New boss on a learning curve
NEW Telethon Speech and Hearing chief executive Mark Fitzpatrick admits he still has a lot to learn about his new workplace, but already has something in common with clients.
The former St Vincent de Paul Society chief executive has been deaf in his right ear since a traumatic accident as a nine-year-old.
On Boxing Day in 1983, the Fitzpatricks were visiting a family a few doors down from their Stoneville home.
It was 24 degrees and all the children were in the pool before starting a game of backyard cricket.
Mr Fitzpatrick, the second oldest of four boys, went to retrieve a ball from the pergola when he fell 1.8 metres to the ground, landing on his head.
“I couldn’t walk and I was in hospital for five days,” he said.
“I was due to start at a new school the next year, but before then my parents worked out I wasn’t hearing well.
“There were times when I was really frustrated because I told teachers I couldn’t hear and they just put me at the front of the class.”
Mr Fitzpatrick said the linger- ing effects included having difficulty holding a conversation in a crowded room because he could not discern background noise.
“In a crowded environment I get tired quicker than most because I have to concentrate so much,” he said.
“But when I put my good ear to the pillow, I’m dead to the world.”
The father-of-two has spent the past five months implementing a better staff structure and creating enduring relationships at the Wembley facility, as well as learning about the speech and hearing space and the technology, including cochlear implants.
Mr Fitzpatrick said cochlear implants had significantly improved outcomes for children with hearing loss.
He said the focus was now on doing what Telethon Speech and Hearing does best: “To support kids with hearing loss or speech delay”.
Telethon Speech and Hearing will host its premier fundraising event, Artitude Amplified, on Saturday, July 15, at Crown Perth.
New Telethon Speech and Hearing chief executive Mark Fitzpatrick.