Stories from the Pandemic: Alison Letvinchuk '16MA

Communication Disorders alumna Alison Letvinchuk with a patient during a virtual visit

Communication Disorders alumna Alison Letvinchuk (holding an iPad) with a
patient during a virtual visit at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

July 28, 2020

The ongoing public health crisis caused by the coronavirus has made abundantly clear the importance of our public health and health sciences workforce. In these unprecedented times, we all find inspiration in the work being conducted by our alumni as they work to help, care, educate, and protect our communities. Read about one experience in our "Stories from the Pandemic" series below.

Alison Letvinchuk received her MA degree in Communication Disorders in 2016. She currently works as a speech-language pathologist with Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. She helped implement a Virtual Visitors Program to connect patients who remained in isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. Click here for more coverage on the Virtual Visitors Program from WCVB-5 Boston.

How has pandemic affected you professionally?

During the pandemic, my role as a speech-language pathologist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital (Boston, MA) changed when families and friends were no longer able to visit the hospital. My managers and I developed a "Virtual Visitors Program" to connect patients with their families and friends virtually. 

Initially, the program was developed to provide virtual social visits through platforms such as ZOOM, FaceTime and GoogleDuo. However, as the pandemic continued, we also saw the need to use this program as a way to include family in therapy sessions. The presence of families and friends during therapy provides motivation as patients learn to walk and talk again. It is important for families to feel comfortable with implementing systems and strategies so patients are safe upon return home. Friends and family are a big part of a patient's rehabilitation and we wanted each patient to have the support system they needed. 
 
How has your background in communication disorders helped you during this crisis?
 
At Spaulding, many of our patients have a difficult time communicating as they recover from a stroke, spinal cord injury or a brain injury. My education in communication sciences and disorders helped me during this crisis to know how to best communicate with each patient and assist in providing ways for the patient to engage in conversation with their loved ones through virtual platforms.
 
Do you have any advice for our current students, or other thoughts you would like to share with our SPHHS community?

My best advice is to always treat your patients with respect, compassion and flexibility. Always remember that your patient is a part of someone’s family.