Speech-Language Therapy Services offered by UM Shore Regional Health


May is Better Speech and Hearing Month – a good time to learn about speech and language problems for adults and children, according to speech and language pathologist Amy Beth Hellman, UM SRH Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services.

Amy Beth Hellman provides speech-language therapy at Shore Rehab at Easton.

In adults, speech and language problem scan result from various causes, including brain injury, stroke, and brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. They can also stem from breathing problems, cancers in the head and/or neck region, and voice damage. Speech and language disorders that may be acquired in adulthood include the following:

Aphasia – problems speaking, understanding, reading, writing, telling time, and/or using numbers, often caused by stroke.
Cognitive-communication disorders – difficulty paying attention, remembering, organizing thoughts, and solving problems.
Apraxia of speech -caused by damage to the parts of the brain involved in speaking.
Dysarthria – speech difficulties due to weakness of muscles involved in breathing and/or speaking.
Voice disorders – Changes in pitch, loudness and vocal quality due to diseases such as Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis, and others.

According to Hellman, who works with patients at Shore Rehab Center at Easton and on occasion at Shore Medical Center at Easton, speech-language pathologists can help adults with these and other communication problems. “Swallowing disorders, called dysphagia, are also treated by speech-language pathologists,” Hellman says. “Dysphagia is a common side effect of numerous diseases in adults. Treatment for swallowing disorders can transform a person’s quality of life and overall health.”



With speech and language disorders ranking among the most common disabilities in children, parents and caregivers are encouraged to learn the signs and seek an evaluation if they have concerns about their child’s ability to communicate.

Speech-language pathologists serving patients at Shore Medical Centers at Dorchester and Easton, Shore Rehab Centers at Cambridge and Easton, and The Requard Center for Acute Rehabilitation are (l. to r.) Anne Usiondek-Benjamin, Malinda Larrimore and Erin Scheele.

For young children, warning signs are: Does not babble (4–7 months); makes only a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (7–12 months); does not understand what others say (7-24 months); says only a few words (12–18 months); says p, b, m, h, and w incorrectly in words (1–2 years); words are not easily understood (18–24 months); does not put words together to make sentences (1.5–3 years); says k, g, f, t,
d, and n incorrectly in words and/or produces speech that is unclear even to familiar people (2–3 years); and repeats the first sounds of words, like “b-b-b-ball” for “ball” and/or stretches sounds out, like “fffffarm” for “farm” (any age).

For school-age children, warning signs are: trouble following directions; problems reading and writing; difficulty understanding what others say or being understood by others; and/or trouble talking about thoughts or feelings.

“Development of strong communication skills during childhood is extremely important,” says Hellman. “The common misconception that children ‘grow out’ of speech or language difficulties often delays treatment. Good communication skills are help with a child's behavior, learning, reading, social skills and friendships. The large majority of parents report significant improvement after treatment.”

Diane Lorsong provides speech-language therapy at Shore Rehab at Queenstown.

Speech-language therapy for children and adults is provided by UM Shore Regional Health’s Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services at Shore Medical Centers at Dorchester and Easton, Shore Rehab Centers at Cambridge, Easton and Queenstown, and The Requard Center for Acute Rehabilitation. To inquire about speech-language therapy for children or adults, contact Frank Rath, manager, Outpatient Services, 410-822-1000, ext. 7641.

Chester River Health Foundation to Honor Saunders at Golf Fundraiser


Twenty-five years ago, the Chester River Health Foundation’s first fundraising goal was to fund the construction of a $450,000 outpatient kidney dialysis facility on the hospital’s campus. Then newly-elected Foundation board member C. Daniel Saunders, Esq., said, “How about a golf tournament fundraiser?” The rest is history.

On May 31, 2019, the Foundation will host its 25th annual golf tournament at the Chester River Yacht & Country Club and will honor Saunders, co-founder of the event, He and his wife, Donna, have been top philanthropic supporters of the Chestertown hospital for years and have sponsored of this tournament’s $10,000 putting contest since its inception.

Sponsored for a second consecutive year by the Chester River Hospital Center Auxiliary, this year’s tournament will raise funds for a chemistry analyzer for the laboratory at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown.

Dan Saunders

“A chemistry analyzer is the backbone of all diagnostic laboratory work at the hospital,” said Sue Edson, Auxiliary president. “The machines run 24/7/365 and virtually every emergency patient, lab outpatients and all inpatients have tests run on this equipment. The new chemistry analyzer, which costs $200,000, offers enhanced technologies that enable the hospital to replace two of the existing machines with one that is state-of-the art.”

Noting the importance of purchasing the new equipment, the Auxiliary has made a significant donation – $30,000 – as the golf tournament sponsor.

Tee time for this rain or shine event is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. In tribute to Saunders, a fan of steel drum music, golfers and volunteers will be entertained by disc jockey Pres Jacobs, who will play island-style music during golfer check-in and the buffet lunch, which begins at 11:00 a.m.

Many events along the course, staffed by hospital employees and Auxiliary volunteers, will give golfers opportunities to win a host of donated prizes – including a trip to the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami, gift certificates and cash.

Registration and sponsorship information can be found on the Chester River Health Foundation’s website at: www.umcrhf.org/events or by phone at (410) 810-5661.

As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,500 employees, medical staff, board members, and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

New Initiative Offers Tips and Incentives for a Safe and Sober Prom


Community coalition partners with florists for student incentives and parent tips

The Adolescent Substance Abuse Coalition (ASAC) has provided parents and students with tips and tools for a safe and sober prom this year in Kent County.

Prom is set for May 18 at the Chester River Yacht and Country Club, with a new alcohol-free initiative from ASAC in place of the traditional post-prom party.

ASAC has mailed packets that include tips for keeping kids alcohol-free this prom, along with a contract that parents can sign with teenagers. The contract, from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, lists items for both a teenager and parent to agree upon, including teens staying sober and parents keeping an open mind. The contract not only helps establish basic ground rules and expectations, it also helps keep communication open about the risks of underage drinking.

The packets also include a $5 off coupon for one flower purchase, like a corsage or boutonniere, at three local florists: Inspired Designs and Bloomin’ Wild Florist in Chestertown, and Sara’s Garden in Rock Hall. The coupons include four tips for teens attending PROM:

  • Plan ahead. Tell your parents your plan.
  • Remember most kids don’t drink. Practice saying, ‘No Thanks.’
  • Open communication with your parents. Have a code word in case you need to call for a ride home.
  • Make Memories, look out for each other and have fun.

According to the latest youth survey, about 69 percent of Kent County high school students have had at least one drink. And, about 10 percent of our high schoolers have driven after drinking.

Parents are a powerful source of positive and reliable information. In fact, research has shown that kids who have conversations with their parents and learn about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50 percent less likely to use these substances than those who don’t have such

The longer children can delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop problems. Parents can make a difference – that’s why it is so important to help your child connect the dots and make smart decisions.

The coupons are supported by the Kent County Behavioral Health (KCBH) Prevention Office, through a grant from Maryland Department of Health and SAMHSA. The prevention office is part of ASAC, which is community partnership working to reduce alcohol, tobacco and other
drug use among our youth. Partners include KCBH; Kent County Public Schools; Kent County Sheriff’s Office; Kent County Parks and Recreation and others.

For more information on preventing the use of alcohol and other drugs, contact Annette Duckery, Alcohol and Other Drugs Prevention Coordinator for KCBH, at 410-778-7918. For more information on ASAC, contact Steven G. Atkinson, ASAC Chair at 410 708-3653.

The Kent County Behavioral Health Prevention Office helps community groups, agencies and individuals in providing programs and activities to prevent alcohol and other drug abuse, and to build a healthier community.

Huffner Honored by the Maryland Academy of Physician Assistants


William Huffner, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer, UM Shore Regional Health

William Huffner, MD, senior vice president, Medical Affairs and chief medical officer, recently received the Maryland Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA) highest honor, the MAPA Physician of the Year Award. MAPA represents the interests of all Maryland physician assistants in the state by supporting and offering continuing education, practice support, advocacy, scholarship and fellowship.

The award was presented during a luncheon at the Tidewater Inn on April 30, 2019 by Dr. Mary Jo Bondy, assistant dean, University of Maryland Graduate School and Dr. Cherilyn Hendrix, program director, Physician Assistant Program for the Anne Arundel Community College/University of Maryland-Baltimore Collaborative Program.

Dr. Huffner was selected in recognition of his leadership that led to the development, coordination and oversight of a clinical curriculum at Shore Regional Health for Anne Arundel Community College/University of Maryland (AACC/UMB) Physician Assistants students. In 2016, when most of the enrolled students had been displaced after the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Physician Assistant program lost its accreditation, Dr. Huffner identified Shore Regional Health physician partners across many medical specialties and disciplines to support the clinical rotations of 12 students over the past three years and continues to do so. For many of these students, receiving education and training in the Mid Shore region has resulted in employment offers with the Shore Regional Health network after their graduation.

To date, three PA graduates were recruited and are now working in local physician practices. At the award presentation, Dr. Bondy stated, “We are indebted to Dr. Huffner for his leadership and very grateful to the physician community for their collective efforts to educate the next generation of physician assistants.” Dr. Hendrix added, “We look forward to our continued collaboration with Shore Regional Health to meet the health care needs of the Mid Shore region.”

Local Leaders Join Chester River Health Foundation Board


Elizabeth (Barrie) Meima, chairperson of the Chester River Health Foundation, recently announced that two local community leaders have joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors: Kyle K. Kirby, Esq. of Rock Hall and Richard H. Lance, Ph.D., of Chestertown.

Kent County native Kyle Kirby graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management and is a Cum Laude graduate with a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law.  He practices with the MacLeod Law Group in Chestertown.

“I believe our hospital is a valuable part of our community and I am interested in getting more involved in service work within the community,” says Kirby. “My experience as an attorney will be beneficial to the Board in working toward the goals of the Foundation. I believe I also will also have the ability to connect with a younger generation of benefactors.”

Kyle K. Kirby, Esq. and Richard H. Lance, Ph.D.

Richard (Dick) Lance is a professor emeritus with Cornell University, College of Engineering, Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. He and his wife retired to Chestertown in 1998. He has continued to focus on teaching and has become closely associated with the Washington College Academy of Lifelong Learning.

“I joined the Foundation Board after just getting out of the hospital,” says Lance. “My treatment and care were very good, and made me want to support the Foundation’s goal of advancing quality health care in our community.”

Speaking on behalf of the Foundation Board, Meima stated: “We are pleased to welcome these two community leaders who bring unique talents and dedication to support our mission.”

As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,500 employees, medical staff, board members, and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

UM SRH Cancer Center to Host Women’s Only Event on April 29


The Cancer Center at University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is hosting a free event for women who are in treatment or recovery from treatment for cancer from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, April 29, at the Cancer Center, 509 Idlewild Ave., Easton.

According to organizer Patty Plaskon, oncology social worker at the Cancer Center, “For Women Only” is intended to offer support and information to women in the community who are living with cancer, in treatment for cancer or in recovery from treatment for cancer. “The event also will be a safe place for women in similar situations to draw support from one another and form meaningful connections that inspire hope through a difficult experience,” Plaskon says.

The For Women Only event will feature a Women’s Boutique to include bras, prosthetic bathing suits, summer and lounge wear, and more; presenters from “Feel More Like You,”Walgreen’s recently-launched cosmetic program for cancer patients; and information on cancer survivorship topics such as living with lymphedema, sexual health after cancer and local support groups.

Presenters include Elisa Lawson with The Women’s Boutique; Walgreens staff, including Mikayla Reynolds, a beauty consultant with the Walgreens Feel More Like You program; and UM SRH staff, including lymphedema specialist Jennifer Pierson, oncology nurse Chanelle Lake and Patty Plaskon.

The Walgreens Feel More Like You program is a first-of-its-kind pharmacy and beauty service that helps cancer patients manage the medical and physical changes associated with cancer treatment. Beauty consultants are specially trained to provide advice and support tailored toward a patient’s unique needs.Feel More Like You offers expert pharmacist advice, as well as on-demand beauty information and product tutorials to help patients adapt their beauty routines to navigate the visible changes resulting from cancer treatment.

For more information about the Cancer Center at UM Shore Regional Health’s April 29 event or to RSVP, please call 410-820-6800.

As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,500 employees, medical staff, board members, and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

Compass Regional Hospice Readies for May Patient Volunteer Training


Compass Regional Hospice will host a three-day patient care volunteer training May 7 to 9 at Compass Regional Hospice’s Grief Support Services wing of the Hospice Center in Centreville, 255 Comet Drive.

The training will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.and is a requirement to become a patient care volunteer with Compass Regional Hospice.

Completion of this training qualifies these volunteers to provide emotional support and practical assistance to hospice patients, families and caregivers in their homes, in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and in the residential hospice centers in Centreville and Chestertown.

Topics include an overview of hospice; the process of dying; spiritual care and its place in hospice care; the stages of grief; effective communications techniques; family dynamics; stress management; and self-care for caregivers.

Those who wish to provide direct patient care will be required to complete several additional hours with patients under the supervision of a Compass Regional Hospice clinical staff member. Volunteers who wish to be involved in providing grief support for hospice family members will work closely with staff from the Grief Support Services team. Grief support roles include bereavement volunteers, vigil volunteers, and grief support facilitators.

Eight volunteers recently completed patient care training in Caroline County this past fall. Those who are pictured include Virginia Martin, John Obrien, Nancy Kline, Joanna Zigrossi, Gilbrina Payne, Raymond Bennett and Jody Herb. Not pictured is Shelia Faulkner.

Robyn Affron, volunteer coordinator with Compass Regional Hospice, said being a patient care volunteer is similar to being a good neighbor,and volunteering is an opportunity to develop special relationships with patients, their families, and caregivers.

She said volunteering through Compass Regional Hospice is about providing companionship, and in many cases, volunteers are helping caregivers to have some respite or are visiting a patient who may not have many visitors and who might like some company— whether that is taking a walk, listening to music or reading a book together.

Compass Regional Hospice has myriad ways with which anyone who is interested may volunteer, including administrative assistance; greeting at hospice center locations in Queen Anne’s and Kent counties; assisting with events and outreach; being educational ambassadors for Compass Regional Hospice; and assisting with staffing needs at Estate Treasures, an upscale resale shop in Chester that is run entirely by volunteers.

Compass Regional Hospice relies on more than 300 volunteers of all ages to support its mission of “Care on your terms.” Whatever your motivation to volunteer, there is a place for you at Compass Regional Hospice.

For more information about becoming a volunteer for Compass Regional Hospice, contact Affron at 443-262-4112 or raffron@compassregionalhospice.org, or visit www.compassregionalhospice.org/volunteers to download the patient care volunteer training registration form.

Compass Regional Hospice – Care on your terms

Compass Regional Hospice is a fully licensed, independent, community-based nonprofit organization certified by Medicare and the state of Maryland and accredited by the Joint Commission. Since 1985, Compass Regional Hospice has been dedicated to supporting people of all ages through the challenge of living with a serious illness and learning to live following the death of a loved one. Today, the organization is a regional provider of hospice care, palliative care, and grief support in Queen Anne’s, Kent and Caroline counties. “Care on your terms” is the promise that guides staff and volunteers as they care for patients in private residences, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and the residential hospice centers in Centreville and Chestertown. Grief support services are offered to children, adults, and families of patients who died under hospice care, as well as members of the community who are grieving the loss of a loved one. For more information about Compass Regional Hospice, visit compassregionalhospice.org.

Run for the Roses Event to Benefit Talisman Therapeutic Riding


Although the race is 600 miles away, May 4th 200 guests will gather at to the picturesque Talisman Therapeutic Farm in Grasonville, Maryland to watch the Kentucky Derby. It is Talisman’s 8th annual celebration of the famous horse race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. All proceeds from the event will go to the Talisman Therapeutic Riding program to benefit children and adults with special needs and veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Our 8th annual Derby party will provide a much needed infusion of funds for our program,” said Anne Joyner, Executive Director of the program, “We provide over 3000 therapeutic riding lessons a year and most of our riders are on scholarships.”

Event festivities include bourbon tasting, mint juleps, a Southern style buffet dinner, rider demonstrations and, of course, a hat contest. Local restaurateur El Jeffe will treat guests to margaritas in a one day-early celebration of Cinqo De Mayo Guests will view the 145th Run for the Roses on big screen tv’s. Post time for the most exciting 2 minutes in sports is 6:50 pm. The evening also includes silent and live auctions.

“Derby Live! is Talisman’s signature event. We expect to sell out again this year,” according to Board Chair Mary Sjoquist. She encouraged those interested to purchase tickets as soon as possible.

Tickets are $100 per person and may be purchased online at whatsuptix.com or by calling 443-239-9400. Space is limited to 200 guests.

Maryland will Make Smoking and Vaping Age 21


What do cigarettes, Juul pods, rolling papers and nicotine-free vape juice all have in common? Starting Oct. 1 they will all be considered “tobacco products” in Maryland, and you will have to be at least 21 to buy them.

House bill 1169 and its corresponding Senate bill 895 will raise the smoking age in Maryland to 21 as well as reclassify all vape products and accessories as tobacco products regardless of their nicotine concentration.

Vendors will still be able to sell tobacco products to active duty service members who are at least 18 with military IDs.

Vapes have become a serious issue in schools, where their popularity has shot up in recent years. Usage of vapes by high school students nearly doubled last year, increasing from 11 percent in 2017 to almost 21 percent in 2018, according to the United States Surgeon General.

While vapes are popular among adults trying to quit smoking, they still present the risk of nicotine addiction. Though studies of their long-term effects are lacking, vapes have been deemed dangerous for children by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Photo by Charlie Youngmann / Capital News Service

Under this bill, selling tobacco products without a license could result in fines up to $1,000 and/or 30 days imprisonment. Licensed retailers who sell to people younger than 21 could face a $300 fine for their first offense, $1,000 for the second offense within two years of the first and $3,000 for a third offense within two years of the second.

Devin Farmer is a store supervisor at VAPE180 in Annapolis, Maryland. Farmer said he can understand why lawmakers would want to regulate the growing industry with teen vaping on the rise.

Though plenty of people between 18 and 21 frequent Farmer’s store, he said they have enough regulars over the age of 21 that the store should stay in business.

“While (this legislation) will cut back on us a little bit, it shouldn’t do too much damage to our actual business,” Farmer said.

The bill also authorizes the Maryland Department of Health to use people younger than 21 to conduct unannounced inspections of tobacco product retailers. Farmer said he’s experienced similar sting operations working at gas stations, but never at his vape shop.

Farmer said this practice could potentially work, “Maybe kind of as a scare tactic, maybe a once here and there kind of thing. I wouldn’t make it a normal, everyday kind of occurrence,” he said.

VAPE180 supervisor Devin Farmer. Photo by Charlie Youngmann / Capital News Service.

Annapolis resident and former vape store worker Ben Sloskey said he thinks this bill would not only be detrimental to the vapor industry, but also relatively ineffective at preventing teen vaping.

When he worked as a vape retailer, Sloskey said, most of his customers were primarily 18-22 and new to nicotine, or former smokers well into their 30’s. Recalling how easy it was for him to find cigarettes as a teenager, Sloskey said high school students will either go out-of-state or simply pay adults to purchase vape products for them.

In 11 other states including Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia, the age to purchase tobacco has been raised to 21, according to tobaccofreekids.org. Delaware and Pennsylvania are among other states considering this change.

“How does the 18-year-old senior get alcohol for his party? He talks to a family relative or he talks to his friend,” Sloskey said. “There are people in high school who have an older group of friends because of something that they do in their free time,” he said.

Because this bill would also restrict people younger than 21 from entering a vape shop, Sloskey said younger children may begin to purchase fake IDs, not to get into bars, but to smoke and vape, he said.

Britani Ngo just turned 20 and has been vaping for about two years since she made the switch from cigarettes. As the store supervisor of VAPE180’s Linthicum, Maryland, branch, Ngo said she’s concerned about what this bill may do to her ability to work.

“Hopefully I can stay, but if it comes down to it, I don’t have much of a choice other than to really leave,” Ngo said. “Honestly, I’m just really scared. I hope for the best, I really hope I don’t have to lose my job because this job means everything to me,” she said.

Ngo said she also doubts that this bill will prevent people who are not yet 21 from getting access to vape products.

“People are underestimating just how easy it is to kinda get your hands on things nowadays. To be realistic, if there’s a will there’s a way,” Ngo said.

Ngo and Sloskey both stressed that vaping is often overlooked as a hobby and lifestyle. Sloskey noted the effort vape enthusiasts put into selecting and building their vapes to produce different results while Ngo explained that her store acts as more of a lounge than a place of intoxication.

“Wanting to be able to help people and then having somebody say I can’t help people under a certain age, that’s just kind of a blow in the chest to me,” Ngo said. “I do know a lot of people underage that smoke and eventually it’s just going to get worse and worse,” she said.

Julia Cen Chen-Sankey is a postdoctoral fellow with the National Institutes of Health. While researching her doctoral dissertation at the University of Maryland, Chen-Sankey said that she found sweet vape flavors can act as a gateway into other tobacco products for young users.

High school students make up the largest group of vape users in the United States, with sweet flavors like fruits and desserts being the most popular with young users, Chen-Sankey explained.

While this bill will likely reduce the number of vaping high school students, Chen-Sankey said, restrictions on sweet flavors and marketing could further aid in preventing underage usage.

Chen-Sankey explained that even in products labeled nicotine-free, some traces of the chemical may still be present, or the packaging could be mislabeled. She said that the broad tobacco product classifications put in place by this bill would ensure that consumers are aware of the health risks of vaping, regardless of what they are purchasing.

A pair of failed bills this session—House bill 1185 and Senate bill 708—would have restricted vape packaging to exclude cartoons, teen mascots and other imagery deemed appealing to children.

“I’d like to see (the vapor industry) keep growing as it has. There’s honestly not a place in Maryland you can go without seeing a vape shop nowadays. They’re everywhere,” Farmer said.

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