Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Speech Clinic Doubled Its Patient Load

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Speech Clinic Doubled Its Patient Load

Article excerpt

Sitting at a computer hidden in a corner behind a wall of toys and posters at the Wolfson Children's Speech Clinic, Carol Erskine tries to keep 3-year-old Corby Cowart interested in the story playing on the screen.

"Corby, what does the fly say?" she asks. "Bzzz. Bzzz. Bzzz."

"Bizza. Bizza. Bizza," Corby replies, trying to mimic the sound.

Erskine smiles and moves on to another question, trying to keep him talking about the story. Eventually he spots a toy truck and loses his concentration.

Corby is one of the 135 patients Erskine and six other speech pathologists at the clinic see each week. In the two years since it opened, the number of patients has doubled.

So today, the clinic is relocating from its cramped quarters in the Baptist Medical Pavilion to larger offices in the Howard Building, still within the Baptist Medical Center complex.

Erskine and the other speech pathologists at the clinic work with children who have developmental speech and language delays; oral and motor skill deficiencies; articulation problems; and voice, eating and swallowing disorders.

"The demand for therapy continues to grow in the city," said Terri McDearman, clinical supervisor of the speech clinic. Two years ago, a three-person staff saw 50-60 patients each week. Now the group sees about 135 children a week.

McDearman attributes most of the program's growth to help from the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, a nationwide organization that raises money for children with language disorders.

"Most insurance doesn't cover for therapy, and parents have to pay out-of-pocket, which is expensive," McDearman said.

Each therapy session costs between $45 and $85, she added, but with Scottish Rite funding, parents only have to pay $22. This has then made it easier for parents to bring their children in at an earlier age for a diagnosis. …

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