A new building planned for the Texas Medical Center will unite The Center for Hearing and Speech and Texas Children’s Hospital under one roof for more robust services to thousands more children with hearing loss.
The center’s new 42,000-square-foot facility, slated to break ground this year and open in 2020 near State Highway 288 and South MacGregor Way, is expected to serve twice as many patients annually than the current campus on West Dallas.
“A lot of our kids have other issues, so they end up going to Texas Children’s to get those issues addressed. It would be a lot easier on the families if we could locate closer or in the Texas Medical Center,” said Alan L. Smith, The Center for Hearing and Speech’s board chairman.
The nonprofit served 8,000 children in 2018 from infancy to 18 years old through an audiology clinic, a speech-language pathology clinic and The Melinda Webb School. The United Way of Greater Houston agency is the region’s sole provider teaching listening, speaking and literacy skills to children with hearing loss on a sliding scale. The center employs seven master’s level speech-language pathologists, nine master’s level teachers of the deaf and seven doctorate-level pediatric audiologists.
“If kids can listen well and they develop proper speech, they have a much better chance of reading well,” Smith said.
A vital part of expanding services and improving outcomes through the joint venture includes the Texas Children’s medical professionals—including ear, nose and throat physicians—who will practice in the new building.
“Joining forces with the Center for Hearing and Speech is a natural fit as our commitment to treating children with hearing loss is unmatched,” Larry Hollier, M.D., surgeon-in-chief at Texas Children’s, said in a statement. “We look forward to working together in a highly collaborative manner to enhance the care provided to children across our area.”
Smith, president and CEO of Rockcliff Energy, first encountered the center more than a decade ago after his daughter was born premature and deaf.
“Thanks to technology and people introducing us to the center and Texas Children’s, she got cochlear implants,” he said. “She went to the Center for Hearing and Speech from the time she was about 24 months old until pre-K.”
Tiffany Grace Smith, now 11, received auditory verbal therapy among other specialized services. Even with other challenges that aren’t hearing-related, her father said she’s on the path to mainstream and higher education opportunities.
Alan Smith joined the board a few years ago as leaders were envisioning a new home for the center.
“We want to double the number of kids we’re serving—double the audiology patients, double the speech therapy and double the size of the school,” said Smith, who became board chairman in May 2017. “We thought it was important for us to remain neutral and not become a part of a hospital, to continue to have the compassionate care that we exhibited toward our clients and patients and to keep the audiology and the speech and the school all under one roof—that’s our secret sauce.”
A co-location with Texas Children’s emerged as the right option to meet those goals.
Already, the center’s $22.5 million capital campaign has raised $7.5 million. Smith said the nonprofit plans to split the proceeds of the building sale with its co-occupant, The Harris Center. After vacating the structure this summer and factoring the cost of a temporary location, leaders estimate adding another $10 million to the fund.
“By June, we will have at least $17.5 million, so we’ll have $5 million or less to go,” he said.
Texas Children’s Hospital is a longtime member institution of the Texas Medical Center. The Center for Hearing and Speech joined the TMC in 2017.
Founded as the Houston School for Deaf Children seven decades ago, The Center for Hearing and Speech is the most comprehensive resource for pediatric hearing loss in Texas and the region’s only facility offering audiology, speech pathology and spoken language education at a single site.
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Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Aida Nancy Sanchez. Aida served during the Vietnam War from 1952 to 1976.Aida was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in November 1931. She graduated at the age of 15 and won a scholarship to attend St. Mary of the Woods College in Indiana. She graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry. Upon graduation, she applied and was accepted into the army physical therapy school program with an age waiver due to being under 21 at the time. Aida then headed to Fort Sam Houston, Texas to attend and graduate from the program in 1953. This is where she also met then General Dwight Eisenhower. Afterwards, she was assigned to the Brooke Army Medical Centre at Fort Sam Houston then to Fitzsimmons Army General Hospital in Denver, Colorado around 1956. During this assignment, Aida met President Eisenhower when he came to visit his friend whom was her patient. She stated that he remembered her from the physical therapy school and sent a pot of stew he made a day or two after the visit.After she completed her assignment at Fitzsimmons, she was sent to Rodriguez Army Hospital in Puerto Rico until she was discharged from active duty and went into the army reserves for two years. During that time, Aida worked for the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois for a year before becoming the Director of the Bureau of Crippled Children within the Department of Health of Puerto Rico. During her time in Puerto Rico, she received a letter from the Department of Defense stating that they needed more physical therapists, so she decided to return to active duty. Her first assignment was the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, then she was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for a year or two. Afterwards, Aida was sent to Fort Myer, Virginia to establish a physical therapy clinic within the Andrew Rader Clinic at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Once setting up the unit, Aida was sent to graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and upon graduation was assigned to Letterman Army Medical Center to oversee the clinical affiliations of five universities located near the hospital.Aida’s next assignment was to become the assistant chief of physical therapy at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii before she received orders to deploy in support of the Vietnam War in 1970. She was originally sent to the Army hospital in Saigon to replace the physical therapist but was routed to the 95th Evacuation Hospital near Da Nang to establish the first physical therapy clinic within the hospital. During her tour of duty, Aida was extended to deploy to Cambodia and assist then President Lon Nol because she had previously helped him during his stay at the Tripler Army Medical Center. She was constantly flying back and forth between Vietnam and Cambodia to help the president get physically better. She assisted many American and Cambodian soldiers and citizens with their physical therapy needs while deployed. After Aida redeployed, she was sent to Fort Gordon as the chief physical therapist who oversaw the transfer of the physical therapy clinic from older barracks into the newly built Eisenhower Army Medical Center. It took about six years to complete the task and Aida retired as a Lieutenant Colonel shortly after with about 24 years of service.Thank you for your service, Aida!
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