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Since May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, it seems only fitting to speak with Megan Childress, a Speech Language Pathologist  at Katzman Family Center for Living

By way of background, Megan, who is originally from Lexington, Kentucky, comes from a close-knit family, Megan has identical triplet brothers, who are four years younger. It was a busy household indeed! Currently, Megan’s parents and two brothers still reside on Lexington; one brother lives in New York and Megan lives in South Boston. Megan attended the University of Kentucky for both undergrad and graduate school.

Take a look at our conversation with Megan about what her career means to her and her role at KCL.

Q. Why did you decide to be Speech-Language Pathologist?

A. I wanted to be in a profession that helps people. At first, I had no idea what speech therapists did, but after shadowing one, I knew immediately that this was the field for me.

Q. Why did you decide to join Chelsea Jewish Lifecare?

A.  I wanted to go somewhere different for my last clinical rotation and I picked the Boston area because I had cousins living here at the time. I ended up doing my clinical rotation at the Leonard Florence Center for Living. I loved it! 

After I graduated from college, I moved back to Boston. Fortunately, I kept in touch with the  staff at LFCL by doing per-diem work. My next two years were spent at Easter Seals, working with children in the school system. Atter that, I realized that I wanted to work with the adult population again. In August of 2019, I started fulltime work at the Katzman Center. It felt like I had come home. 

Q. What is your favorite thing about working at KCL?

A. I really like the Green House model. It’s very special that our residents are able to smell coffee brewing or dinner cooking while they are relaxing in the living room. It’s such a contrast to a traditional nursing home. I also love the fact that there is always music playing in the dining room or in the hallways. Scents and music can connect us to events, feelings and memories of people and places. This can help the long-term residents feel happier and improve their mood.

Q. What is the most rewarding aspect about working as a Speech-Language Pathologist? 

A. Actions like swallowing and being able to communicate with others are things that most of us take for granted. It is very rewarding to help someone who has lost their ability communicate the way they once did find a new way to communicate. Or to help someone safely continue to enjoy the foods and beverages they love.

Q.  What differentiates KCL from other skilled nursing facilities?

A. This past year has been tremendously trialing on residents, families, and all staff. Recently I noticed a resident had changed floors. When I went to visit him in his new room, I put Jazz music on his television because I know how much he enjoys it. When I came back the next day, I assumed I would need to put the music back on his television since different staff members would be working and they might not know this about him. But when I arrived, I saw that the music had already been put on for him. The same thing happened the next day and so on. Those who know him understand just how important this is to him, even though he might not always remember to ask for it. 

These little things make a huge difference, especially during a time when people are more isolated than ever. The staff, nurses and therapists here have done a tremendous job remembering and implementing individual preferences for the residents.

Q. Your job sounds very demanding. How do you relax?

A. I love to be in the kitchen! I like trying different recipes when cooking and baking. It’s very therapeutic for me. And I really love taking my dog to the beach or spending time with her outside.

Q. What do you want people to know about Better Hearing and Speech Month?

A. Many people think hearing loss is just a harmless annoyance, but it is so much more than that. If you have a hearing loss, you might have a higher risk of developing certain health conditions, especially if the hearing loss go untreated. These health conditions include social isolation, depression, anxiety, falls and other injuries, cognitive decline and dementia. Identifying hearing loss a as soon as possible is so important. Today there are many effective treatment options available. Diagnosing the problem is the first step.