March 29, 2019

Speech pathology department overjoyed with successful grant

The speech pathology department at Northern Health, recently received a grant from the Northern Health Foundation for a Fibre Optic Videolaryngoscopy, to support Fibreoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) assessments in patients who have swallowing difficulties.

Associate Director Allied Health, Speech Pathology, Audiology & Orthoptics, Emma Beer, was overjoyed when she heard the news about the successful grant.

“It was a mixture of relief, overwhelming happiness and achievement for the speech pathology department to receive this support from the Northern Health Foundation,” she said.

“Now that we have FEES, we are able to upskill our staff and provide the safest and best approach for our patients.”

From a clinical perspective, the new equipment will enable timely assessment of patients presenting with swallowing problems. As the equipment is portable, it can be wheeled to a patient’s bedside and they can be assessed and provided with a management and nutrition plan on the day they present, as opposed to previously having to wait a couple of days for assessment.

“The more efficient assessment of a patient will have a positive impact on length of stay and reduce anxiety due to reduced waiting times,” Emma says.

“For staff, it will improve their skill development as well as retention and recruitment. If people know we have FEES, it’s another skill avenue they can pursue and it’s also a great attribute to recruit new staff.”

The future is exciting for speech pathology, with a small research grant already received in the area of FEES, and the ability to undertake research in the field.

“We’re hoping we can present our research findings at forums, conferences and in the future, do publications around FEES and Videolaryngoscopy.”

Videolaryngoscopy utilises video camera technology to see airway structures and facilitate endotracheal intubation (placement of a flexible plastic tube into the windpipe to maintain an open airway or to serve as an outlet to administer certain medications).

The new equipment will support effective clinical assessments of patients with dysphagia, a disease that creates difficulty or discomfort when swallowing. Without effective clinical assessment, this condition can lead to aspiration pneumonia and other respiratory complications.

The Northern Health Foundation is the philanthropic and fundraising arm of Northern Health and aims to raise $4 million for equipment and research between now and 2021.

Featured Image: Emma reviewing FEES image via Videolaryngoscopy.