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June 1997

Janet Maher
and Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center: Meeting A Community Need

By Jennifer REESE

“It is the role of the not-for-profit organization to seek to meet the needs of the community in a quality way. Providing services to people brings with it a large degree of responsibility.

Our purpose should always be to serve the community in the best possible way.”

These words, from Janet Maher, President of Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center, exemplify her philosophy for the Center, and the hearing and speech-language profession in general. With a strong commitment to maintaining a high standard of quality and dedicated to meeting the unmet needs of the community, Maher has helped Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center to achieve a remarkable degree of expansion and development in just a little over a decade.

At the time of her appointment in 1986 by the Board of Directors, Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center had a staff of only 17 people and an annual budget of $500,000. Today, Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center employs over 150 clinical and professional staff members and has an annual budget of $5,000,000.

In her tenure at the Center, Maher has worked to carry on a long-standing tradition of outstanding service and commitment to the community. With a mission of helping men, women and children with speech-language and hearing impairments achieve their maximum communication potential, Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center is dedicated to meeting the needs of the community by providing quality services and fostering research for the prevention, habilitation and rehabilitation of communication disorders.

In the 44 years since its founding, Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center has expanded to meet the growing needs of the community and remain at the cutting edge of advances in the diagnosis and treatment of speech-language and hearing impairments. Since its formation, the Center has helped over 60,000 individuals in the Western New York community overcome their communication disorders and achieve a better quality of life.

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Hearing loss affects an estimated 75% of people age 50 and over. Here,
Janet Maher observes as one of the Center’s audiologists prepares to conduct a hearing test.

While a busy mother of three, Janet Maher returned to college to seek a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. As a graduate student in 1971, Maher served an externship at Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center. It was at that time that she developed a genuine affection for the Center. “I found Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center to have a uniquely wonderful atmosphere,” said Maher. “The small staff at that time not only had strong professional talents, but also cared very much about each patient, and about each other.”

Following graduation from the State University College at Buffalo in 1972, Maher began her professional career as a speech-language pathologist with Niagara County Speech, Hearing & Learning Center. In just two years, she was presented with the opportunity to become director, and it was then that she developed her love for administrative work. Says Maher, “While I was no longer able to work with patients on a one-to-one basis, I soon realized that sound management decisions, while indirect, can have a very positive impact on the quality of life for those with speech-language and hearing disorders.” From 1984 to 1986, Maher was enrolled in a doctoral program at the State University of New York at Buffalo for the study of organization and administration.

In 1986, Maher was delighted to return to Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center as president of the organization. As an administrator and a native Buffalonian, she was pleased to have the opportunity to develop new programs and strengthen existing services at the Center, while continuing to uphold the highest standards of quality and commitment to the community.

One of the very first goals Maher achieved upon her arrival at Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center was the formation of its Early Childhood Program in 1987. Encompassing both early intervention and preschool services, the Program provides treatment for children from infancy to 5 years of age who are affected with hearing and speech-language disorders.

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Janet shares a book with children in the Center’s
Early Childhood Program.

In addition to this achievement, Maher advocated the development of therapeutic support groups for adults with communication disorders. According to Maher, “One of the most important roles for a community hearing and speech center is to encourage ongoing participation from family members. The active involvement of family, through support groups, has been shown to considerably increase the amount of progress made by patients during and after their therapy.”

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Celebrating the wedding of her daughter in 1988 are Janet and, from left,
her son Joseph; daughter Jeanne and her husband, Mark; and daughter Julie;
all of whom now have careers in other parts of the country.

While strongly convinced of Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center’s status as a quality organization, Maher was also aware of the need for recognition of the Center within the professional community, as well. Through her foresight and direction, and the dedication and support of the Center’s board and staff, Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center was honored to receive national accreditation from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 1994. The Center is one of only 350 of the 2,500 hearing and speech centers in the United States to receive this distinction.

It was in 1995, however, that Maher’s ultimate vision was achieved. To meet the growing demands of the Western New York community and provide the optimal setting for the diagnosis and treatment of those with communication disorders, Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center constructed and now occupies a new 47,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility at 50 E. North Street in the Downtown Buffalo Medical Corridor.

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Joining Janet in celebrating the Grand Opening of
Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center’s new facility are, from left, Councilman James Pitts, Senator Anthony Nanula, Steven Truesdale, Legislator George Holt, James Julian, Assemblyman Robin Schimminger and Mayor Anthony Masiello.
Janet Maher greets visitors
in front of the Center
at 50 E. North Street.

With this new facility, Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center is able to continue to develop new programs and acquire new technology to enhance both the quality and scope of its services. The new facility provides the optimal setting for the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of those with communication impairments.

Most recently, Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center has been reaching beyond the walls of its facility and providing services out in the community — in patients’ homes, at child care centers, at senior centers, in hospitals and at nursing homes. The Center has also added a new day care program, Great Beginnings, A Child Care Learning Center. This program provides a safe, nurturing day care environment for infants, toddlers and preschool children and is open to all children, not just those with speech-language or hearing impairments.

With the achievement of her initial goals, including national accreditation and the construction of a new facility, Maher’s long term vision for Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center is to have it remain as a center of excellence, at the cutting edge of the profession, and continue to reach out to those in need. “The Center must always be an integral part of the fabric of the community,” says Maher. “Wherever there are people in need, Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center will be there – for many years to come.”

Jennifer Reese works at the Development Office of Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center.

 

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