Health System Recognizes Speech and Language Month

BRUNSWICK, Georgia: May 25, 2010 – May is “Better Hearing and Speech Month” and Southeast Georgia Health System would like to recognize the work done by its five speech pathologists—Lydia Hutto, B.J. Jopling and Susan Lunsford at the Brunswick Campus and Mimi Daconceicao and Lucy Barlow at the Camden Campus.

According to Randy Thompson, director of Rehabilitation Services at the Health System’s Brunswick Campus, speech language pathologists do much more than just treating auditory speech problems. “These specially trained professionals generally have Master’s degrees and they treat individuals with a wide range of speech, language and communication disorders and specialize in treating people who have swallowing problems that occur after such events as a stroke,” Thompson says. “They are also trained to evaluate traumatic brain injuries, head and neck cancers, patients with tracheotomies and ventilators, spinal cord injuries, as well as neurological disorders such as ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease), Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s, Down’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and delayed development in children.”

The service that the Health System’s speech pathologists provide to both inpatients and outpatients is invaluable, says Jeff Zawislak, manager of Rehabilitation Services at the Health System’s Camden Campus. “Our speech pathologists play important roles in our team’s treatment of patients with a variety of needs,” Zawislak says. “Speech pathology services impact patients from the very young to the elderly and having experienced professionals providing this care allows us to serve all of out patients.”

B.J. Joplin, who has worked as a speech pathologist for 26 years, discovered the field when she was working as a physical education teacher and she has never looked back. “I love working with kids and seem to have a way with them,” says Joplin, who primarily works with children, including those with autism, at the Brunswick Campus’ Outpatient Rehabilitation Care Center. “I mostly work with children speech and language articulation difficulties, but also see children and adults with other problems. It is great to be able to watch them progress and feel that you are really making a difference.” Lydia Hutto and Lucy Barlow say they especially like to work with patients who have swallowing difficulties. “I love the one-on-one interaction my work provides,” says Hutto, who has been a speech pathologist for two years and primarily works with residents at the Senior Care Center-Brunswick. “I enjoy helping people overcome their swallowing difficulties and also like to work with them on cognitive problems and issues with memory loss.”

Barlow, who has worked for 28 years as a speech pathologist and currently works part-time at the Outpatient Rehabilitation Care Center at the Camden Campus, says she discovered the field of speech therapy when studying special education in college. “I found myself fascinated by the way people communicate so I decided to find out what I could do in the field,” Barlow says. “I didn’t initially realize the filed is so vast and thought I would be working with people who stutter when, in fact, a very small percentage of the patients we work with do.” She says she now loves working with those with swallowing difficulties and children diagnosed with autism. “Figuring out the puzzle and being able to help someone is very rewarding,” she says.

For more information, call the Outpatient Rehabilitation Care Center in Brunswick at 912-466-5330 or the Camden Campus Outpatient Care Center at 912-576-6450.