Clinic Update - 2011
Telepractice is an emerging form of service delivery in speech-language pathology and was recently approved by the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation and is supported by ASHA. This past year Kate Harrington, a CDS graduate student, and Rebecca Throneburg became certified in Lee Silverman Voice Therapy for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. This training was a part of the methodology for Kate’s thesis and has allowed the Clinic to offer this treatment both on-site and via on-line distance technology. A side benefit of Kate’s research is that the Clinic has initiated a discussion about hosting and coordinating the area’s Parkinson’s Support Group which, if comes about, would offer educational benefits to both these patients and our students.
As we have continued to acquire an array of augmentative communication devices and switches, the Clinic is gaining a reputation as a regional center for AAC evaluation. Referrals from the east central Illinois area have steadily increased over the past two years as some faculty have become recognized authorities offering training at regional and state-wide conferences.
This fall, the Clinic will be instituting ICD Diagnostic Codes and CPT Procedural Codes as part of our billing process. The purpose is twofold: To familiarize student clinicians with billing practices in other settings and to assist clients and their parents with obtaining third party reimbursement. Tena McNamara and Brenda Wilson, who continue as consultants and practitioners in outside entities, have been instrumental in moving the Clinic in this direction.
One issue all clinicians wrestle with at one time or another is when to dismiss a client who is making marginal gains. While training programs may prepare student clinicians well for diagnosis and treatment, it is often issues related to discharge from therapy that may be neglected as part of a student clinician’s training. This past year, the faculty engaged in discussions to develop discharge criteria from therapy. It was only after lengthy discussions and careful consideration of the ASHA Code of Ethics and review of ASHA Preferred Practice Pattern documents that supervisors agreed on discharge criteria for the Clinic that take into consideration the communication, feeding and cultural needs of clients, the range of intervention techniques employed, influencing behavioral variables involved in a client’s case, and the training needs of students. The criteria are available upon request.
During this Clinic Update we would once again like to take time to feature one of our long-time clients, Hannah Cheatham. Hannah is 18 years old now and has been coming to the Clinic since the summer of 2003. She is the youngest of five children. Her sister is a nurse at Carle Hospital in Champaign, and her brothers work on the family farm. After she was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth, Elaine Good was the first speech-language pathologist to work with Hannah. Elaine was instrumental in educating the entire family, addressing their fears about the future, and providing encouragement for Hannah’s development. Hannah’s goals at the Clinic have focused on building both her expressive and receptive language skills. She has participated in individual, as well as group therapy and has become a rather talkative, social person. Hannah would most certainly be classified as a “people person.” She goes on nursing home visits and writes letters to some of the residents who live there. She has also made numerous friends through church. Her favorite activities in therapy have been those that allowed her to walk around the Clinic and introduce herself to new people. Hannah’s mother, Ruth Cheatham, commented that Hannah teaches her entire family patience and unconditional love. She has taught her family about dedication as well. Hannah faithfully speed walks approximately three miles on the treadmill every day. She has even inspired her mother to begin exercising. One of Hannah’s favorite things to do is to go out to eat. She also enjoys making up songs on her guitar. Approximately 20 clinicians have had the opportunity to work with and learn from Hannah throughout the years she has attended the Clinic. When we commented that Hannah could start charging for all the clinicians she has help train, she agreed enthusiastically! Hannah enjoys working with a new clinician each semester because she loves meeting new people. In fact, she has taken a picture with each clinician she has ever had as a memento. And she also has enjoyed getting to know the faculty. As she told us, “Dr. Dell is my buddy!” Hannah would appreciate hearing from any of her former clinicians. Letters and cards can be mailed to: Hannah Cheatham, 2161 Illinois Highway 133, Kansas, IL 61933. Hannah can also be reached by calling her at 217-346-2878.