The history of the place and people

The World Hearing Center in Kajetany is the facility without equivalent in any other country. The history of this place began 20 years ago, when the Diagnostic-Treatment-Rehabilitation Center for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired ‘Cochlear Center’ – the first facility of this kind in Poland and second in Europe – was opened. It laid the foundations for the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing established in 1996, and later for the International Center of Hearing and Speech opened in Kajetany near Warsaw in 2003. In 2012 this Center was significantly extended to create the World Hearing Center.

Poland’s pioneer cochlear implantation of a deaf person, performed by Prof. Henryk Skarżyński in 1992, was not only a new opportunity for thousands of deaf patients in our country, but also it became the symbolic start of the program of treatment of total and – since 2002 – partial deafness in the modern world. The enormous interest of thousands of patients was the incentive for further activities which resulted in creation – following the idea, program and guidelines of Prof. Henryk Skarżyński – of new facilities unique on a national and global scale. The ‘Cochlear Center’ – the second facility of this kind in Europe – gave rise not only to the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing but also the World Hearing Center, which was opened last year.

The first year of work of Prof. Skarżyński and his team was very hard, also because of insufficient working space. Only one small room and a nook in the corridor for rehabilitation treatment was for the disposal of physicians and other researchers. These difficult conditions motivated Prof. Skarżyński to elaborate the guidelines for creation of a new facility within one month. It was a diagnostic-rehabilitation center where deaf and hard-of-hearing could find adequate care. After long and exhausting peregrinations through various offices and institutions, thanks to the invaluable help of Minister Jacek Kuroń, a meeting was organized between Prof. Skarżyński and Zbigniew Miłek, the President of the State Fund for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (PFRON). Thanks to this liaison it became possible to put into practice Skarżyński’s idea about building a hearing center from scratch. Before however, also thanks to the cooperation with PFRON, it had become possible to settle in a housing estate, which, among others, was also the seat of PFRON. Within 3 months, the rooms were refurbished to open the Diagnostic-Treatment-Rehabilitation Center for the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired ‘Cochlear Center’. The opening event took place on the day of the first anniversary of the first cochlear implantation of a partially-deaf person in Poland. Among invited guests there were Hanna Suchocka, the Polish prime minister between 1992-1993, and many ministers from her cabinet, i.a. Jerzy Koźmiński, Grażyna Andrzejewska-Sroczyńska, Commissioner responsible for the disabled, bishop Alojzy Orszulik, Bohdan Jastrzębski, Warsaw Voivode.

The opening of the Center was a huge success. In those times, the establishment of an institution of such international importance was possible due to the fact that Poland opened itself to the world, new solutions, needs, and mostly due to professor Hanryk Skarżyński’s initiative to start two non-governmental organizations: the Foundation for Medical Development ‘Humo-Homini’ in 1990 and the Association of Friends of the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired in 1992. Both organizations officially gave rise to the Diagnostic-Treatment-Rehabilitation Center for the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired ‘Cochlear Center’. One of first most important equipment for the ‘Cochlear Center’ was a surgical microscope offered personally by the President of France Danielle Mitterrand.

The Founder and Director of the ‘Cochlear Center’, professor Hanryk Skarżyński, was striving obstinately to prevent the huge scientific and clinical success – i.e. the earlier implementation of deafness treatment program in Poland – from being wasted. He wanted to secure the first group of operated patients with interdisciplinary care and to access to the newest achievements already implemented in the world. He desired to show to the world that Poles are not worse – that they know how to build a modern institution from scratch and how to manage it competently. The ambiance during the event of the opening of the Center at Grójecka Street in Warsaw was very pleasant.

Already after few months the ‘Cochlear Center’ could receive over 30 patients and perform approx. 200 specialist medical examinations daily. The hearing impaired who underwent surgical treatment were secured with good medical care, proper rehabilitation of hearing and speech.

After three years of its functioning, the ‘Cochlear Center’ exemplified not only the success in hearing disorders treatment, but also a significant scientific, didactic and organizational output. As a proof of recognition, the Minister of Health and Social Care, Jacek Żochowski in agreement with the Minister of Finance, Grzegorz Kołodka and the Chairman of the Natioanl Committee for Scientific Research, Aleksandr Łuczak have brought into existence the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing.

The Institute was built from the scratch according to the ideas, plans, and guidelines of a small team of scientists, doctors, engineers and other specialists supervised by professor Henryk Skarżyński. It was a great challenge. Parallel with the adaptation of a new seat of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, preparations for the construction of the permanent seat had begun. The idea to establish a super-modern, spacious, excellently equipped medical center was developed by Prof. Henryk Skarżyński already in 1992. 5 years later, the Foundation of Medical Development ‘Homo-Homini’ began to build a new seat of the Institute in Kajetany, near Warsaw. The foundation act on building the International Center of Hearing and Speech was signed by: prof. Józef Zwisłocki, a grandson of the President Ignacy Mościcki, Honorary President of the International Science Committee, prime minister of Poland in 1995-1996, Józef Oleksy, president of PFRON, Karol Świątkowski, and prof. Hanryk Skarżyński.

The International Center of Hearing and Speech in Kajetany was built after six years of collecting money, which mainly came from resources earned by the managing team of the Institute and professor Henryk Skarżyński. In May 2003 the Center was ready to receive first patients. Its solemn opening took place during the 7th International Conference on Cochlear Implants and Audiological Medicine. Kajetany hosted many guests – people of science, politics and church. Among them there were: prof. Wiesław Chrzanowski, Marshal of the Sejm, prof. Andrzej Stelmachowski, Marshal of the Senate, bishop Alojzy Orszulik, prof. Barbara Błońska-Fajfrowska, chair of the Health Committee of the Sejm, dr. Maciej Tokarczyk, representative of the Prime Minister, Vice-Minister of Health, Sergiusz Najar, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Sylweriusz Królak, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Justice, Marek Kossowski, Vice-Minister of Economy, Labor and Social Policy, Barbara Misterska-Dragan, Vice Minister of State Treasury, dr. Krzysztof Szamałek, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Environmental Protection, dr. Leszek Juchniewicz, President of Energy Regulatory Office, Leszek Mizieliński, Masovian Voivod, Roman Sroczyński, President of the Board of PFRON, Patrick Lawless, Ambassador of Austria in Poland, Ambassador Włodzimierz Konarski, Co-President of the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, dr. Zdzisław Góralczyk, Polish Ambassador in China, prof. Ryszard Zimak, Rector at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music, prof. Ryszard Tadeusiewicz, Rector at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Prof. Leszek Pączek, Deputy Rector of the Medical University of Warsaw, Prof. Grzegorz Opolski, Prof. Andrzej Strzelecki, Prof. Stefan Kruś, Prof. Walerian Staszkiewicz. Among gusts from abroad there were leaders in otology and audiology from all continents.

Only in the first year from establishing this international Center several momentous events took place: prof. Skarżyński performed the first in the world cochlear implant surgery in a partially deaf child and the first in Poland middle ear implantation, ‘Home Rehabilitation Clinic’ telemedical program had been developed, a series of National Conferences for Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Patients was commenced. Those achievements pertaining to the science, research, implementation of new solutions, education and organization of many events and establishments were awarded over 100 times by Polish and international medical, economic and scientific societies, and also the media.

One of the reasons to establish the World Hearing Center was growing demand for a scientific and clinical base which would belong to the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing. As early as in 2003, money for own financial contribution started to be raised and efforts were made to find other solutions to finance the undertaking, i.a. the Innovative Economy Operational Program. Towards the end of 2003, the Institute received EU grant in the amount that could cover 2/3 of costs: 1/3 was own resources. Many prominent people in politics and science came to participate in the ceremony of signing the foundation act on building the World Hearing Center, i.a. Minister Adam Fronczak – Ministry of Health, Prof. Michał Kleiber – President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Dr. Jacek Paszkiewicz – President of the National Health Fund, Dr. Henryk Smolarz – President of the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund, Prof. Leszek Rafalski – President of the Main Council of the Research Institutes, Prof. Włodzimierz Kurnik – Rector of the Warsaw University of Technology, Prof. Marek Krawczyk – Rector of the Medical University of Warsaw, Prof. Stanisław Moryto – Rector of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music, Roman Danielewicz M.D., Ph.D. – Ministry of Health, Prof. Andrzej Górski – Vice-president of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Barbara Misińska – National Health Fund, Stanisław Stelmach – Ministry of Health, Barbara Szołtyk – Polish Academy of Sciences, Prof. Andrzej Trzebski – Polish Academy of Sciences, Jan Kołodziejski – Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Grzegorz Puścion – Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Prof. Maciej Żylicz – President of the Foundation for Polish Science, Prof. Andrzej Członkowski – Chairman of the Foundation for the Development of Polish Science, Prof. Henryk Szymczak – Polish Academy of Sciences, Ryszard Konwerski – President of the Polish Business Club, Janusz Cieślak – Vice-President of the Polish Business Club, Prof. Wojciech Noszczyk – Medical University of Warsaw, Dr. Olaf Gajl – Director of the National Information Processing Institute, Prof. Jerzy Woy-Wojciechowski – President of the Polish Medical Society, Robert Zawadzki – National Health Fund, Prof. Stanisław Orkisz – Director of the Medical Examination Center, Prof. Dariusz Jurkiewicz – Military Institute of Medicine, Prof. Jan Maria Wójcicki – Nałęcz Institute of Biocybernetics and Biomedical Engineering, Prof. Stefan Kruś – Foundation for the Development of Medicine, Andrzej Włodarczyk M.D. – Director of the Institute of Rheumatology, Prof. Danuta Koradecka – Director of the Central Institute for Labour Protection, National Research Institute, Waldemar Roszkiewicz – Vice-Marshal of the Mazowieckie voivodeship, Mieczysław Szatanek – President of the District Medical Chamber in Warsaw, Prof. Jerzy Jurkiewicz – President of the Warsaw Medical Society, Marek Bykowski – Chancellor of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music, Prof. Jan Szmidt – Warsaw University of Technology, Prof. Mieczysław Muraszkiewicz – Warsaw University of Technology, Prof. Krzysztof Kurzydłowski –Warsaw University of Technology, Prof. Andrzej Czyżewski – Gdańsk University of Technology, Prof. Józef Lubacz – Warsaw University of Technology, Prof. Krzysztof Opolski – University of Warsaw, Prof. Tadeusz Pałko – Warsaw University of Technology, Prof. Bolesław Samoliński – Medical University of Warsaw, Prof. Leon Gradoń – Warsaw University of Technology, Prof. Roman Maniewski – Nałęcz Institute of Biocybernetics and Biomedical Engineering, Prof. Władysław Torbicz – Nałęcz Institute of Biocybernetics and Biomedical Engineering, Prof. Mieczysław Szostek – Medical University of Warsaw, Prof. Tadeusz Tołłoczko – Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences, Prof. Krzysztof Zaremba – Warsaw University of Technology, Prof. Wiesław Sułkowski – Institute of Occupational Medicine, Prof. Bożena Kostek – Gdańsk University of Technology, Janusz Grzyb – Mayor of the Nadarzyn municipality, Lidia Rudzka – Director of the Regional and Independent Psychiatric Center in Pruszków, Adam Piskorz – Police Headquarters in Nadarzyn, Dariusz Drzewiecki – District Headquarters of the National Fire Service in Pruszkow, Prof. Marek Rogowski – Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, Mirosław Górecki – Director of the District Sanitary-Epidemiological Station in Pruszków, Elżbieta Smolińska – Prefect of the Pruszków district.

The World Hearing Center, which was built in a record-breaking pace of several months, provides complex treatment to patients with congenital and acquired hearing, voice, speech and balance disorders. The process of building the World Hearing Center, which was a unique venture, was finished on May 10, 2012.

Among guest invited for the opening ceremony there were: Marshal of the Seym Ewa Kopacz, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Minister of Health Bartosz Arlukowicz, Minister of Regional Development Elzbieta Bienkowska, Archbishop of Warsaw Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, President of the American Otological Society prof. Herman Jenkins, President of the European Federation of Audiological Societies prof. Kurt Stephan, Chancellor of the Medical University of Warsaw prof. Marek Krawczyk, Chancellor of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music prof. Stanislaw Moryto, Chancellor Elect of the Warsaw University of Technology prof. Jan Szmidt, Chancellor of the Academy of Special Education prof. Jan Laszczyk, Director of the National Centre for Research and Development prof. Krzysztof Jan Kurzydlowski, Director of the Main Council of the Research Institutes prof. Leszek Rafalski, Senator Rafal Muchacki, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Memeber of Parliament Beata Malecka-Libera, Vice-Chairman of Seym’s Committee on Health, Member of Parliament Henryk Smolarz, Senator Andrzej Kobiak, Mieczyslaw Kasprzak, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Economy, Tadeusz Slawecki, Secretary of State in the Ministry of National Education, Adam Zdzieblo, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Regional Development, Aleksander Soplinski, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Health, Przemyslaw Bilinski, Main Pharmaceutical Inspector, Grzegorz Cessak, President of the Office for Registration of Medicinal Products, Medical Devices and Biocidal Products, Marcin Antoniak, acting General Director in the Ministry of Health; former Undersecretaries of State in the Ministry of Health: Adam Fronczak Ph.D. and Andrzej Wlodarczyk, Ph.D.; Advisors of the President of Poland: Joanna Starega-Piasek Ph.D., prof. Tomasz Borecki, Artur Brzoska, President of the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund, Janinia Pszczołkowska, Deputy President of the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund, Daniel Zaharenko, Deputy President of the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund, Zbigniew Teter, Vice-President of the National Health Fund, Olga Johan, Vice-Chairperson of the Warsaw City Council, Agnieszka Kuzmińska, Vice-Prefect of Pruszkow County, Janusz Grzyb, Mayor of Nadarzyn Municipality, Beata Cholewka, Director of the Department of Nurses and Birth Attendants in the Ministry of Health, Michal Kepowicz, Director of the Department of European Union Funds in the Ministry of Health, Jadwiga Jaszczyk, Director of the Office for Foreign Aid Programs in Health Care, Prof. Michal Kleiber, President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Prof. Jacek Zaremba, Dean on the 5th Division of Medical Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Prof. Tadeusz Kaczorek, President of the Central Committee for Degrees and Scientific Titles, Prof. Wojciech Noszczyk, Vice-President of the Central Committee for Degrees and Scientific Titles, Prof. Krzysztof Jan Kurzydłowski, Director of the National Centre for Research and Development, Leszek Grabarczyk, Deputy Director of the National Centre for Research and Development, Prof. Leszek Rafalski, Chairman of the Main Council of the Research Institutes, Prof. Danuta Koradecka Vice- Chairman of the Main Council of the Research Institutes, Director of the Central Institute for Labour Protection, Prof. Andrzej Czlonkowski, Council Chairperson of the Foundation for Polish Science, Prof. Wlodzimierz Bolecki, Deputy President of the Foundation for Polish Science, Prof. Lukasz Turski, Chairman of the Programme Council of the Copernicus Science Center, Robert Firmhofer, Director of the Copernicus Science Center, Prof. Marek Krawczyk, Rector of the Medical University of Warsaw, Prof. Joanna Jedrzejczak, Director of the Medical Centre of Postgraduate Education, Prof. Jan Szmidt, Dean of the Faculty of Electronics and Information Technology of the Warsaw University of Technology, Prof. Stanislaw Moryto, Rector of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music, Prof. Ryszard Zimak, Rector-Elect of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music, Prof. Jan  Laszczyk, Rector of the Maria Grzegorzewska Academy of Special Education, Prof. Alojzy Szymanski, Rector of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences – SGGW, Prof. Jerzy Paweł Nowacki, Rector of the Polish-Japanese Institute of Information Technology, Prof. Alojzy Nowak, Dean of the Faculty of Management of the University of Warsaw Representative of the University of Warsaw, Prof. Witold Ruzyllo, Director of the Institute of Cardiology, Olaf Gajl Ph.D., Director of the Information Processing Institute, Tomasz Maciejewski Ph.D., Director of the Institute of Mother and Child, Prof. Przemyslaw Oszukowski, Director of the Polish Mother’s Memorial Hospital-Research Institute, Prof. Jerzy Stelmachow, Deputy Director of the Institute of Rheumatology, Prof. Mariola Sliwinska-Kowalska, Deputy Director of the Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Prof. Wojciech Hanke, Deputy Director of the Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Stanislaw Traczyk Ph.D., Director of the Institute of Ceramics and Building Materials, Prof. Krzysztof Szamalek, Deputy Director of the Institute of Ceramics and Building Materials; Institute’s Friends Forever: Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, Prof. Longin Pastusiak, Jozef Oleksy Ph.D., Jerzy Kozminski, Maria Gajęcka-Bozek Ph.D., Prof. Andrzej Czyzewski, Prof. Edward Hojan, Andrzej Marchewka; State Consultants: Prof. Wiesław Jedrzejczak, Prof. Boleslaw Samolinski, Prof. Grazyna Niedzielska, Prof. Grzegorz Pawlicki, Prof. Marek Rogowski, Prof. Grzegorz Opolski; Representatives of the Team of the State Consultant for Otorhinolaryngology: Pawel Dobrzynski Ph.D., Prof. Wojciech Golusinski, Prof. Henryk Kazmierczak, Bogdan Kibilda Ph.D., Prof. Tomasz Krecicki, Prof. Jurek Olszewski.

During the Opening Ceremony of the World Hearing Center there were also many notable guests, distinguished scientists from all over the world representing European, American and other international societies: Prof. Christoph von Ilberg, Germany – cochlear implant pioneer, Prof. George Tavartkiladze, Russia – former President of the Collegium Oto-Rhino-Laryngologicum Amicitiae Sacrum, Prof. Nuri Ozgirgin, Turkey – President of the Politzer Society, Prof. Herman Jenkins, USA – President of the American Otological Society, Prof. Kurt Stephan, Austria – President of the European Federation of Audiological Societies, Prof. Antonio Della Volpe, Italy – Member of the Politzer Socity, Prof. David L. McPherson, USA – Member of the International Society of Audiology, Prof. Rene Gifford, USA – Member of the American Acoustic Society, Prof. Jose-Luis Padilla, Spain – Member of the European Association of Methodology, Prof. Sophia Kramer, the Netherlands – President of the International Collegium of Rehabilitative Audiology, Prof. Tim Terzis, Greece – founder of the Hellenic Rhinologic Society and member of the European Rhinologic Society, Prof. Milan Stankovic, Serbia – Instructor and Regional Secretary of European Academy of Otology & Otoneurology (EAONO), Dr. Agnieszka Szczepek, Germany – Member of the International Inflammation Society, Dr. Ad Snik, the Netherlands –  Member of the International Society of Audiology, Prof. Erwin Hochmair, Austria – Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Prof. Stavros Hatzopoulos, Italy – Member of the International Evoked Responses Audiology Group (IERASG), Prof. Jamol Kholmatov, Tajikistan – Member of the ENT Societies of Central Asia, Prof. Sergey Pukhlik, Ukraine – Member of the International Society of Allergists and Immunologists, Richard Brook  – President of the Cochlear Europe, Dr. Marek Polak – Med-El representative, Cris Zimmerr – Advanced Bionics representative; members of the Collegium Oto-Rhino-Laryngologicum Amicitiae Sacrum: Dr. Ingeborg Hochmair, Austria, Prof. Michal Luntz, Israel, Prof. Wolf-Dieter Baumgartner, Austria; National Representatives in the European Federation of Audiological Societies: Prof. Joseph Attias, Israel, Dr. Ewa Raglan, UK, Prof. Frans Coninx, Germany, Prof. Norbert Dillier, Switzerland, Dr. Tetyana Golubok-Abyzova, Ukraine.

The World Hearing Center is the first and unique facility of this kind on an international scale. The creation of the Center is incredibly important for the development of science and research of new ways of diagnosis and treatment of sensory disorders. The Center is both a modern hospital where unique and highly specialized medical procedures are performed using state-of-the-art medical equipment and great technical facilities as well as a superbly prepared education center which pursues wide-ranging research and educational activities. This allows the training in medicine, clinical engineering, deaf education and deaf psychology of specialists from all over the world. The Center became a seat of several new research departments. Some of them were pioneering on an international scale, i.a. the National Network of Teleaudilogy.

Today the Center is a proactive and perfectly organized enterprise with about 400 employees. It’s seat is located in Kajetany, near Warsaw. It covers the usable area of 20 418 m2, containing 2 multimedia telemedical studios, which are the only ones in Poland, 7 conference rooms, which can seat the total number of 800 people at the same time, and last but not least, Educational Center, which has state-of-art medical equipment designated for surgical trainings with the use of anatomical specimens and computer simulators. 40 people can train there at the same time. It is the biggest studio with this profile in the world.

The Center has a strong position in Poland and abroad and gets numerous awards and distinctions for its achievements. It is a leading research institute and a highly specialized hospital. As a medical facility it gets references of the highest standard – A+ category. The Committee for Evaluation of Research Units, assessing the effects of science activities, and activities related to the research and development in 2009-2012, considered the impressive achievements of this youngest medical departmental institute in Poland. The highest scientific category of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing proves that it is one of the best-managed Polish facility of this kind – perhaps it is the only of 16 research institutes supervised by the Ministry of Health that has never been in debt.

One can argue that without support from many people who believed in Professor Skarżyński’s vision and concepts, there would be none of those facilities. An unusual form of showing gratitude to them is a board “Friends Forever” that welcomes patients and visitors in the World Hearing Center. It reminds them of all those people who noticeably contributed to the development of the Institute and supported it with their knowledge, scientific authority, involvement and commitment. Politicians listed in the board showed their advocacy of and provided their patronage over the idea of Professor Skarżyński, which exceeded the limits of any political views. Artists used their skills to help deaf children in Poland and other European countries. Scientists of worldwide renown invited experts from the Institute to their laboratories and clinics in order to share their knowledge and skills. The list of “Friends Forever” is open. New names of people, associations and institutions appear there regularly. Still there are people who appreciate what has already been done and still encourage the team of the Center to further development.

Scientific, research and clinical activities of professor Henryk Skarżyński and the team from the World Hearing Center gives a great opportunity to build a strong position of Poland in the world scientific and medical history. Despite various signs of the crisis, the research and clinical facilities created by professor Skarżyński in the past 20 years and the enormous commitment of the team allows to look to the future with optimism.