About Doreen Pollack
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About Doreen Pollack



Article from: Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO) Article date: June 17, 2005 Author: Accola, John



Five weeks ago, following her last visit to the hospital emergency room, Doreen Pollack decided it was time to let go.No more kidney dialysis, no more surgeries, no more medical consultations, she told her family and doctors. At 84, Ms. Pollack - one of the nation's foremost authorities on speech therapy for the deaf - welcomed dying on her


"She was ready, and she has always been very specific about what she wants," said her daughter, Naomi Cohen. Surrounded by family, Ms. Pollack died June 8 at the Heather Gardens condo in Aurora she shared with her second husband, Eldon Kreh. It had been three weeks since she had her hair styled and her nails manicured. But she could fault her doctors for that. Without her three times a week dialysis, they figured she'd be gone within a week to 10 days.


"She said she might as well go out looking good," said Naomi, recalling their mid-May visit to the hair salon. A few weeks later, too ill to meet with Gerty and Rudy Barnes, her friends for more than a half-century, Ms. Pollack left a goodbye message on their answering machine. The Barneses had witnessed firsthand Ms. Pollack's ability to beat the odds, starting with her paralysis from polio as a young mother. Although Ms. Pollack fully recovered, she was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in her late 30s. Separate bouts with bladder and breast cancer followed. The Barneses knew Ms. Pollack in her native England when she was a World War II bride comforting children sent to the countryside to escape the German bombs. Rudy Barnes and Ms. Pollack's first husband, Eric Pollack, were German Jews who met in college in Czechoslovakia and later joined the Allied forces. The Barneses were dumbfounded by their friend's recorded goodbye. But they also understood.


"She always had, as the English say, that stiff upper lip," said Gerty, who can't recall a time when Ms. Pollack didn't smile back at adversity. "She was an inspiration to us all. She loved people, she loved friendship, she loved life . . . and loving her wasn't difficult to do."


She was born March 16, 1921, the daughter of a prominent Birmingham, England, family. As a speech pathologist and audiologist, Ms. Pollack became internationally known for her research and therapy program for hearing-impaired children. Her published works on speech therapy for deaf preschoolers remain the most widely read textbooks in her field. In 1948, with a degree in speech pathology from London University, Ms. Pollack jump-started her career by teaming with a group of New York City audiologists specializing in audiometric research on preschoolers. Under her guidance, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, for the first time, began screening newborn babies for hearing - a procedure that today is considered routine and is mandatory by law in some states, including Colorado. The screening program led to the establishment of a model clinic providing sound and speech training to preschool children with limited hearing. In the early 1950s, Ms. Pollack took her research a step further at the University of Denver, where she helped establish the Denver Hearing Society.


In 1965, she began directing the speech and hearing clinic at Porter Memorial Hospital. The Listen Foundation, a Denver charity she founded in 1970, continues to provide financial assistance to families and children who use her methods. Ms. Pollack's self-styled therapy, which she called acoupedics, immersed deaf children as young as 11 months in a language training program that teaches speech with natural intonation. It was a radical idea at the time. But fitted with powerful hearing aids in both ears, even profoundly deaf children have enough residual hearing to pick up vowel sounds for learning speech, said Margaret "Peggy" Bruce, a New York audiologist who in 1957 began graduate training under Ms. Pollack at DU.


The so-called auditory verbal technique is specifically geared for deaf children under 5 and has proved to be the most effective with those who haven't learned to read lips and use sign language. Auditory therapists trained under the Pollack method are cautioned that sign language can actually block a hearing-impaired child's ability to learn, Bruce said. In an interview two years ago with Denver artist Linda Thomas Arnold - one of her former Colorado students – Ms. Pollack said she became single-minded about acoupedics because it enabled the hearing-impaired to become fully functional in a hearing world. Recent advances in cochlear implant technology have virtually assured that normal speech is possible for the vast majority of deaf people, she said. "I always point out that no method is the only method,"she told Arnold. "But if you want a child with a hearing loss to take his place in the hearing world, then he must learn to listen and speak first."


Arnold, 52, who easily converses on the phone with normal tone and inflection, said she owes her life to Ms. Pollack. "I have such a normal life . . . because she had an incredible vision," Arnold said.


Mary Mosher Stathes, a Denver auditory therapist, said parents of deaf children sought Ms. Pollack's expertise even after she retired in 1982. "What made Doreen so different is that she saw every child as an individual opportunity, and that every child should have the opportunity to speak," Stathes said. "If it didn't work, so be it . . . but it was kind of like unless you put the hearing aids on and teach the child to listen, you never know if it will work or not."


Stephen Rinaldo, a business manager at Northrop Grumman in Denver, was 7 when he was referred to Ms. Pollack at Porter Hospital. Older than most of her students, Rinaldo said Ms. Pollack welcomed him into her program. "She taught me to hear and speak," Rinaldo said. "I always thank God for bringing her into my life."


A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. today at Heather Gardens Community auditorium, 2888 S. Heather Gardens Way, Aurora. Ms. Pollack was preceded in death by her first husband in 1987 and their son, Geoffrey Pollack, in 2000. In addition to her husband, Eldon Kreh, and her daughter, Naomi Cohen, of Greenwood Village, she is survived by a son, Douglas Pollack, of Parker, and grandchildren Adam and Emily Cohen and Maylin Pollack.

Plaque Presentation

Cherry Creek Has Heart!

Pat Greenway and Naomi Cohen of the Listen Foundation present a plaque to the Cherry Creek Has Heart Committee at the Merrill Lynch office in Cherry Creek. The committee is made up of independent financial advisors who have donated $15,000 to sponsor three children for a year. Listen Foundation greatly appreciates this generous and thoughtful contribution.

Plaque presentation 2017 

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Listening and Spoken Language Practice

1. Working toward the earliest possible identification of hearing loss in infants and young children, ideally in the newborn nursery.  Conducting an aggressive program of audiologic management.

2. Seeking the best available sources of medical treatment and technological amplification of sound for the child who is deaf or hard of hearing as early as possible.

3. Helping the child understand the meaning of any sounds heard, including spoken language, and teaching the child's parents how to make sound meaningful to the child all day long.

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