Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Demand for kidsí health services drops

Roaming treatment still available

Express Staff Writer

When the only Idaho Department of Health and Welfare office in Blaine County closed on May 11 due to budget cuts, the roaming out-of-office services for children didn't go with it.

However, Stacey Hyde-Mecham, a children's speech language pathologist, and physical therapist Gloria Gunter said they are seeing fewer children for some reason.

Hyde-Mecham goes to the homes of children up to 3 years old who are having trouble developing their speech or have feeding concerns. She said she used to see enough children in the county to keep her busy for two to three days a week, but that's dwindled to half a day.

"It's been pretty much a steady decline," said Hyde-Mecham, who's been offering the state-funded service at no charge for five years.

She said she has about six children on her caseload, and one in 10 usually requires speech therapy.

"I know there are more than 60 kids that age in Blaine County," she said.

She said she recently learned of a mothers group that was under the impression that there's no such service in the valley, and they go to Twin Falls or Boise to get it.

Gunter said she experiences the same problem.

"Parents aren't aware, and it seems like physicians forget," said Gunter, who treats children over age 3, billing their health insurance for the physical therapy. "It's worth a reminder."

Parents don't need a doctor's referral for these services but can refer their children on their own. Call 736-2182 or (800) 432-3255.

Trevon Milliard:

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