UHP Staff Feature: The Quiet Heroism of Dr. Lisa Taniguchi
January 11, 2019 —
Written by Marybeth Kotrodimos
There is no question that UHP has some of the very best doctors in Hawaii. A glance at their profiles in our online directory reveals a group of individuals whose education and breadth of experience is indeed impressive. What really stands out, however, is their dedication to their work, a dedication that leads so many of our practitioners to go above and beyond the great demands of their positions to volunteer their time and energy to helping people live happier and healthier lives.
Dr. Lisa Taniguchi, the Clinic Coordinator at The University of Hawaii Speech and Hearing Clinic, (aka CSD for Communication and Speech Disorders) is a UHP doctor who most definitely fits that description. A line in her profile on our UHP website reads, “Aside from teaching, she has a passion for community outreach in providing hearing screenings and spreading awareness of hearing healthcare.” This passion is evident in the long list of projects and events to which she has generously given her time, expertise, and energy.
Dr. Taniguchi tells us that she was drawn to audiology early on through her work with the Special Olympics, an organization that has since benefited from her considerable skills and dedication. Her work for the Special Olympics includes partnering with other audiologists to test the special athletes’ hearing at an all-day event at UH Manoa Campus in which medical practitioners of various specialties offer health screenings to those participating in Special Olympics.
Dr. Taniguchi (in top photo, fifth from top row) is pictured with volunteers, including students from the CSD program. On the bottom picture, volunteers assist with a hearing test on a Special Olympics participant.
She offers regular hearing screenings for children and youth. An example of her work with young people includes her participation in the Children and Youth Day events offered every October at our capital where, she tells us in her humble and unassuming manner, where she and her team “do things like look in children’s ears for wax.”
Though Dr. Taniguchi has devoted much time and effort into helping children and young adults, one of her primary focuses is on helping the kupuna of our community. She regularly conducts screenings at senior housing facilities and events for seniors. She is also active on the Healthy Aging Panel, which attempts to educate managers of condo complexes with a senior population on the issues of hearing and vision loss in their residents. Her presentations address such topics as “Aging in Place” such as the one she did recently for a condo association, regarding helping people live independently in their own homes as they reach advanced age.
Dr. Taniguchi (third from right, in stripes) was part of a panel at the Palolo Chinese Home in September.
She facilitates meetings of a group of stroke victims who come together on Saturdays to practice communication skills. This is not, she tells us, a support group, but a clinic where the patients can work on regaining the communication skills that might have been lost when they suffered a stroke.
Her active community outreach also includes a heavy schedule of giving presentations as part of her effort to make people aware of the importance and availability of good hearing healthcare. In the past year, her presentations have been on such topics as “Communicating with Loved Ones with Hearing Loss” at the Palolo Senior Health & Wellness Day event, “New Hearing Aid Technology” at Kahala Nui Senior Living Home, “Healthy Brain Aging and Dementia: Optimizing Communication” at St. Francis Healthcare systems of Hawaii, “Hearing Loss: Presbycusis and Otoxicity” for the Head and Neck Support Group at The Queen’s Medical Center, and one titled, “Can you hear me now?” at the Dr. Rosita Leong Mini-Medical School on Healthy Aging, among others.
When asked about her outreach activities, Dr. Taniguchi says, “Whenever there’s an opportunity for us to get out there, we’re out there.” And somehow, there is no hint of bragging in her words, only humility and kindness.
Despite her many accomplishments, she remains approachable, and obviously, happy to serve our community. We are truly lucky and proud to have Dr. Lisa Taniguchi in our ohana.
More to come on CSD: We were just informed that The UH Speech and Hearing Clinic has been named the recipient of a grant from the Oscar & Rosetta Fish Fund. We are told that though it has been a team effort, Dr. Taniguchi, Dr. Mashima, and Dr. Noel of CSD, especially, are to be thanked for the clinic receiving this award. In addition, CSD has not only been active in community outreach but in global outreach as well. For example, Dr. Henry Lew and Barbara Ward, of CSD helped to establish the first-ever accredited speech pathology program in China. Students in Japan and Taiwan have been able to participate in cultural exchange events and clinical training due to the efforts of the staff at CSD. We look forward to telling you more about the grant and this group of heroes in our midst in our next newsletter.