Former Director, Hearing and Speech Center
PUTTING HEARING AND SPEECH ON THE MAP
I started at MedStar Washington Hospital Center the year it opened, moving over with the staff from the old Episcopal Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital where I had been working part-time as a clinical audiologist while I pursued advanced degrees at the University of Maryland. I continued working part-time at the Hospital Center until 1962 when I was asked to become full-time Director of the Hearing and Speech Center.
Armed with a personal two-year grant from the Eugene and Agnes Myers Foundation, support from the Women's Auxiliary, big ideas, and the energy of youth, my colleagues and I soon received a five-year Clinical Development Grant of several hundred thousand dollars from the federal government. The grant was designed to render the department self-sufficient by the end of the fifth year. We did it, too, unless of course you asked the Finance Department who always asked, "What about the indirects?"
The Hearing and Speech Center became integral to the private practice of otology, assisting in the selection of patients for middle ear surgery for mobilization or removal of the stapes to improve hearing. For those whose hearing could not be surgically enhanced, the center selected and dispensed hearing aids. Patient census grew, and in the early 1970s, the center moved to larger quarters on the ground floor and added staff. We also increased examination and rehabilitation capability in both speech pathology and audiology, including providing services to adult patients who had received a cochlear implant.
The center received Full Professional Services Board Accreditation from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and was listed, in the 1970s, as one of the ten busiest Hearing and Speech Programs on the East Coast.
There were many accomplishments during my 37 years but none of them would have been possible without a devoted professional staff, and I cherished them all during the good times, the bad and all the in-between times. The confidence shown to me by the medical staff, nurses, administrators, department heads, the attending staff, and all the ancillary personnel that made the entire mission a big family of folks who loved their hospital, will always be a good memory.
LIKE HUSBAND, LIKE WIFE!
In my beginning days at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, one of our attending otolaryngologists would appear in my office doorway regaled in his scrubs around lunchtime and say, "Come on. Let's go have lunch. But I don't carry my wallet in my scrub suit, so do you mind buying?"
He was a great referral source for us, so what could I say? Off we'd go to the cafeteria, eat and talk, and teach each other. And I loved it.
A week later the same thing happened, and again the week after that - always in scrubs and each time patting himself down as if his wallet would suddenly appear. It went on for years and I bought lunch every time, although the frequency of his visits dwindled as the number of ear surgeons increased and the pool of ear surgery cases diminished. I don't know what it cost me over the years, but it was worth every cent and every minute for as long as it lasted.
A few years following his death, Mrs. Doc was admitted for a surgical procedure. During her recovery I thought it would be nice if I went by her room to pay my respects, although I had never met her.
"Oh yes," she said. "David! My husband spoke often of you, and thought..."
At about that moment a man entered the room carrying newspapers and interrupted her sentence so I will never know what she might have said. The man asked, "Would you like The Washington Post, ma'am?"
"Yes I would", she responded. She then turned her face to me and said. "David? Do you have change for the paper? I don't have my purse with me." And as I was paying the guy for the morning Post she added, "And I owe him for four days; could you...? Thank you, dear."
I truly love that memory - even though some things never change.