JUNE 18, 2008

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McAlester Scottish Rite, NSU dedicate speech language clinic

Group of NSU-Scottish Rite officials at dedication.
The McAlester Scottish Rite has partnered with the NSU College of Science and Health Professions Speech Language Pathology Program to offer the outreach clinic to children with speech, language and reading development delays from age 18 through 11 years.

Providing essential services to children in need and educational opportunities for students were the crucial points behind the opening of the McAlester Rite Care Outreach Program Clinic at Northeastern State University, Muskogee. A special ceremony was held Tuesday, April 29 to officially dedicate the facility, located in the Administration Building on the Muskogee campus.

“This is a dream come true for us,” said Dr. Bob Bartheld, president of the McAlester Scottish Rite Charitable and Educational Foundation. “We hope this is the first of several outreach clinics throughout the state.”

The McAlester Scottish Rite partnered with the NSU College of Science and Health Professions Speech Language Pathology Program to offer the outreach clinic to children with speech, language and reading development delays from age 18 through 11 years.

“What started out as a need to hire an employee at the McAlester Rite Care Clinic through an innovative scholarship program has blossomed into a great relationship between NSU and the McAlester Scottish Rite to provide these crucial services to children in the Muskogee area,” said John Gyllin, director of Development.

The clinic, which is open one day per week while classes are in session, provides free services to children in the Muskogee area by graduate students in the NSU Speech Language Pathology Program under the supervision of a licensed speech language pathologist.

“Without the generous support of the McAlester Scottish Rite, this project would not have been possible,” said Dr. Karen Patterson, professor and program chair of Speech Language Pathology. “The university provides the space and personnel for the clinic, with the McAlester Scottish Rite provides the financial support to operate the facility. The children receive services free of charge and out students get practical real world experience working here.”

Nine children are currently enrolled in the program offered through the clinic. Patterson said that the clinic has the total capacity to work with 16 children, with local school districts sending patient referrals.

“Our program at Northeastern will serve as a model for other schools across the state interested in providing similar services to children,” said Dr. Dalton Bigbee, vice president for Academic Affairs. “We’re serving the people of Oklahoma with new and innovative programs, and this partnership will really lay the groundwork for future endeavors in this area.”

With a shortfall in the number of people entering the speech language pathology profession nationwide, the expansion of this program at Northeastern provides students with professional experience necessary once they enter the working world.
“Our accrediting body, the American Speech/Language/Hearing Association, has called the shortfall a near disaster in terms of the number of students being turned away from programs right now,” said Dr. Ronald Schaefer, professor of Speech Language Pathology. “Increasing the scholarships that are available and the practicum experiences available for our students, like the partnership with the McAlester Scottish Rite, are ways we can combat this growing problem.”

The Scottish Rite is the leading private benefactor for childhood language disorders in the United States. Communication disorders are the most common problem for children, affecting more than all other disorders combined.

Oklahoma’s premier regional University, Northeastern State University operates three campuses and offers nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and Oklahoma’s only doctoral program in optometry. For more information on Northeastern visit the University web site at www.nsuok.edu.