Speech-Language Pathologist Can Help Patients Regain Health and Quality of Life

Cognition and Swallowing Among the Common Challenges Persisting for Many Americans After COVID-19

With an estimated 10 to 30% of COVID-19 survivors experiencing “long-haul” symptoms including brain fog and swallowing difficulties, Chelan speech-language pathologist Emily Leavens is encouraging the public to seek care from qualified experts who can help them regain their functioning and quality of life. Leavens is sharing this message in recognition of May being national Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM).

“The pandemic has posed so many challenges to us all as a society, but one of the persisting and most vexing ones right now is the daunting set of difficulties many people are having for months after contracting COVID-19,” said Leavens. “From brain fog, to difficulty eating and drinking, to speech and language problems, these can affect return to work, the ability to take care of one’s family, and overall recovery. Many people don’t know about the services of speech-language pathologists—professionals trained in these areas who can make a huge difference for these people. This is an important time for us to spread the word: Help is available.”

How They Help

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can help people with, or recovering from, COVID-19 who are having short- and longer-term difficulties in the following areas:

  • Cognition

Many COVID-19 “long-haulers” are reporting persistent brain fog as a debilitating symptom after their bout with the virus. This can prevent a return to work and impact their ability to tend to family responsibilities. SLPs can work with individuals to improve their memory, attention, organization and planning, problem solving, learning, and social communication—such as re-learning conversational rules or understanding the intent behind a message or behind nonverbal cues. The focus is on the person’s specific challenges as well as regaining the skills that are most important to their daily life and priorities.

  • Swallowing

People diagnosed with COVID-19 may experience swallowing problems that can put them at risk for choking or aspirating, which is when food goes into the lungs instead of the stomach. This may be the result of time spent on a ventilator, or it may be another side effect of the virus. SLPs use different types of tests to determine what happens when a person swallows and how the related muscles are working—helping a patient’s medical team, including the SLP, decide on the best course of action with the patient and their family. SLPs may recommend modified textures of food and drink for patients; therapy exercises to strengthen the tongue, lips, and muscles in the mouth and throat; and strategies to make eating and drinking safer, such as modifying the pace of chewing/eating, size of food, and more.

  • Communication

People diagnosed with COVID-19 are also experiencing speech and language difficulties. Some, such as those who spent a significant amount of time on a ventilator or experienced low oxygen to the brain, may have muscle weakness or reduced coordination in the muscles of the face, lips, tongue, and throat—making it difficult to talk. Others, particularly those who experienced a COVID-related stroke, may experience a language disorder called aphasia—which makes it hard for someone to understand, speak, read, or write. SLPs work with patients through targeted therapy to improve their communication and understanding.

People who have severe speech and/or language difficulties may need to find other ways to answer questions or tell people what they want, such as through gesturing with their hands, pointing to letters or pictures on a paper or board, or using a computer. These are all forms of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). SLPs help find the appropriate AAC method to meet an individual’s needs.

Where to Find Care

SLPs work in settings that include hospitals, long- and short-term care facilities, private practices, and patients’ homes. Many SLPs are also providing their services via telehealth at this time. If you or a loved one are experiencing communication challenges, Leavens recommends letting your doctor know.

For more information, Chelan/Manson residents can contact Lake Chelan Health Rehabilitation at 509-682-8523; https://lakechelanhealth.org/speech-therapy-copy/ or visit www.asha.org/public.



Lake Chelan Health Replacement Hospital Groundbreaking Ceremony

Lake Chelan Health will celebrate breaking ground for the replacement hospital April 23rd at 1:30pm at our new hospital site 110 S. Apple Blossom Drive, Chelan.  The community is invited and encouraged to join us for this tremendous celebration of moving health care forward in the Lake Chelan Valley.


Chelan, WA, April 7, 2021– Lake Chelan Health Board of Commissioners appointed Jeremy Jaech to fill the vacant seat of Commissioner #5 at a Special Meeting of the Board held on April 5, 2020.

Jaech is a resident of Manson, WA and has relevant experience serving on the University of Washington Board of Regents, including serving as Chair of the regent’s advisory board on UW Medicine. Jaech focused his efforts on improving the governance of UW Medicine. “Healthcare is clearly an important issue to me and now the Chelan hospital and associated activities in the health district are of even greater interest,” said Jeremy. He will serve as Commissioner for the remainder of 2021.

The position for Commissioner #5 will be up during filing week in May for a 2-year unexpired term. Positions #2 and #3 are also up during filing week this May for the November 2021 ballot.

Founded in 1948, Lake Chelan Health hospital is a DNV accredited Critical Access Hospital with supporting Express Care and Specialty Care clinics in Chelan, Washington. The health system provides a 24-hour emergency room, surgical center, inpatient, labor and delivery services, as well as physical, speech and occupational rehabilitative therapy.


Chelan, WA, March 5, 2021– Lake Chelan Health Commissioner Phyllis Gleasman has resigned from her position.  The Commissioners and Lake Chelan Health are deeply appreciative of her years of service, dedication, and leadership.   Phyllis was a tireless champion for the replacement hospital.

Lake Chelan Health Board of Commissioners are accepting letters of interest from candidates who would like to fill the board seat vacated by Phyllis Gleasman.

Chelan County Public Hospital District No. 2 Board of Commissioners directly oversee hospital policy and governance and will appoint the new commissioner to fulfill the remaining 2021 term. The appointed member will serve until the next election.

Letters of interest should include candidate’s credentials and experience, as well as reasons why they want to serve as a Lake Chelan Health board member.

The Board of Commissioners are looking for an individual who is dedicated to moving healthcare forward in the Lake Chelan Valley and has displayed a commitment to advancing medical services offered by Lake Chelan Health.  Candidates must also have time to study, attend meetings, and serve as an advocate for projects supporting Lake Chelan Health.

Candidates must submit letters to Kylie, at PO Box 908, Chelan, WA 98816 or fax to 509-682-2452.   Letters of Interest will be accepted until position is filled. A job description is available upon request.

Founded in 1948, Lake Chelan Health hospital is a fully-accredited 25-bed Critical Access Hospital with supporting Express Care and Specialty Care clinics in Chelan, Washington.  The health system provides a 24-hour emergency room, surgical center, and inpatient services, as well as physical, speech and occupational rehabilitative therapy.


Chelan, WA, February 2, 2020 – Lake Chelan Health announces the successful completion of its new accreditation from DNV GL.

To receive accreditation an organization must demonstrate that it meets or exceeds patient safety standards set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). As a world-leading certification body with objectives to safeguard life, property, and the environment, DNV GL is committed to supporting healthcare organizations improve patient safety.

DNV’s accreditation program, called NIAHO (National Integrated Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) uses the highest level of Quality Management Systems to conduct annual hospital surveys – instead of every 3 to 5 years – and encourages hospitals to openly share information across departments to continually improve clinical workflows and safety protocols.

“DNV accreditation is a significant achievement for Lake Chelan Health,” says CEO George Rohrich. “The strong work of the entire team made this possible. Congratulations, Lake Chelan Health!”

Lake Chelan Health joins more than 600 hospitals nationwide including 33 in Washington State to receive DNV accreditation. For more information about DNV GL hospital accreditation visit www.dnvglcert.com/healthcare.

Lake Chelan Health Resumes Patient Admissions, Services

Lake Chelan Health is cleared to admit patients to the hospital and resume all services. Patients that had previously tested positive for COVID-19 are no longer infectious and off isolation precautions. In mid-January, five patients began showing initial symptoms of the virus and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. The Chelan Douglas Health District (CDHD) has been providing guidance to the Lake Chelan Health staff and reviewed all safety precautions.

The first recommendations by the CDHD included placing the hospital on diversion to not admit any new patients and suspend physical, occupational, and speech therapy services. Lake Chelan Health CNO, Jaime Minnock, worked with CDHD in leading the investigation into how the virus entered the facility and reached patients. Emphasis was immediately placed on testing of all staff working directly with patients for the prior 14 days. 98 employees were tested within hours and all initial tests came back negative for COVID-19. Follow up testing was conducted which also resulted in no positive tests.

The Lake Chelan Health team has practiced every safety precaution for months to prevent the spread of the virus, and we are extremely proud of the team for their diligence in stopping what could have been a disastrous outbreak.

CDHD reviewed our investigation concerning how the virus was potentially introduced and transmitted. The health district commended our staff on the established safety precautions and were comfortable with the mitigation strategies. Lake Chelan Health has updated its visitor policy to no visitors or extra guests accompanying patients to appointments, except for end-of-life care, pediatrics, and allowing one support person or partner for obstetrical ultrasounds and delivery.

We appreciate the guidance and support received from the CDHD in safely working through this COVID-19 outbreak.

Lake Chelan Health Resuming Therapy Services

Lake Chelan Health Resuming Therapy Services

Lake Chelan Health is continuing visitor restrictions and is not admitting new patients to the hospital after five inpatients tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Therapy services, which include physical, speech and occupational therapy have resumed with guidance from the Chelan Douglas Health District (CDHD). All other services remain open and available.

All positive patients remain in isolation and separate from non-infected patients. In collaboration with the CDHD, 98 staff were first tested for COVID-19 on Friday January 15, 2021 and results were negative.

We will continue to follow the necessary safety precautions to protect our patients, staff, and community.

Lake Chelan Health Restricting Non-Emergent Services

Lake Chelan Health Restricting Non-Emergent Services
After Five Patients Test Positive for COVID-19

Lake Chelan Health is currently not accepting visitors or admitting new patients to the hospital due to five inpatients testing positive for COVID-19.  We have temporarily suspended rehab services, which include physical, speech and occupational therapy until further notice. The Emergency Department will remain open but will be limited to only the patient seeking emergency services and possible support person.  All other services remain open and available.

All positive patients have been placed on isolation and have been separated from non-infected patients.  With guidance from the health district, staff that have been in contact with the patients will be tested.

As can be expected in a pandemic, we have been preparing for situations like this and we have responded with the necessary safety precautions to protect our patients, staff, and community.

Lake Chelan Health will continue to work closely with Public Health as we learn more.

Lake Chelan Health Administers First Round of COVID-19 Vaccine

Lake Chelan Health received its first shipment of 500 Moderna COVID-19 doses to be administered in Phase 1a of the distribution plan. Phase 1a includes healthcare workers, EMS and first responders.  During the first few days, the Lake Chelan Hospital Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team administered 40 COVID-19 vaccinations.

As of December 29, more than 100 vaccinations have been given to Lake Chelan Health staff and some providers from Columbia Valley Community Health.  The vaccine distribution plan will continue to roll out in phases as per federal, state and government requirements.  All those who are vaccinated will need the second part of the vaccine within 28 days from when the first dose was given.

Lake Chelan Health will continue to monitor, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Public Health, the ongoing phases of the vaccine distribution plan and communicate those details to the community. Please visit the COVID-19 page on our website, or follow our Facebook page, for ongoing updates.


Critical Access Hospital Succeeds Using Telehealth for COVID-19 and Beyond

Critical Access Hospital Succeeds Using Telehealth for COVID-19 and Beyond

Predictive telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic identifies high-risk patients and improves patient care

Chelan, WA and Seattle WA – October 14, 2020:  Lake Chelan Health and Wanda Health announce the release of a new Case Study demonstrating that the proactive use of predictive telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic improved care and strengthened the connection between the hospital and patients. The results of the program also show that the use of predictive telehealth helps expand care for patients that live in rural locations or cannot complete regular visits to the hospital or clinic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic intensified, the leadership at Lake Chelan Health, a Washington State Critical Access Hospital, realized a new approach was required to deliver optimal care to their patients. Part of their decision to use the Wanda Telehealth solution was the requirements to provide specialized care to high-risk patients. The program, led by the Lake Chelan Health Community Paramedicine team, adopted the COVID-19 Telehealth Screening and Care Management programs from Wanda Health to help them provide patients and quarantined individuals with automated symptom screening and remote care management. 471 patients were enrolled in the program and provided automated COVID-19 screenings over a 6- day period. Key findings from the program include:

  • A strengthening of the patient-care team relationship
  • Successful identification of “at-risk” patients in need of supplemental disease-specific care management
  • Strengthening the commitment of Lake Chelan Health to their patient base
  • Improved team productivity
  • Sustained high level of patient satisfaction

“The Wanda Telehealth programs have helped us provide more responsive and targeted care for our patients, helping to reduce the strain and financial burden on the entire hospital system,” said Ray Eickmeyer, EMS Director at Lake Chelan Health. “The good news is we only saw about 10% of the population in the program that showed COVID-19 symptoms. We also identified a large population that really need ongoing support for chronic conditions and other ailments. Lake Chelan Health has launched a dozen new telehealth disease management programs to care for these high-risk patients. We will continue expanding these care programs as part of our commitment to improving the health of the community.”

Key metrics from the program include:

  • 10% of patients were COVID-19 symptomatic
  • 99% patient satisfaction
  • 13% of patients were found to have conditions that require ongoing interventions
  • 3,656 COVID-19 screenings completed
  • 236% increase in patients request for help with their care
  • 14% in care team productivity

“The team at Lake Chelan Health are incredible in their ability to care for patients with hard to manage chronic, mental, and behavioral conditions made even more difficult due to the rural locations in which many of them live,” stated Bill Bassett, President of Wanda Health. “Based on the results from the COVID-19 program, they are now expanding their ability to provide preventative, targeted care for patients with an expanded set of care needs keeping them happier, safer and healthier at home. The success of the Lake Chelan Health program is a model to be followed by other Critical Care Access hospitals and programs that provide care to patients in rural and hard to reach communities.”

The program data showed there were improvements in workflow efficiencies that accelerated COVID-19 identification for the care team.  During the first thirty days, the average daily volume of patients that were enrolled and sent the COVID-19 Screenings increased 14% from 57 to 65 per day.

The results also reflect that the ease of use of the telehealth platform enhanced care team and patient interactions. Patients actively seeking out assistance from their care team rose 236% during the first 30 days from 5.7 requests a day to 19.2 requests a day. These patient requests included needing information about COVID-19 symptoms, medication assistance, and getting health coaching regard existing conditions.

Other important findings can be read in the case study available at www.wandahealth.com

About Lake Chelan Health (www.lakechelanhealth.com)

Lake Chelan Health is Critical Access Hospital with supporting clinics in Chelan, Washington.  Lake Chelan Health is equipped with a 24-hour emergency room, surgical center, and inpatient services, specialty care clinic and a family medicine care clinic. Lake Chelan Health is a vital component in the health care network that extends throughout the state and beyond. The family physicians, surgeons and care team regularly partner with larger facilities to ensure a full range of quality medical services to the Lake Chelan Valley.

About Wanda Health. (www.wandahealth.com)

Wanda Health is putting the power of artificial intelligence into the hands of physicians, nurses, and patients to drive better care, increase satisfaction, and improve the bottom line. Our leading telehealth platform combines predictive analytics, advanced behavioral sciences, patient engagement and multimodal telehealth into a clinical decision support and care management platform that reduces adverse events and improves adherence. Our customers are experiencing reductions in unplanned rehospitalizations and emergency department visits, increased patient adherence, added revenue and reduced costs of operations.

For more information, additional images or interview opportunities contact:

Wanda Health
Bill Bassett, President
(206) 472-5584

Lake Chelan Health
Agustin Benegas
Communications & Outreach Manager
Office:  509.682.8525