Editor’s note: This is the first of two posts from the ongoing ASHA Connect Conference in Minneapolis. This post focuses on the health care side of the conference. The second focuses on the schools side.
For speech-language pathologists in private practice and health care, attending ASHA Connect is a slam-dunk: The sessions give them hands-on information they can use right away. The sessions—smaller and more in-depth than those at the ASHA Annual Convention held in November—offer specific clinical strategies and business tips, attendees say.
This is the first year for ASHA Connect, which began yesterday and runs through Sunday in Minneapolis. A combination of the former ASHA Schools Conference and Health Care/Business Institute, ASHA Connect is designed to meet the needs of SLPs working in schools, health care and private practice. The health care and business tracks focus on business leadership, business management and reimbursement, swallowing and swallowing disorders, adult neurogenic disorders and childhood clinical issues.
Erin Ingvalson of the Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minnesota, came to ASHA Connect for a preconference workshop sponsored by the Minnesota Speech-Language Hearing Association. “Effective Interdisciplinary Management of Mild-Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury” was a must-see for her, as she is writing a clinical practice guideline on this identical topic for her site.
Mary Below is a clinician at Aspirus Langlade Hospital—the only SLP in her hospital and within a 37-mile radius of Antigo, Wisconsin, three hours north of Madison. She describes herself as a “jack of all trades,” providing services in the critical access hospital to patients of all ages. “This is my fifth health care conference,” she says. “I come away with tons of in-depth information.” She also counts on the networking opportunities the conference provides.
Kelli Nelson, a clinician at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, treats adults with aphasia and cognitive difficulties from stroke and head injuries in inpatient acute rehabilitation. “I’ve never been to an ASHA health care conference before,” she says, “but I came this year because it’s only four hours away. I’m here to pick up some knowledge to better help the people I serve.”
Nelson’s Mercy Medical Center colleague Susan Fagg is also attending for the first time, but says she’s wanted to come “for years, because the courses always look so great.” She’s especially interested in sessions on head and neck cancer, as the incidence of the disease has increased in her patient population.
Sonja LaBarbera, rehab director at Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford, Connecticut, is looking for the most up-to-date information on technology. She’s interested in technological advances in rehabilitation techniques and also for updates on providing services by telepractice. “What does the future look like?” she asks. She is concerned about reimbursement for telepractice, and also for cognitive rehabilitation, a service “patients require more and more, but for which insurance is paying less and less.”
Private practitioner Jessie Noordyk calls ASHA Connect her favorite conference—she’s been attending “on and off” for 16 years. “I can take home practical information and put it into place right away,” she says. “I can apply it right now.” She started her solo practice—Chatterbox Speech and Language Therapy Services in Watertown, New York—two years ago, and is looking for business guidance. “I’m not running the practice—the practice is running me!” she says. “Referrals are up and I’m behind. I love what I do, but I’m not getting the nitty-gritty things done in a way that’s good for me. Should I hire part-time office help?”
Kay Miller of Swedish Hospital in Denver is at ASHA Connect for everything she can find out about swallowing, including treatment techniques and ethical dilemmas—both of which are covered in sessions in the swallowing and swallowing disorders track.
Blending the two formerly separate conferences helps private practices with contracts to provide services in schools. Bonnie Vest, owner of Vest Speech-Language Pathology Services in Stephens, Arkansas, has adult and pediatric clients as well as school contracts. She’s looking for information on treating people with brain injury—and also on billing Medicaid for school-based services.
Check out Monday’s blog for a report from the schools side of ASHA Connect.