Sonic Innovations Inc

Sonic Innovations Inc, Salt Lake City, elected Robert W. Miller and Cherie M. Fuzzell to its Board of Directors on December 11. In addition, Richard V. Scott has joined the company as vice president of worldwide marketing.

Miller is an adjunct professor at Emory University School of Law. He practiced law in Atlanta from 1967 to 1997, and is a member of the Board of Directors for QuadraMed Corporation.

Fuzzell is general counsel of Nanoventions Inc. Prior to joining Nanoventions, Fuzzell was chief administrative officer and general counsel for NOVA Information Systems Inc. She was vice president of mergers and acquisitions for Magellan Health Services and a member of the international law firm of Jones Day.

Scott joins Sonic from Advanced Medical Optics (AMO), a spin-off company from Allergan Inc, where he held a similar position. Prior to AMO and Allergan, Scott held a number of marketing positions with Alcon Laboratories Inc.

Obituary – John K. Duffy

Audiology pioneer and professor John K. Duffy, PhD, died at his home in January. Duffy had recently suffered several strokes. He was 93.

After earning his PhD in 1949 at the University of Wisconsin, Duffy began his career by establishing the first academic audiology program at Brooklyn College in New York. He also established one of the first audiology and speech pathology centers at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He was in charge of the Audiology and Speech Pathology Department at Kings County Hospital where his college students received their clinical training and where the patient load embraced every hearing and speech disorder.

On a Fulbright Scholarship at the invitation of the Indian Medical Association, Duffy traveled throughout India, setting up the first hearing and speech centers, and brought many Indian students to the United States for training.

In the 1960’s, after a rubella epidemic in New York resulted in hundreds of babies born hard of hearing, Duffy—then at Lenox Hill Hospital—was among the first to place hearing aids on infants, followed by long, intensive therapy so that residual hearing could be utilized.

Duffy was among the first to sound the alarm against the overuse of antibiotics in young children with middle ear infections leading to ossified layers of the infected matter, resulting in hearing loss. He was also among the first to strive for the ending of too-early surgery on cleft palate children, a procedure with the potential for creating scar tissue in the palate, thereby stunting the natural growth of the upper jaw. A temporary plate to cover the cleft allowed the jaw to develop naturally. At several cerebral palsy centers that he served, he gave the gift of hearing to many disabled children and taught some of the most severely handicapped to communicate by using Morse Code with the eyelids.

During World War II, as a civilian, he was part of the Army Communication Center at Yale University. From there, he served in a military hospital, treating soldiers who returned from the war with hearing losses due to bombardment damage.

After retiring, he spent the rest of his career promoting a reading program for young children.

Duffy is survived by his wife of 66 years, Ruth, his son, Dr. David Duffy, and four grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Jane.

Better Hearing Institute

The Better Hearing Institute (BHI), Alexandria, Va, elected Brian Kinnerk, president of Unitron Hearing US, to a 1-year term as president. Kinnerk, who was elected on December 5, has served on BHI’s Board as vice president for 1 year and worked in the hearing industry for 17 years.

The Board also re-elected Jeff Taylor, president of Sonion, as secretary/treasurer. Cathy Jones, president of Phonak Inc, was re-elected to a seat on the BHI Board, and Jerry Ruzicka, president of Starkey Laboratories Inc, continues as a BHI director.

Three new Board members were elected: Paul Erickson of Amplifon; Ray Jones, BC-HIS, ACA, of Jones Audiology & Hearing Aid Centers; and William Luxford, MD, of the House Ear Clinic.

Obituary – Richard “Dick” Vessella

Richard “Dick” Vessella, BC-HIS, co-inventor of the jodi-vac hearing aid cleaning device, died in January. He was 53.

Vessella and co-inventor John Maidhof started the concept of jodi-vac in 1997 when envisioning ideas on how to keep CIC users utilizing their hearing aids for longer periods of time without having to bring them in for service. After experimenting with several ways of drying hearing aids, Maidhof found a mini vacuum pump with enough pull and flow to do the job.

Jodi-vac was established in 1998 as part of db’s Hearing Aid Service LLC, Portland, Ore. The company is now the main product line for Advanced Hearing Technologies LLC. It is located in Portland with a staff of 25 in the US and overseas.

Vessella had 25 years experience in the hearing care industry and was a licensed hearing instrument specialist in Oregon and Washington. Along with helping to develop verification testing for deep canal fittings, he served as a consultant to state regulatory bodies. He was also a professional jazz musician who played the trumpet.

Vessella is survived by his sister, Sharlene Giard, his fiancée Eileen O’Rourke, her children James, Heather, and Andy, and many nephews and nieces.

Remembrances may be made to the Shiner’s Hospital or the 1190 KEX Needy Kids Fund, both in Oregon.