Monday, May 22, 2006

May Meeting is a Success!

On Monday, May 22, NSSLHA held its last meeting for the quarter/school year. Congratulations to those who are graduating! We wish you the best in your endeavors!

For the last meeting of the quarter, NSSLHA invited Ms. Melea Balwan from Casa Colina in Pomona, to present her experiences about working in an acute rehabilitation center.

Ms. Balwan has been an SLP in the medical setting for approximately five years now. Upon graduation, she began working at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey. Last year, she began working at Casa Colina. Casa Colina is well known for its continuum of care, from hospital care to outpatient services to residential programs.

Casa Colina’s inpatient services (hospital) include acute rehabilitation, ventilator weaning, and a senior evaluation program. Ms. Balwan works in acute rehabilitation, where “everyday is different and every patient is different; every time you see a patient it’s a different experience. It makes it exciting, challenging and tough.”

In Casa Colina’s acute rehabilitation hospital, patients come from a variety of injuries, but all are “medically stable.” Because of the setting, the length of stay depends on the diagnosis upon admittance and severity level of the injury. Most patients stay between two and four weeks. Unfortunately, the short stay causes quite a challenge for the teams.

A typical day for SLPs consists of seeing 6 to 7 patients in a very diverse setting. Depending on the patient, SLPs will see patients either individually or in a group setting. SLPs work with patients who have suffered from a wide array of deficits: cognition, speech, language, dysphagia, trachea decanulation, spinal cord injury, ventilator weaning, voice, etc. Because of the variety of patients, SLPs collaborate with teams of professionals on a daily basis. The teams typically consist of medical doctors, occupational therapists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, nurses, and other specialized clinicians. Although Casa Colina’s inpatient rehabilitation hospital consists of 68 beds, the SLPs are not on all of the cases. SLPs provide services as needed; typically, they carry approximately 75% of the cases. Currently, Casa Colina employs 4 inpatient and 3 outpatient SLPs.

At Casa Colina, dysphagia is a condition that the clinicians place extreme importance on. Each new patient receives a dysphagia evaluation, whether it is a doctor’s order or not. In addition, much treatment centers on dysphagia. For example, there is a daily treatment session at lunch time for patients with a certain severity level of dysphagia (e.g., thin liquid diet). Because most patients have concomitant disorders, one of the challenges for an SLP is deciding how to spend the one hour of treatment. Treatment goals closely relate to the priorities and goals of others involved such as the family, occupational therapist, and physical therapist.

Ms. Balwan concluded that the medical setting is extremely lacking SLPs. If interested in working in a medical setting, Ms. Balwan recommends observing and finding information on cognition and other neuro-trauma topics that are not typically covered in a course

For more information or questions, please contact Ms. Melea Balwan at

Pizza & Presentation

As we wrap up the Spring quarter, we invite you to join us on tonight, Monday, May 22, 2006 from 6:15 - 7:00 P.M. for the last meeting of the quarter! We have invited a very special guest from Casa Colina, Ms. Melea Balwan. Casa Colina is well recognized as a hospital, outpatient center, transitional living center, and children's service center. Ms. Balwan will share her personal experience and insight on the acute rehabilitation center.

From Casa Colina's website:

"Inpatient services are provided in a new state-of-the-art hospital for a wide range of medical conditions that include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, stroke, orthopedic conditions, respiratory disorders, multiple trauma, neurological diseases, wounds and burns."

We are quite honored to have Ms. Balwan. We hope you will join us tonight in KH B-111 from 6:15 - 7 P.M. to hear this special presentation .... and have the dinner of champions -- PIZZA!

See you there!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Big Sunday ' this Sunday, May 7!


On May 7, 2006 up to 25,000 volunteers (!) of all ages will join Mayor Villaraigosa and volunteer at more than 200 different non-profit sites. It’s all part of BIG SUNDAY ’06, L.A.’s Annual Day of Service.

BIG SUNDAY volunteers come from neighborhoods all over Los Angeles – and volunteer in neighborhoods all over Los Angeles. There are volunteer opportunities for every passion, every talent, and every age. Projects are scheduled throughout the day to work with any schedule. Projects can last anywhere from one hour to all day.

Everything about BIG SUNDAY is completely non-denominational, non-political and free. All anyone is asked for is their time and their talent. The day is totally underwritten by private, corporate, and foundation grants and donations.

BIG SUNDAY projects are designed to be completed in one day; however, for many, BIG SUNDAY is just the beginning of an involvement that continues throughout the year.

BIG SUNDAY is not just a community service day. It is a community building day, too. You see, the idea behind BIG SUNDAY is that no matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter what you do, everyone has some way they can help someone else.


BIG SUNDAY started in 1999 as Temple Israel of Hollywood’s Mitzvah Day. By last year, BIG SUNDAY had evolved into an annual, city-wide volunteer day involving more than 8000 volunteers from more than 100 different synagogues, churches, schools, offices and clubs at nearly 150 different non-profits!

At the same time, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has – first as city councilman, then as mayor – sponsored nearly one dozen very successful and popular local community days of service. Last fall, at his first Citywide Day of Service, more than 7500 volunteers worked together to do dozens of projects at six public high schools across Los Angeles!

Now, it is with enormous anticipation and excitement that Mayor Villaraigosa’s office and Big Sunday have joined forces for BIG SUNDAY ’06, L.A.’s Annual Day of Service. Our goal is to become the largest citywide volunteer day in America, not in response to a man-made or natural disaster, but simply because that is the kind of people we are, and this is kind of city we live in.

Please join us. After all, whoever you are, whatever you do, we can use your help.

Everyone helps, everyone wins.
For more information on the over 230 volunteer opportunities in and around LA for Big Sunday '06, please visit here.