Adapting our work to reach patients where they are during the pandemic – and after.

FACES offers both surgical and speech interventions for patients suffering from cleft palates and lips. This is a successful, long-term model of comprehensive care, maintaining a strong and sustainable connection with patients.

Speech interventions have been an integral part of our work, providing critical care and accompaniment to patients as they navigate a new world, post-surgery.

Although the 2020-2021 pandemic has temporarily grounded our surgical interventions, our speech therapy accompaniment has truly taken flight. We have been delivering speech therapy virtually to an ever-growing group of young FACES patients, expanding this essential work to reach out in this new setting.

And our outreach is growing with each year…

The patients benefit from ongoing speech therapy in two key ways: we are able to check in with them throughout the year and make sure they are on the right track (targeting the correct sounds with the right strategies), and we are also able to work with the families so that they can continue the speech therapy practice regularly in the home.

There was one moment during a teletherapy speech session when we were logging off with one patient and she held up a heart sign with her hands. It was a special moment when you could tell she appreciated our help and missed us. I know the providers on the zoom felt the same way. I know we are all looking forward to being back in person in the future.

Chelsea Sommer, MS, CCC-SLP is a bilingual Spanish-English speaking speech and language pathologist.

Through virtual speech therapy, I can see our patients have more confidence to express their feelings and emotions, they smile more, they are more relaxed and now they turn on their cameras, I can see they have fun in their speech sessions too. In one of the sessions, I heard one patient say he was doing research about cleft problems, and he could understand better why he had some problems producing the “S” sound. To me this was great because you can see they worry more about themselves, and this is making them more conscious about their speech problems while learning they can produce better sounds. 

“The most rewarding thing to me during all these sessions is when I can hear patients saying they listen to their own speech sound different, and this is making their self-esteem grow on themselves. I personally think when self-esteem grows inside of yourself you feel more powerful, and you start looking for other horizons in life. I also think parents feel happier because their children are making progress.”

Delia Delgado Maldonado is FACES’s Peru Patient Coordinator