February 1, 2013 Departments

Inbox: February 2013

Kudos to ASHA

I would like to send two kudos to my favorite organization, ASHA!

I attended my first ASHA convention in 1962. The 2012 convention was the best conference EVER! I was so touched by Maya Angelou and Gabby Giffords. I will never forget their presentations.

I also really appreciate the new ASHA Leader format. I can now easily copy an article for filing, hold the entire issue on the trolley without needing so much space, and easily pack the issue in my tote to read when spare moments pop up.

The content is excellent! It's easy to access and yes, perhaps I will write an article. I have just retired and have a little spare time (not much!). Thanks so much and keep up the good work!

Bonnie Greenberg
Waban, Mass.

Reporting Child Abuse

I appreciated the article on child abuse ("Protecting theMost Vulnerable From Abuse," Nov. 20, 2012). SLPs and audiologists are required by law in most states to report suspected abuse. Note that communication professionals have a unique role in making sure children (as well as vulnerable adults) with significant communication disabilities are understood and listened to when they attempt to report. In the field of victim services, it is often said that "the best victim is the one who can't tell."

Amy S. Goldman
Philadelphia, Pa.

Inspiring Memories

While reviewing the recent Leader article "Speaking Up About Memories" (Oct. 30, 2012), I was reminded of the inspiring work of my graduate school professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, Joyce Harris, and her strong focus on providing meaningful, functional therapy for our clients. Much to my delight, I realized she was the author of this article that so accurately reflected her views.

As I look back on my 30-year career, I recognize the huge impact this insightful, funny, strong woman had on my vocational choices and my clinical practice. She showed how to bring meaning to potentially repetitive treatment tasks and how to provide the personal touch that encouraged her clients to reach great heights. She inspired her students through her stories and her unparalleled work ethic.

Joyce Harris moved on to attain her PhD and to touch the lives of many other speech-language pathologists throughout her career. I can only imagine the number of lives she has positively affected, both directly through her own clinical practice and indirectly through the practice of her many students who proudly follow her lead in providing functional treatment for their clients. As she is inspiring me once again, I am now speaking up about my memories to say "thank you" to the woman who helped make them so rewarding.

Penny Greene Leslie
El Paso, Texas

Fighting Fraud

Thank you for the Nov. 20 article on fraud and ethical dilemmas. Ethical dilemmas occur daily in large rehabilitation companies—an experience common among SLPs I know—because facilities get paid according to the patient's rehab category, which is based on how many therapy minutes the patient receives.

The companies I worked for stated they tolerated no fraud. However, I was consistently assigned to treat patients 55 minutes daily, even before I had evaluated them. When I questioned the patient's need for any treatment—never mind 55 minutes—I was told, "You need to justify your position" or "Every patient has the right to therapy to help them achieve their maximum potential." Pressure was particularly strong for Medicare B patients.

A manager once wrote me up for coming in three minutes under. I left that job when a new manager stated, "I'm all about the numbers."

I complained that my professional judgments were overruled by someone not trained in speech-language pathology and that I was pressured to see patients who did not need treatment. I referred them to ASHA's Board of Ethics. It made no difference.

ASHA should pressure companies to modify their culture by inviting SLPs to report such situations and notifying companies about the complaints and referring them for investigation. Without strong support, clinicians can do little and risk losing their jobs.

I hope ASHA sees this as an opportunity to develop its presence as a professional organization that insists its members be treated with respect and valued for their knowledge and expertise.

Diana von Hallett
Brunswick, Maine


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