WCCH Speech Pathologist Inspires and Helps Patients Who Suffer From Swallowing Disorders


Wytheville, VA – In recent years, there have been a growing number of professionals that are seeing their patients with swallowing disorders make significant progress with new therapies and treatments.  Debbie Simons has been helping her patients at Your Body Works, a service of WCCH, for many years through continued training in her field as a speech pathologist.  Debbie is one of only 250 speech pathologists in the United States to have Modified Barium Swallow Technician status.

A Modified Barium Swallow (MBS) is a fluoroscopic procedure designed to determine whether food or liquid is entering a person’s lungs, also known as aspiration.  It permits the medical team to observe the coordination of anatomical structures in the mouth and throat, as they are actively functioning when chewing, drinking, and swallowing. It also identifies the reason for aspiration.

The Modified Barium Swallow enables the speech pathologist and the physician to identify more clearly the reason or etiology of swallowing disorder, rule out aspiration and make decisions regarding management of the patient’s swallowing disorder. The speech pathologist needs a specific etiology identified before swallowing treatment can be initiated. A treatment plan is developed for each patient specific to individual needs.

Linda Post, a resident of Hillsville Virginia and a patient of Debbie’s says, “the swallowing program with Debbie Simons has been a ‘God send’ for me.  It is the first time in many years that I have been able to eat three meals in one day without choking."

While proficient in this treatment therapy, Debbie holds certifications in:  Lee Silverman Voice Treatment for Parkinson’s Patients, Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech, Voice, Swallowing, Language Disorders (CCC), VitalStim Neuromuscular Stimulation approved by FDA to improve swallowing, Listening Skills and Spoken Language in Children with Hearing Loss and she is a registered Oral Motor Therapist.

Dr. George Farrell, and ENT specialty said, “I have worked in coordination with her over my five years as an otolaryngologist at Wythe County Community Hospital.  She has been a vital member of the team approach in the management of infants, children, adolescences and adult disorders of speech, language and swallowing.  She has been a vital part of developing our hospital as a center of excellence for these disorders.  We want to recognize her recent academic accomplishment of becoming a Registered Modified Barium Swallow Technician.  She is also certified for swallowing therapy with head and neck cancer."

In April 2012, Debbie was chosen by the Leadership in Healthcare through the American Speech and Hearing Association for her project in oral care which is now in the WCCH hospital wide policy and procedure manual for patients oral care.  She is one of 30 nationwide to hold that certification.

Tim Bess, Wythe County Community Hospital CEO states, “Debbie endeavors to accommodate our communities needs and responds to the ongoing responsibilities of providing health care in a positive and supportive way.  She enables us to share our vision to provide the highest level of quality care.

As the director of rehabilitative services at WCCH, Debbie Clark says, “ those of us in rehab that work with Debbie Simons are inspired by her dedication and her passion to continue her education toward benefiting her patients.”

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