acquired malformations.
– On this round anniversary, we can proudly say that we have not missed a chance. Already in the first year of the International Center operation, exceptional events took place: I carried out the first implantation of a cochlear implant in a child with partial deafness and the first implant in the middle ear in Poland, the telemedicine program “Home Rehabilitation Clinic” was developed, we have launched a series of National Conferences for People with Tinnitus and Auditory Hypersensitivity – prof. Henryk Skarżyński recalls – Each subsequent year brought new challenges, great international scientific events and interesting research projects. Our scientific, research, implementation, didactic and organizational achievements are regularly awarded by Polish and international medical, economic and scientific communities, and even the media. I decided to use it, because we should always aim higher. That is how the World Hearing Center was created. From the beginning I saw it in many dimensions. Through scientific activity I wanted this institution to guarantee building a new image and position of Polish science and medicine in the world as well as showing new directions of development – says prof. Skarżyński
The opening was preceded by media meeting, when the mission of the International Center was presented, the scientific, clinical and didactic program presented, and the journalists had a chance visit this ultramodern facility.
The ceremonial opening was honored with presence of: prof. Wiesław Chrzanowski – Marshal of the Sejm, prof. Andrzej Stelmachowski – Marshal of the Senate, Bishop Alojzy Orszulik, prof. Barbara Błońska-Fajfrowska – Parliament Health Comission, dr Maciej Tokarczyk – Prime Minister’s representative and Deputy Minister of Health, Sergiusz Najar – Undersecretary at Infrastructure Ministry, Sylweriusz Królak – Undersecretary at Ministry of Justice, Marek Kossowski – Deputy Minister of Economy, Labor and Social Policy, Barbara Misterska-Dragan – Deputy Minister of the Treasury, Krzysztof Szamałek Ph. D. – State Sectretary at Ministry of Environment, Leszek Juchniewicz Ph. D. – President of the Energy Regulatory Office, Leszek Mizieliński – Mazovia Governor, Roman Sroczyński – PFRON President, J.E. Patrick Lawless – Ambassador of Australia in Poland, Ambassador Włodzimierz Konarski – Co-Chairman of Polish-German Cooperation Foundation, Zdzisław Góralczyk Ph. D. – Ambassador of Poland in China, prof. Ryszard Zimak – Rector of Fryderyk Chopin Music University in Warsaw, prof. Ryszard Tadeusiewicz – Rector of AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, prof. Leszek Pączek – Vice-Rector of Medical Academy in Warsaw, prof. Grzegorz Opolski, prof. Andrzej Strzelecki, prof. Stefan Kruś, prof. Walerian Staszkiewicz and many others. Among foreign guests – the world’s top otologists and audiologists from all continents, representatives of world and European scientific societies, the most important centers from Europe, America, Asia and Australia.
The editor Irena Fober also wrote about the phenomenon of the International Center of Hearing in the „Technical Review”: „We have a medical facility that the entire Europe can be jealous of. Opened couple of weeks ago in Kajetany near Warsaw, the center for people with speech and hearing disorders is one of the largest and most modern facilities in the world. If we are able to see the future, then we can say that it is the 21st century establishment. The Center can host about 500 patients in one day and perform several operations. 11 years ago after conducting the first operation in Central-Eastern Europe to restore hearing to a completely deaf person, the team of prof. Henryk Skarżyński found himself in the elite of world-wide otolaryngology – it was clear that something great had to be done to avoid wasting this achievement. (…) The center has its own water intake, a gas-oil boiler room and a local wastewater treatment plant. Although everything here – hotel rooms, bathrooms, buffet table, forest around, tennis courts and horses for hippotherapy sessions – looks like a clinic for very rich people, the medical care in the Center is available to everyone who just needs to have the family doctor’s referral.”
The late Maciej Tokarczyk – former Deputy Minister of Health – reading the letter from the Prime Minister during the opening ceremony said: „Congratulating Professor Henryk Skarżyński on creation of the International Center, I am truly convinced that the ambitious and comprehensive Center program, which is a continuation of the outstanding achievements of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, headed by Professor Henryk Skarżyński, will become an intended and long expected showcase of Polish medicine in Europe and in the world. (…)”
Particularly important moment of this ceremony was the unveiling of “Friends for all times” plates, which show that the International Center has many supporters who contributed to its creation both through organization and their authority. The commemorative board holds many names of great people.
There are among others: Polish Prime Ministers: Hanna Suchocka, Józef Oleksy, Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Waldemar Pawlak and Prof. Jerzy Buzek, Jolanta Kwaśniewska – „Porozumienie bez barier” Charity Foundation, Danielle Mitterand Foundation, Włodzimierz Konarski – The Foundation of Polish-German Cooperation, prof. Leszek Pączek – Rector of Medical Academy in Warsaw, prof. Ryszard Zimak – Rector of Fryderyk Chopin Music University in Warsaw, prof. Andrzej Czyżewski – Head of Sound and Vision Engineering Department of Gdańsk University of Technology, Zdzisław Stachura – Glass & Ceramics Institute Director, Ryszard Konwerski – President of PERN Group “Przyjaźń”, Medicine Development Foundation „Człowiek-Człowiekowi”: prof. Stefan Kruś, prof. Henryk Skarżyński, prof. Janusz Cianciara, Roman Chojnowski, prof. Jarosław Deszczyński, Jolanta Herman, Maciej Jesionek Ph.D., Waldemar Mysiak Ph.D., Michał Niemczyk Ph. D., prof. Grzegorz Opolski, prof. Janusz Piekarczyk, prof. Walerian Staszkiewicz, Stanisław Wójcikiewicz Ph.D., Leszek Sikorski – Minister of Health, prof. Aleksander Łuczak – Chairman of the Scientific Research Committee, Prof. Michał Kleiber – Minister of Science, Jan Krzysztof Frąckowiak Ph. D., – Secretary of the Committee for Scientific Research, prof. Wiesław Chrzanowski – Marshal of Sejm, prof. Andrzej Stelmachowski – Marshal of Senate, Fr. Bishop Alojzy Orszulik – Deputy Secretary of the Polish Episcopate, prof. Bronisław Geremek – Foreign Affairs Minister, Jacek Kuroń – Minister of Labor and Social Policy, dr Leszek Juchniewicz – President of the Energy Regulatory Office, Grażyna Andrzejewska-Sroczyńska – Government Plenipotentiary for Persons with Disabilities, Joanna Staręga-Piasek – Government Plenipotentiary for Persons with Disabilities, Roman Sroczyński – PFRON President, Leszek Mizieliński – Mazovia Governor, Jerzy Koźmiński – Podsekretarz Stanu Urzędu Rady Ministrów, Polish Ambassador, Zdzisław Góralczyk – Polish Ambassador, prof. Longin Pastusiak – Marshal of Senate, prof. Ryszard Tadeusiewicz – Rector of AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, prof. Krzysztof Szamałek – Secretary of State at Ministry of Environment, prof. Samuel Whitaker – Pacific Neuroscience Institute (Los Angeles, CA, USA), prof. Rudolf Probst – Universitatsklinik Basel, (Switzerland), MED.-EL GmbH – Innsbruck (Austria), Ingeborg Hochmair Ph. D., Prof. Erwin Hochmair – Universität Innsbruck (Austria), Cochlear Ltd. – Sydney (Australia), Basel (Szwajcaria), prof. Christoph von Ilberg – Universitätsklinik Frankfurt (Germany), prof. Ernst Lehrnhardt – Medizinische Hohschule (Hannover, Germany), prof. Jeane Marie Sterkers – Hospitaux de Paris, (France), prof. Józef Zwisłocki – Syracuse University (NY, USA), prof. Paul van den Broek – University Hospital Nijimegen (Holandia), prof. Goran Bredberg – Stockholm Soder Hospital (Sweden), prof. George Tavartkiladze – Research Center for Audiology and Hearing Rehabilitation Moscow (Russia), prof. Robert Behr – University of Marburg Fulda (Germany), prof. Milan Profant – Comenius University Bratislava (Slovakia), prof. James W. Hall – University of Florida (Gainesville, FL, USA), prof. Stefaan Peeters – Univeristy of Antwerp, (Belgium), prof. John D. Durrant – University of Pittsburgh (PA, USA); Artists for Children: Grażyna Auguścik, Danuta Błażejczyk, Gawęda, Reni Jusis, Andrzej „Piasek” Piaseczny, Ryszard Rynkowski, Tytus Wojnowicz, Julita and Paula Sokołowski, Jacek Wójcicki.
Today, the World Hearing Center is the showcase of Polish medicine. The achievements of the team are being recognized and rewarded by the highest authorities in Poland. The Center was visited by representatives of the government, parliament and foreign delegations as well as the First Ladies of Poland, Slovakia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Estonia. The Presidents of World and European Scientific Societies, Ambassadors of many countries in the world, also paid a visit to WHC.
During the last 15 year Professor Henryk Skarżyński has launched several dozen of pioneering implantation programs for new auditory implants, including: the first in Poland implantation of the auditory implant into the middle ear, the first in the world implantation of the cochlear implant in a child with partial deafness, the first in Poland implant and device application in one ear (Duo System), the world’s first bilateral implantation of brainstem implants, the first in Poland application of the SRA apparatus and implant system, the first in Poland, implantation of the newest middle and inner ear implants – the CODACS system, the first in Poland implantation of a pioneer implant BONEBRIDGE, the first implantation of the Baha® 4 Attract System2 hearing implant in Central and Eastern Europe, Poland’s first implantation of the Cochlear ™ MET® middle ear implant, Poland’s first implantation of a new generation of the type cochlear implant SYNCHRONY, which allows you to perform MRI, and then follow the changes in the brain after acoustic and electrical stimulation, the world’s first implantation of the Vibrant Soundbridge middle ear implant with LP-Coupler, the first HCT implantation in Europe Ultra with a new straight HiFocus SlimJ electrode, and the first in Poland and in parallel with five other centers in the world, implantation of Cochlear OSIA OSI100 auditory implants.
In practice, this means that Polish patients of the Center have access to the latest technologies as the first or one of the first in the world. This is a very tangible proof of the clinical and scientific position of the Center.
Currently, patients, doctors, scientists, students have over 20,000 m2 of space, where there are, among others: 6 operating rooms, several dozen diagnostic offices where several hundred patients are admitted daily, 2 multimedia studios of the first in the world of the National Teleaudiology Network, 7 conference rooms, where 800 people can be trained as well as the Education Center.
At the Center’s clinics, otolaryngologists, audiologists, phoniatricians, speech therapists, surdopedagogues, psychologists, clinical engineers and technicians provide and conduct more than 200,000 consultations and examinations annually. Since over 15 years, there are about 60-70 hearing-improving surgeries are carried out every day – that is the most in the world in the field of otorhinolaryngology, audiology and phoniatrics. Particularly noteworthy is the implantation of over 6,500 auditory implants, which places the center at the forefront of the world. Over 3.5 million people have already benefited from various forms of assistance. This is also a well-functioning and organized enterprise that gives work to over 450 employees.