Thoughts from a Traveling Speech Pathologist

In the last few days, a lot has happened in our world. Kids have lost all routine and structure that they are used to. Parents and caregivers have also lost that daily routine. Now you have parents trying to figure out the best way to help their child with school. To top it off, everything is CLOSED. No movies, no gyms, no bars, no eating out at your favorite restaurant… nada! Medical professionals are working long hours to care for everyone. But let me tell you something…your SLPs in the medical field are struggling too. Your home health SLPs are struggling. Your private practice SLPs, yeah, they are struggling too.

Let me go ahead and tell you my thoughts. It’s my blog so I have the right to do it. If you don’t like it or agree with it, move on. I am a pediatric speech pathologist in private practice. I travel to all of my clients homes, day cares, and private schools. My service area is 4 counties wide. That’s pretty big in Texas. I spend a good majority of my time in my car during the week…and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Oh, and let me go ahead and add-I work alone. No administrative assistant, no social media specialist, no billing specialist. Again, I prefer it that way.

Now that you know what I do PREFER, let me tell you what I don’t like. I don’t like that my little friends’ lives have all been turned upside down. Everything they knew is messed up (to put it nicely). Their school is closed. They can’t go to their friend’s house. Mom or Dad are home now because one or both have lost their job. They miss their teacher. They miss their friends. They miss their sports, dance classes or music lessons. Some of those families have had to stop speech therapy services due to financial uncertainty. I don’t like it.

I have lost families due to this nasty virus going around currently. Some have medically fragile kiddos. Some parents are auto-immune. Some are first responder parents who may have been exposed. At any rate, I can’t fault them for their decision because they are doing what is right for them. I would do the same thing if I was in their shoes. As most private practice SLPs know, cancellations mean no income. It sucks. I don’t like it.

But in any effort to keep those families and continue making progress, I am trying my hand at teletherapy. Guess what? I don’t like it either. I like the social interaction of being around kids, parents and teachers all day. Seeing the delight on a little one’s face when he finally gets that /k/ sound is amazing! Hearing a mom’s voice crack when she hears her little one use real words in therapy for the first time is tear jerking. I realize there are teletherapists all over the country and they love it. I am not one of those therapists. But for the time being, I am one of those therapists. But not full time because, well, insurance and Medicaid don’t cover teletherapy. That sucks too. I don’t like it. “Here let’s put in regulations that make it dang near impossible for you to be out working. But that “loophole” that you found to continue working while virtually seeing patients, yea we are NOT paying for that! We’ll cover the doctors but SLPs aren’t important enough for that.” We are not “essential” care.

Can you believe that crap? We are not “essential.” Tell the momma of the 11 year old with Autism on an AAC device that his SLP is not essential. Tell the family of the 2 year old on a feeding tube that we are not essential. So while we are struggling to continue care and maintain progress with children, sanitizing each and every toy we use, and balancing paperwork, we also have to fight tooth and nail to lobby for our services to be covered. We already fight that battle when we see clients in person since {again} insurance will find a loophole to not cover speech therapy.

I realize this sounds like a giant pity party but like I said earlier…if you don’t like it, move on. This is my blog. These are my feelings at the moment. It’s the first week of dealing with all of this mess, and I don’t like it. I am sure I speak for a quite a few private SLPs that are home-based. We don’t like it.

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