Employees of the Eckelmann-Taylor Speech and Hearing Clinic were recently honored with the University’s Living Our Values Award for their commitment to the institutional value of Learning and Scholarship.

Those honored from the clinic include: Kim Adelman, Cara Boester, Becky Braun, Julie Burns, Lindsay Diekhoff, Jaime Ellsworth, Sarah Laning, Tricia Larkin, Rene McClure, Candice Osenga, Jennifer Ragusa, Diana Rojas, Alyssa Seeman, Rachel Wood, and Amy Yacucci, as well as Jason McCrone from CAS-IT.

The Living Our Values (LOV) awards recognize individuals and groups that exemplify Illinois State’s core values of Learning and Scholarship, Diversity and Inclusion, Respect, Collaboration, Individualized Attention, Civic Engagement, and Integrity, as found in Educate Connect Elevate: Illinois State – The Strategic Plan for Illinois’ First Public University 2018-2023. The awards celebrate the commitment to live the University’s values every day and strengthen the campus community by sharing those values.

Day to day, the clinic provides comprehensive, innovative speech-language services and hearing healthcare in Bloomington-Normal and surrounding communities. Doctors of audiology work with doctoral students to diagnose and treat hearing loss and related problems, providing customized treatment plans for each patient. The licensed, certified speech-language pathologists identify and remediate the full range of speech-language deficits across the lifespan.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the clinic had to immediately adapt patient visits and clinical experiences for students through teamwork, collaboration, and positive attitudes while embracing the transition.

Ensuring students obtained clinical experiences to progress toward degree completion required a transition to more simulated clinical experiences, which meant the clinical educators in audiology and speech language pathology spent hours learning and collaborating on different platforms in order to quickly learn new methods to teach students.

During the stay-at-home period, audiologists and office staff rotated time slots in order to ensure patients still had access to necessary hearing healthcare. Speech-language pathologists transitioned their services to telehealth.

Clinic Director Heidi Verticchio nominated her colleagues for the award. According to Verticchio, “our team jumped into learning mode to acquire professional knowledge for themselves, to continue teaching our students, and to provide much needed clinical experiences. They went above and beyond to demonstrate compassion and engagement during unprecedented times.” 

Of the innovations discovered and implemented by the clinic, some are here to stay, even as they transition back to “normal times.”

“Some of the simulations that work on specialty competencies have already been incorporated into courses, such as cochlear implant (CI) programming and auditory processing disorder (APD) testing,” said Candice Osenga, director of clinical education, AUD. “We recognize that these, along with other simulations, like auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing and interpretation, provide the students with extra practice, therefore giving them more confidence when seeing a live patient in the clinic.”

Director of Clinical Education SLP Cara Boester added “services have been more accessible for some patients. We hope to continue to offer teletherapy as an option for those patients who wouldn’t be able to access services otherwise.”

Nominees for the Living Our Values awards can be any current Illinois State student, faculty, or staff member, or a group of people at Illinois State working toward a program or initiative that reflects the core values. Nominations can be made via the Educate Connect Elevate website.