One of the fundaments of the modern society is the extraordinary development of interpersonal contacts, availability and exchange of information, progress in technology and information instruments.
An important qualification for that progress is the degree of development and use of the organs of hearing, voice and speech and of the language communication. Thus all scientific and medical activities in that field acquire higher importance. For the last twenty years development of our abilities to prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate hearing, voice and speech disorders has been the effect of work of various specialists in the fields of acoustics, bioengineering, cybernetics, pedagogy, genetics, audiology, phoniatrics, otolaryngology, rehabilitation and others.
Our multidisciplinary team contributed largely to that progress. It has the intensive collaboration with numerous Polish and foreign research centers on all continents. That efficient scientific exchange has been formalized in various associations, teams and research groups.
One of our scientific and medical challenges was carrying out the first in Poland and in Central and East Europe surgery restoring hearing to the totally deaf person. The surgery was performed by prof. H. Skarzynski on July 16, 1992. That event was an extremely strong incitement for implementing in Poland further progressive technologies, materials and programs. Very quickly this specialty in Poland has matched the level of the best international centers. It was thanks to many factors, such as:
a) an enormous public interest reflecting the scale of this problem in the society;
b) determined organizational activities including the launch, by prof. H. Skarzynski in 1993, of the second of that type in Europe, the Diagnostic-Treatment-Rehabilitation Center for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired „Cochlear Center”, and later on its basis, the research and development unit – the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing in 1996;
c) healthcare system reforms that, although not fully satisfactory for everyone, enabled verification of actual demand for different modern medical services and created a chance to open in the Institute new clinics and research teams.
Continuous development and progress, that are necessary to maintain fast participation in contemporary world’s achievements in science in medicine, depend on the development of R&D, clinical and particularly IT infrastructure. All these elements have been taken into consideration while constructing and organizing, following the initiative and project of prof. H. Skarzynski, the new healthcare and research and development unit on the measure of the 21st century – the International Center of Hearing and Speech in Kajetany near Warsaw.
The particular mission of the World Hearing Center is tied to our chances and aspirations in the united Europe. The ORL Clinic teamperforms the largest number of hearing improving surgeries in the world every year. Moreover, new programs has been launched:
a) research of new, universal methods of early detection and intervention in cases of hearing, voice, speech and balance disorders;
b) introducing in Poland new tools and methods of diagnostics and therapy in collaboration with several centers in Austria, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland and USA;
c) diffusing on the international forum our original achievements, implemented for the first time in modern medicine, such as the treatment of the partial deafness.
Clinical program of the entire team of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing encompasses the wide cooperation with all EU countries regarding the optimization of costs and effectiveness of therapy in relation to such problems as: deafness and profound hearing loss, speech disorders in stuttering, voice disorders, tinnitus, vertigo and balance dysfunctions, possibilities of the reconstructive surgery in treatment of the congenital and acquired ear malformations.
Particularly important from the point of social and economic point of view was the educational program developed in the Institute, including education of specialists in different fields, parents, family and caregivers, especially of children with hearing and speech disorders, and adults with tinnitus and balance disorders. Unprecedented effectiveness of these activities was aided by the wide-scale implementation of new and economical methods of communication with involved parties through the internet during:
a) regular distance learning programs including universal lectures and trainings was well as individual tailor-made programs of e.g. home rehabilitation;
b) regular communication with interested specialists during the long-term continual education programs with participation of the most prominent world’s specialists in each field;
c) popularizing regular, open as well as tailor-made to order specialist consultations on-line for patients;
d) further widening of the teleconsultations’ system, presently implemented on a micro scale in the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, even now bringing unparalleled therapeutical and economic results for the healthcare system and for patients;
e) regular presentations of new, tested, economically justified diagnostic and therapeutic standard procedures, which have a great influence on popularization of knowledge and formation of the health awareness;
f) popularizing the Institute’s achievements during the presentation surgeries performed prof. H. Skarzynski and his team in special courses Window Approach Workshop and presentation of surgical techniques during the global LION meetings.
An exceptional achievement of the program developed for the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing is that many eminent scientists from the entire world decided on opening the regular cooperation and joined the Institute’s Scientific Board and – what is particularly important – are looking to conduct joint research, implementation and clinical projects with the Institute in Poland. It is an unparalleled chance for new discoveries though confronting the enormous material available in Poland with the experience of leaders of EU research and development programs. It is a great opportunity for showing our abilities to the united Europe, especially in the field of widely understood rehabilitation. In the fields of diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation of the disorders of hearing, voice, speech and balance we have already achieved a lot. In order to facilitate the acquisition of the EU funds and to promote Polish science abroad, we undertook such initiatives as:
a) preparation and signing, in Warsaw, of the European Scientific Consensus Statements on early detection of hearing, voice, speech and vision disorders;
b) popularizing the idea of the Institute in Poland in such way as to not waste time for pointless discussions ‘is it worthwhile?’, ‘are we able to?’, ‘can we afford it in such difficult time? etc.;
c) with the significant participation of the media the history of the creation of the World Hearing Center should be publicized as the example of the efficient organization of the modern Polish healthcare program and the real transformation
The accomplishment of these goals is not only a positive prognostics for the further development and integration, but also, what is more important, is should be an opportunity to make room for the civic initiatives in this field. For many visitors of the World Hearing Center is was hard to believe that a unit with such an comprehensive program of activities was created, more, that it was created outside so-called central investments, using only own means with help from the EU funds.
The above presented outline of information about this unique on a global scale unit is not exaggerated. Best tools must find the right hands. Our invariable custom is to publicize our plans in advance, to make possible future judgment of our works. Thus openness should be considered in relation to our many past undertakings that had also been publicized in advance though the media. We did so a week before the first in Poland cochlear implantation, before first in Poland (and fourth worldwide) brainstem implantation. We presented life on the internet the first in the world cochlear implantation in partial deafness and first in the world bilateral implantation of the auditory brainstem implants.
More than a 150 years ago two brothers named Mayo opened a small hospital in the city Rochester, MN. Today, the Mayo Clinic is one of the largest, most modern medical centers in the world, employing more than 40 thousand physicians, nurses and numerous specialists in fields related to healthcare. Today it is a hospital-city, setting the directions of development of various specialties on modern medicine.
Is the World Hearing Center going to become Polish Mayo Clinic? It is dependent on many factors. However, 7 years ago, the chief of ENT Department of the Mayo Clinic Prof. Thomas McDonald visited the Center in Kajetany to unveil his ‘Friend Forever’ plaque. He then said that comparing the beginnings of the Mayo Clinic and our Center, we were better. Evaluating our abilities and chances he predicted that we should achieve the heights of the world’s medicine. The scientist of such rate, and the founder of several thousands of grants every year, did not speak such worlds out of courtesy. We substantiate his words with our hitherto achievements; the World Hearing Center is a proof of our success. We are open to the world. We initiated the idea of the global network of specialist medical centers. The first one, but not last, is in Kajetany, near Warsaw, in Poland, in Europe.