At Colquitt Regional, the speech pathology department is fully staffed and has a combined total of more than 50 years of experience. They work with patients of all ages and in a variety of settings including inpatient, outpatient, Home Health, private preschools, daycares, and at the Culbertson Head Start site. Speech pathology services at Colquitt Regional have continually grown over the years due to the loyalty, dedication, passion for serving those in need, and expansion of knowledge base through continuing education by the department’s director and staff members. Collectively, the director and staff have earned six awards for continuing education.
Partnerships with local universities have also been critical to the growth of speech pathology services at Colquitt Regional. They’ve partnered with the Valdosta State University Communication and Sciences Disorders program as they prepare graduate level interns for clinical rotations. They have also received received graduate interns from the University of Georgia and the University of Pennsylvania; and prepared several out-of-state graduate interns to return home to other states to practice, including New York, Colorado, Kentucky, and Florida.
Hosting graduate interns is a win-win situation that requires them to stay on top of their game at all times. Speech pathology is an everchanging field with an extended scope of practice. Colquitt Regional bridges the gap between roles of the educational SLP and the medical SLP.
“This was one of my goals when establishing the program in 1994,” Renee Crosby, Director of Speech Pathology, said. “I personally and professionally wanted to serve all age groups for both educational and medical needs. It has been quite a journey, but I can confidently say we’ve accomplished this goal.”
In most cases, an SLP has to choose to work in a school or medical setting. Colquitt Regional has the best of both worlds.
Another significant partner has been the Colquitt County school system for literacy support. While the school system employs their own staff of SLPs, Colquitt Regional serves the birth to three population, then transition the students into the school system’s pre-K program. They continue to share some of the students who warrant services in the school and private setting. Additional support is offered by providing the school system with evaluations to help expedite the process to obtain services within the schools.
In 2012, Colquitt Regional decided to embrace literacy and incorporate one of the most researched-based programs on the market. While there are no guarantees, studies show this program will help 80 percent of students using it. They’ve had success using this program with some of their more traditional stroke and brain injury patients.
By adding the literacy support program, aka the Learning Center, Colquitt Regional experienced a growth greater than 40% percent within a fiscal year. This program is web-based and allows them to reach students within surrounding counties and even out of state. To date, they’ve served approximately 500 students on this program alone with results that include advancing a student’s reading level as much as two years within six to 12 weeks. Results vary with all students.
Language, literacy and cognitive deficits do not resolve quickly, making the jobs of SLPs challenging as they face a drive-thru world with high demands of the consumer to produce as quickly as possible. As the director, Crosby is charged with the responsibility to ensure Colquitt Regional has the sharpest tools in their toolbox and access to the highest quality education, ensuring strong skillsets. While there are a lot of programs, software, and tools on the market, it’s the job of the staff at Colquitt Regional to research the best for those they serve. The vision at Colquitt Regional is to be a superior provider of quality and compassionate healthcare, and their mission is to exceed expectations.
What do Speech Pathologists Do?
Speech-language pathologists help people who have trouble speaking, whether the cause be physical – such as problems with the voice, language, or swallowing – or mental – such as problems with social or cognitive communication. SLPs treat individuals of all ages, often working not just to diagnose and treat patients but to identify and prevent potential problems too.
Speech Disorders include difficulty producing speech sounds, disruptions in fluent speech, and problems with voice resonance. Voice changes could be a result of vocal nodules or contact ulcers on the vocal cords or of airway reflux.
Language Disorders can be both spoken and written and may involve the form (phonology, morphology, syntax), content or vocabulary, or the use of language in functional and socially appropriate ways. Language disorders often accompany learning differences such as dyslexia and are characterized by having trouble understanding others and sharing ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
Swallowing Disorders may be a result of illness, injury, or surgery and are characterized by difficulties feeding and swallowing.
Social Communication Disorders can often be found in individuals with autism spectrum disorder or those with traumatic brain injuries. Social communication disorders include having trouble with the social use of verbal and nonverbal communication.
Cognitive-Communication Disorders can occur as a result of a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or dementia, but they may also be congenital. Cognitive communication disorders include difficulty problem solving, organizing thoughts, and paying attention as well as problems with memory and planning.
• Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation for impaired muscles for speech and swallowing; may also be used with Bell’s Palsy
• Modified Barium Swallow Study to be performed in diagnostic imaging in conjunction with a radiologist
• Flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing and voice where a flexible scope is passed transnasaly, requiring only topical anesthesia
• Oropharyngeal pH study that measures pH levels in upper airway to rule out reflux. Patients with chronic cough, excessive throat clearing, burning sensation in throat, hoarseness, chronic sore throat, excessive post-nasal drip, difficulty swallowing, and restless sleep may benefit from this test. Small amounts of reflux are normal; however, abnormal amounts left untreated can lead to damage to throat, upper airway, and lungs; vocal cord nodules; airway narrowing; granulomas; and even cancer.
Colquitt Regional Speech Pathology Services is located at the Vereen Rehabilitation Center.
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