KOTH Telepathology: Speech-Language Therapy - Update #2


A proposal is being put together to secure funding for speech and language therapy to be provided via K-Net telehealth to communities in the Sioux Lookout Zone of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. A needs assessment plan is being developed so as to collect primary and secondary data to determine the need for this service and the consequences of its absence. The primary data is proposed to be collected through interviews with speech-language therapists, people who require speech and language services, potential candidates for speech and language services, significant others of current and potential users of speech and language services, administrators of local schools, and health administrators in the target communities.

            Secondary data has been collected linking speech and language problems to low socio-economic status, poor academic performance, juvenile delinquency, anxiety disorders, antisocial personality disorder, substance use disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, lower IQ, lower social competence, lower visual motor integrative performance, and co-morbidity between: (1) depression and drug abuse, (2) antisocial behaviour and substance use disorder, and (3) anxiety disorder and depression. Many of these factors are also correlated to increased risk of academic failure, juvenile delinquency, adult criminality, suicide, and mental health issues. First Nations people are at increased risk for almost all of these factors.

            Economic costs to society based on the correlations between morbidity and speech-language impairments found in the research have been calculated to be up to the million dollar range per individual who does not receive treatment. These costs do not justify the cuts to Non- Insured Health Branch of Health Canada (NIHB) funding for new referrals who require speech-language services. The newly proposed telepathology program will involve the combined partnership of the George Jeffries Treatment Centre, KO Telehealth, the NORTH network, NIHB, and Nishnawbe-Aski First Nations communities to provide improved service, convenience, and cost savings for First Nations people requiring speech-language services.