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  • Writer's pictureEmily Halder

Speech and voice services in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

COVID-19 currently has nations on lockdown and people doing their best to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the disease. However, the pandemic doesn't stop people from needing services, including those for speech and voice. If you find yourself wanting services at this time, you should know that evaluation and treatment are still feasible. I offer Telepractice/Telehealth services which allow you to work on your goals from your computer, without risking social contact. Some people still prefer to do the evaluation in-person, but then use Telepractice for treatment sessions. In this way, they are limiting their exposure to others, but are still able to see me and establish that initial rapport in-person. Elbow bumps instead of handshakes and trying to maintain 6 feet of personal space during this evaluation can be done to reduce contact. Masks are difficult to use during most speech therapy sessions, but can be used in certain cases. If the weather is cooperative, sessions can also be done outside.

What are the limitations of Telepractice? Limitations include:

1) Evaluation of dysphagia (swallowing disorders): I recommend receiving a FEES (fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallow) or MBSS (modified barium swallow study) prior to starting dysphagia treatment via Telepractice, if possible. This way, we can begin your treatment with the most information about what is causing your swallowing problems and what areas we need to work on. This can usually be done at the hospital, if you are in-patient. If you are unable to get an instrumental evaluation, we can still work around this.

2) Medicare: Medicare has recently expanded coverage to cover Telepractice speech therapy services, with the exception of dysphagia (swallowing disorders). You do have the option to pay privately for Telepractice dysphagia services if needed, even if you are a Medicare beneficiary.

3) Insurance: If your services are typically covered by insurance, you will need to call your provider to determine if these services are still covered when done by Telepractice. This is policy dependent, so I can't give blanket statements about whether or not companies will cover Telepractice. However, Telepractice is being covered by most insurance providers now, due to the pandemic.

Call, text, or email to discuss services and the option of Telepractice if you're interested!

P: (828) 222-3824


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