Stony Brook Southampton adds unique speech therapy program to Suffolk County


Southampton’s Stony Brook University celebrated the expansion of its speech therapy program facilities with a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday. The program – introduced in 2020 and the first of its kind in Suffolk County – is designed to meet the growing demand for professionals in the field.

Speech-language pathologists treat people of all ages, “assessing and treating speech, language and cognition disorders. [and] swallowing disorders, ”said Dr. Renee Fabus, founder and chair of the program. They may work in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation centers, public and private schools, and university clinics, among others.

“There is a shortage of speech-language pathologists,” said Dr. Fabus, noting that the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field will experience employment growth of 21% through 2024.

She said graduates of the program would help meet the need for bilingual providers to serve a growing Spanish-speaking population on Long Island. Data from the 2020 census indicated that 6.4% of households in Southold speak Spanish at home. That number rises to 12.5% ​​in Riverhead. Census data also shows that 22.8% of households in Suffolk County speak a language other than English.

More speech-language pathologists are also needed to meet the demands of an aging population. According to census data, 23.6% of the residents of Riverhead Town are 65 years of age and over. This number rises to 31.9% in Southold Town.

“A large portion of the geriatric population may have difficulty communicating after stroke, neuromuscular disease such as ALS, Parkinson’s disease, or they may have difficulty or deficits in swallowing as these neuromuscular diseases develop. are progressing, ”said Dr. Fabus. She noted that the students in the program work “as a team and [work] together in a collaborative practice to optimize patient health care and increase person-centered care.

The new facilities at Stony Brook University in Southampton include classrooms, a control room, simulation training and video conferencing capabilities. The two-year program encompasses speaking, fluency, receptive and expressive language skills, cognition, development, and reading and writing at all ages.

The department will graduate from its inaugural class in May 2022.

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