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The C. Everett Koop Papers

Title:
[Address to the] Boston Guild for the Hard of Hearing, Boston, Massachusetts pdf (1,081,897 Bytes) transcript of pdf
[Address to the] Boston Guild for the Hard of Hearing, Boston, Massachusetts
Description:
NOTE: This speech is heavily edited by Koop, and the page numbering does not correspond to the actual order of the pages.
Item is handwritten. Item is a photocopy.
Number of Image Pages:
28 (1,081,897 Bytes)
Date:
1989-11-30 (November 30, 1989)
Creator:
Koop, C. Everett
Rights:
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Subject:
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Disabled Persons
Persons With Hearing Impairments
Deafness
Government Programs
Exhibit Category:
Congenital Birth Defects and the Medical Rights of Children: The "Baby Doe" Controversy
Relation:
Metadata Record "[Address to the] Boston Guild for the Hard of Hearing, Boston, Massachusetts" [Reminiscence] (2003) pdf (48,754 Bytes) transcript of pdf
/ps/access/QQBDFH.pdf
Box Number: 9
Folder Number: 1989 Nov 30
Unique Identifier:
QQBDFG
Document Type:
Speeches
Language:
English
Format:
application/pdf
image/tif
Physical Condition:
Good
Transcript:
Boston Guild for the Hard of Hearing
C. Everett Koop
November 30, 1989
[END PAGE ONE]
[BEGIN PAGE TWO]
As you know, I came to the position of Surgeon General in Washington about 8 years ago, fresh from a long career as a pediatric surgeon. For nearly 40 years I looked at medical problems and tried to solve them with the skills in my own two hands.
[END PAGE TWO]
[BEGIN PAGE THREE]
And I suspect that, subconsciously, I thought that was what health care and medical care were all about. Most physicians have that quite natural bias, that health care is the sum total of the patching up they do for their patients.
And, to a certain extent, I guess it is.
But not altogether. And less so in the future.
[END PAGE THREE]
[BEGIN PAGE FOUR]
And that's one of the main lessons I learned, during my two terms as your Surgeon General.
Virtually every major health issue I had to deal with as a Surgeon General has had -- at its very heart -- the way people behave . . . the way they behave toward themselves . . . the way they behave toward others they know and love . . . and the way they behave toward others they don't know at all.
[END PAGE FOUR]
[BEGIN PAGE FIVE]
Shall I list some of those issues? I'll name just a handful:
Smoking . . . The abuse of alcohol . . . unwanted pregnancies . . . child abuse and other forms of family violence . . . and infectious diseases such as hepatitis B . . . and, course, AIDS.
I'll stop right there, although the full list is a good deal longer.
[END PAGE FIVE]
[BEGIN PAGE SIX]
But at the base of each of those painful, tragic, destructive, and preventable health problems is an equally tragic and destructive human behavior.
This is not an easy subject discuss in a democracy, because we pride ourselves on letting the individual make the decision as to what he or she wants out of life.
[END PAGE SIX]
[BEGIN PAGE SEVEN]
And the rest of us have agreed -- so far, anyway -- that we will pay almost any price to keep that part of our social compact alive and well.
Hence, we put a great deal of human material resources into vaccine research and delivery . . . into drug development . . . into physical and mental health therapies of every kind . . . into those kinds of medical and public health responses that are after the fact.
[END PAGE SEVEN]
[BEGIN PAGE EIGHT]
And we turn to large, broad-brush kinds of public education programs to do the tough, long-term job of correcting hazardous, high-risk human behavior. Also after the fact.
[END PAGE EIGHT]
[BEGIN PAGE NINE]
When you think of AIDS and Hepatitis you can see
[END PAGE NINE]
[BEGIN PAGE TEN]
For example, I think there's a direct, straight-line relationship between the 1960s, when many constraints disappeared, concerning experimentation with drugs and sexuality . . . and the 1970s, when such experimentation became rather widespread among young people in our society . . . and the 1980s, when the tragic results of much of that behavior can be more clearly seen.
[END PAGE TEN]
[BEGIN PAGE ELEVEN]
And so we've been busy the past few years posting the weekly tallies of drug overdose deaths . . . of "children having children" . . . of victims of a new epidemic of syphilis . . . of the escalating numbers of people with resistant strains of gonorrhea . . . and of the expanding caseload of people who were incubating the AIDS virus until the "right" opportunistic disease came along.
[END PAGE ELEVEN]
[BEGIN PAGE TWELVE]
In many areas of medicine and public health, we're making excellent progress:
Hypertension screening, organ transplantation, cancer detection and control, and so on.
[END PAGE TWELVE]
[BEGIN PAGE THIRTEEN]
But in many other areas, we seem to be running in place, if not actually falling behind. The statistics are not good. Far too many people in our society have fallen victim to debilitating and deadly disease. And we suspect that the worst numbers may not be in yesterday's files. Rather, they may show up in the tally sheets of tomorrow and the day after.
[END PAGE THIRTEEN]
[BEGIN PAGE FOURTEEN]
I'd like to address 3 behavioral changes in reference to hearing. A moment ago I mentioned 3 behavioral patterns that certainly refer to hearing.
The way people behave towards themselves.
The way they behave toward others they know and love
The way they behave toward others they don't know at all.
First -- behavior toward oneself
[END PAGE FOURTEEN]
[BEGIN PAGE FIFTEEN]
Many children are born with normal hearing . . . they grow and become lively adolescents . . . taking part in sports and other recreational activities of their generation.
Unfortunately, one of those activities is contemporary popular music and one of the key means of having access to this music is the personal recorder with headphones. We already know the terrible price of partial and total deafness paid by rock and roll musicians, especially drummers.
[END PAGE FIFTEEN]
[BEGIN PAGE SIXTEEN]
Now we're beginning to understand that the same price is being paid by those who listen to those musicians on tape, with the volume turned up so high that the decibel level actually might exceed what it would have been, had the musician been heard "live."
The latest sound "craze," is to put up to 8 megawatt speakers inside the closed environment of one's automobile . . . and play rock music on such a system at top volume.
[END PAGE SIXTEEN]
[BEGIN PAGE SEVENTEEN]
I believe that qualifies as being a "public nuisance" and ought to be stopped on those grounds alone. I hope such cases get into the courts and that the rest of us on public streets and highways can be protected from such assaults of high-volume sound.
Frankly, I see no difference between the sound pollution generated by people driving cars and the air pollution generated by people smoking cigarettes. Both kinds of pollution are harmful to human health.
[END PAGE SEVENTEEN]
[BEGIN PAGE EIGHTEEN]
It is no easy task but we have got to change the behavior of adolescents and do it in an era when most of us have concluded that teenagers don't change their behavior because of fear of the consequences of that behavior. How we do this remains to be seen.
Then there's behavior toward those we love. Just think how many elderly people live together and cant [sic] communicate
[END PAGE EIGHTEEN]
[BEGIN PAGE NINETEEN]
or do so poorly because one or both are hearing impaired
After I'd been in Washington for several years, I was beginning to feel more comfortable with the job
Began to like more people in the Congress, and actually enjoyed committee meetings at the White House.
Suddenly I realized why -- I was losing my hearing.
Seriously, though
[END PAGE NINETEEN]
[BEGIN PAGE TWENTY]
I realized I was missing a lot and making inappropriate responses.
So I got two hearing aids. Getting a hearing aid should be just like getting eyeglasses. We have to change the behavior of older people about wearing hearing aids -- but we have to keep hammering away at age prejudice -- a behavior toward others we don't know at all.
[END PAGE TWENTY]
[BEGIN PAGE TWENTY-ONE]
I make as many statements about my hearing aids as I can. I like to change batteries in public places.
My own hearing aids are not easy to see and, to be honest about it, I feel very comfortable with them . . . they work just fine . . . and I'd like everyone my age - - - and the dozen or so people who are older than I - - to know that.
I'm proud of the fact, although I am hearing impaired, I am still doing exactly what I want to do. In fact, in some cases, being hearing impaired may very well have helped.
[END PAGE TWENTY-ONE]
[BEGIN PAGE TWENTY-TWO]
Another behavior toward those we dont [sic] know at all is the necessary screening and assessment of hearing and speech disorders especially screening of newborns.
[END PAGE TWENTY-TWO]
[BEGIN PAGE TWENTY-THREE]
First of all, we do not yet have the national program of screening and assessment that a country as technologically advanced as ours ought to have. Frankly, if it were not for tremendous volunteer efforts, we'd be in terrible shape . . . we'd have an even dimmer idea of the scope of this problem in America today. -- 24 million speech and hearing disorders --
[END PAGE TWENTY-THREE]
[BEGIN PAGE TWENTY-FOUR]
For example, we have the technology to do a fairly accurate assessment of hearing disorders among the newborn. But in many hospitals and clinics -- I might even say in most hospitals and clinics -- this type of assessment just isn't done.
Babies are born with hearing and speech disorders . . . disorders which can be recognized and ought to be recognized . . . but which are not recognized at all.
[END PAGE TWENTY-FOUR]
[BEGIN PAGE TWENTY-FIVE]
Physicians leave the job to the parents . . . parents leave it to the schools . . . and the schools do the best they can, but then it's already very late for many children who've had to struggle to comprehend the world around them during those significant first years of their lives.
That's not fair. It's not fair to those children. And it's not fair to their parents and siblings.
We need to do a much better job assessing every newborn American for possible speech or hearing disorders . . . and then setting in motion whatever is needed to correct or compensate for those disorders.
[END PAGE TWENTY-FIVE]
[BEGIN PAGE TWENTY-SIX]
But we've come a long way with the education of the public and the hearing impaired. So that today we can say to the hearing impaired who have taken their place in society.
You may be deaf -- but you're not invisible
You may be heard of hearing but you will be heard
[END PAGE TWENTY-SIX]
[BEGIN PAGE TWENTY-SEVEN]
Once again -- thank you for the honor you do me today
[END PAGE TWENTY-SEVEN]
[BEGIN PAGE TWENTY-EIGHT]
And to any older Americans listening to me today -- or barely listening to me today -- I say: get tested and get a hearing aid, if you need it. I guarantee you'll feel much younger again. I certainly do.
And now, let me close with a word of thanks for the opportunity to have been of some help in the world of hearing disorders this year. It's been a very rewarding experience . . . one that I know I share with all of you and all of your colleagues around the country.
Thank you.
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2011-08-03
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