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Speech Therapist Refuses to See Patients Without A Mouth

An old-fashioned doctor and nurse look concerned about a patient with no mouth.

Sally Gabby, newly hired speech therapist at Wintop Medical System in Chicago, Illinois says she’s committed to only seeing patients with mouths.

Currently, all six of the speech therapists in the Wintop speech therapy department see patients for swallow studies. They have all assumed that these patients have the commonly-taken-for-granted aperture -- a mouth.

“With the changes happening in healthcare, it’s more efficient that speech therapists see only those patients with mouths. I mean, what would happen if we were asked to evaluate a patient who didn’t have a mouth? When I think about it, that’s not one of my skill sets,” Gabby commented.

Laura Steed, director of speech therapy at Wintop, notes that, “Although it’s not a usual request, Wintop Medical looks forward to honoring Gabby’s preference.”

“I never thought about this as being a factor in seeing patients every day, but I get it. It makes perfect sense,” says Steed. “A speech therapist’s job is based on the existence of a mouth. Just think it took one of our newest speech therapists to help me with this realization. But that’s what we do at Wintop. We encourage next-level thinking.”

This perspective has also risen to the ranks of the C-suite as Francis Mott, MBA, Wintop CEO, seeks ways to better engage her staff.

“Having a mouth is crucial in deciding what meals to order for patients, for instance, nectar thick liquids versus honey thick. The food must have an entry point. That’s genius! Could you imagine the embarrassment of ordering honey thick liquids for a patient who doesn’t even have a mouth? This should do wonders for improving our patient safety,” commented Mott. “I expect our quality metrics to improve.”

This trend is apparently a strong driver for other hospitals over the nation as medical systems seek to function more efficiently, watch the bottom line, and improve quality metrics. We expect to see more hospitals focus on providing speech therapy for those patients who have mouths.



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