Telehealth It Works For Us

It works for INTEGRIS

INTEGRIS ventured into the telehealth market in 1999 with a pilot project to do telespeech. It has expanded and now INTEGRIS is using this form of medicine to reach patients in rural areas of Oklahoma who have recently had a stroke and are in need of an assessment, or others who need mental health services. INTEGRIS continues to provide speech language services as well.

Currently, INTEGRIS telehealth speech language pathologists are serving over 150 children and have contracts with eight different rural school districts. In the last year, the INTEGRIS Cochlear Implant Clinic has utilized their SoonerStart contract to help families access services for children following their cochlear implant activation.

Technology is exciting and scary at the same time. You might ask, how is my child or I going to get the information that we need through a TV screen. Part of it is that the speech language pathologist is going to be empowering you to follow through with the suggestions. Because, we all know that one hour of speech therapy a week is not what helps a child or an adult learn to listen.

It is what you do in your everyday real world activities that make the difference. The speech pathologist is there to guide you through.

For teens and adults, teletherapy would be ideal to help a person in discriminating the difference between one versus two versus three syllable words or rhyming words.

Does insurance cover teletherapy? Right now most do not cover teletherapy. The speech services are through contracts with local school districts or Oklahoma’s Early Intervention. However, check with your insurance carrier in the future.

It works for us!

My name is Kerenda Wood and I am the mother of a child who was born deaf. My son Maverick Xander was born in January 2009 and was diagnosed at the age of 6 months with profound hearing loss in both ears. My husband and I viewed Maverick’s diagnosis as a gift and a challenge that we knew we could overcome. He wore a pair of hearing aids for 6months. During those 6 months he was tested and evaluated to see if there were any responses and possibilities of him being able to hear with the hearing aids.

The doctors set us up with a program called SoonerStart, which allowed a speech/language pathologist (Kathie) to come to our home once a week and work with Maverick and our family. We were taught sign language and worked on different techniques to interact with Maverick to help him learn.

Before the 6 months were up, we knew that he was still not hearing anything even with the help of the hearing aids. After talking with the doctors and doing some tests, it was decided that Maverick was a great candidate for cochlear implants. In March of 2010 Maverick had his first surgery and received his first implant in his right ear, and in August of 2010 he had his second surgery and received the implant in his left ear.

Following each surgery, a period of 3 to 4 weeks of healing time was allowed before Maverick was able to be fit with the outer transmitter (the final piece needed for him to be able to hear).

Along with his weekly home visits with SoonerStart, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly visits to Oklahoma City to the Cochlear Implant Clinic were added, to work with our speech language pathologist (Amy) and our audiologist (Kela). With months of driving back and forth from Ponca City to Oklahoma City (1 ½ hour drive one way) every other week a new system called teletherapy was created.

At one of our bi-weekly visits to Oklahoma City, my husband and I sat in a meeting to have the teletherapy session explained to us and to set up our first session. The way our teletherapy sessions work is we are able to meet every other week at our local Health Department in Ponca City and are able to have live sessions via satellite with both our speech-language pathologists.

Our SoonerStart therapist, Kathie, meets us at the Health Department in a conference room where there is a camera and a TV set up so that Amy can interact with us and Maverick from the Oklahoma City location.

Being able to take Maverick to teletherapy has not only added extra sessions of working with Maverick but it has offered Kathie and Amy a chance to work together with Maverick on observing and finding different ways to teach him things that work well with his personality. While Kathie and I work or do an activity with Maverick, Amy will say something or make a sound to interact with him and get him to recognize the sound coming from the TV and not from us in the room. Watching him recognize Amy’s voice coming from the TV and actually looking at the TV when he hears her say something or make a sound, is so exciting. Just the fact of being able to see and know that he heard her, or that sound that she made, is a wonderful feeling. I know my baby can hear now and he is learning more and more every day with the help of Kathie and Amy through our live sessions and our teletherapy sessions.

My family and I are so grateful for you all. Thank you for making this a wonderful experience!

Kerenda Wood
Ponca City, OK