Bellingham physician lends expertise to new surgical instrument.

Dr. David Olson has been working with the Grace Medical Company, who manufacture tools and prostheses for ENT surgery, for the past year creating a new line of instruments for otologic surgery. The tips of the instruments are coated with diamond dust, which provides for an ideal degree of friction when removing tumors and diseased tissue from the ear.

The company produced some prototypes, sent them around the country, and have decided to produce a line of instruments after receiving positive reviews. These tools were introduced and promoted at the national convention in Dallas in September 2015.

The instruments allow for improved handling of delicate tissues in the ear, and have revolutionized his own approach to surgery.



Clean water project at Holden Village leads to prized Taylor guitars

Whatcom Community Foundation works with donors on world-wide goals
By Mauri Ingram

Dr. David Olson is an ear, nose and throat specialist. That’s his day job. In a previous life, Olson was a spruce ecologist. Olson is a husband, a father and a man of faith. He is also a musician (he plays the guitar). You could describe him as a Renaissance man.

On top of a plethora of interests, Olson also thinks about water … a lot.

holden-villageOlson frequently visits Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center in eastern Washington near Lake Chelan. The village is the site of a long-inactive copper mine where there is a monumental clean-up effort underway. The goal: clean the contaminated water. The project involves diverting and realigning waterways, which requires cutting down numerous trees. During a 2013 visit, Olson recognized that some of those trees were old-growth Engelmann spruce.

 This particular sub-species of spruce is prized by guitar makers for the wood’s warm tone and “quick” response to a light touch, making it truly premium tonewood (wood used to manufacture musical instruments). Looking up at those 250-year-old spruce trees, Olson saw a cycle of rejuvenation that extended far beyond the clean-up site. He wanted to save the trees from their planned fate as firewood. He wanted those trees to be heard. And, he wanted them to make a difference in the world: to be transformed into guitars with a portion of the sales proceeds flowing to organizations helping to bring clean water to people in Central America.

Olson took his brainchild to his friend Steve McMinn, who owns Pacific Rim Tonewoods, a leading supplier of premium tonewoods for guitars and other stringed instruments. Steve is a smart businessman and – friend or not – no easy sell. McMinn initially dismissed the idea, too many moving parts and too many parties required to get the job done. That resistance softened into enthusiasm.

holden guitarTaylor Guitars, a well-known name among musicians and music lovers, is one of McMinn’s clients. Company president Bob Taylor is also a friend. Long story short, Taylor agreed. (Taylor’s participation is not surprising. In late January, Bob Taylor received the Award for Corporate Excellence. The U.S. State Department recognition honors the company’s transformative work in the ebony trade. The annual award recognizes U.S.-owned businesses that play vital roles around the world as good corporate citizens.) 

McMinn donated local maple with a unique character for the sides and back of the guitar, as well as all the milling and transportation required to get the wood to Taylor. Add to the roster Living Waters for the World and El Porvenir, two U.S.-based clean water organizations working in Central America, and the team was nearly complete.

Here in Whatcom County, we are conflicted about water. We loathe the rain and love the resource. As problems go, we’re lucky.

It is almost meaningless when we talk about numbers in the billions. While that is the scale of this international problem, just imagine that we’re talking about you. Imagine that every day you had to worry about whether the water you drink would make you or your children sick or worse. Just imagine.

It’s a complicated story because there are five organizations and an inspired physician involved in turning one man’s great idea into clean water for people who lack it. At the Community Foundation, we appropriately focus most of our resources locally. So what are we doing in this story? When we say that we work with our donors to help achieve their philanthropic goals, we mean it. Even when those goals extend beyond the borders of Whatcom County. We help keep the many parts moving. We also have the privilege of turning gifts from Taylor Guitars into grants that will be transformed into clean water.

World Water Day was this past Saturday. Dr. David Olson cared enough about the fundamental struggles being experienced by people a world away to make this World Water Day a little brighter. Opportunities for improving lives are all around us. What will you think about the next time you take a walk in the woods?

View this article at Bellingham Herald.

To learn more about the Limited Edition Holden Village Taylor GS Mini, visit whatcomcf.org/wp/guitar.

Dr. Olson to instruct at two regional conferences this winter

Dr. David Olson, a local specialist in otologic surgery (ears and hearing), has been invited to instruct other Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeons at two conferences this winter. The Northwest Academy of Otolaryngology will hold its annual meeting on January 11 in Seattle, and Dr. Olson is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion of pediatric otology with other experts from Washington State. Then, in March, Dr. Olson will instruct at the Seattle Otology and Advanced Rhinology Conference (SOAR).

The SOAR Conference will bring together distinguished faculty from across the United States as well as abroad. Dr. Olson has now had the honor of serving on this faculty for the second year in a row. State of the art surgical techniques will be discussed and demonstrated at this conference, including some of Dr. Olson’s innovations – another example of the cutting edge medicine being practiced at Bellingham ENT.

Dr.Lichtenberger teaches his eyelid procedure technique

Dr. Lichtenberger was among the faculty at a 2-day medical resident education course held November 14 to 16 at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. In addition to Dr. Lichtenberger, facial plastic surgeons from UW, Swedish and Virginia Mason, among others in the Seattle area, as well as from Oregon Health & Science University, Stanford in California, and from Vancouver, BC, Canada, provided lectures and surgical instruction in facial plastic and reconstructive.

Dr. Lichtenberger performed a demonstration of eyelid procedures to residents and assisted in teaching all aspects of facial surgery. Residents from Portland-area hospitals, Madigan Army Medical Center, and UW—in fields such as dermatology; ophthalmology; ear, nose and throat; and plastic surgery—were in attendance.


Dr.Verneuil speaks on swallowing problems
How Botox can help with speech and swallowing disorders

Dr. Andrew Verneuil from Bellingham ENT was invited to give a presentation to the annual meeting of the Washington State Speech Language Pathology Association (WSHLA) as a part of the Dysphagia symposium. This meeting was held on October 12th for all the speech pathologist in Washington state. His lecture was on dysphagia (swallowing problems) related to cricopharyngeal muscle spasm and Zenker’s diverticulum. He covered the state of the art treatments that are currently being done by the physicians of Bellingham ENT. These include BOTOX injections to the cricopharyngeus muscle, cricopharyngeal myotomy, and Zenker’s diverticulum surgery both traditional and minimally invasive endoscopic surgery. The physicians of Bellingham ENT work closely with speech pathologist to develop a team approach to patients with speech and swallowing disorders.


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