Flexible Endoscopic Evaluations of Swallowing (FEES) are an essential component of the diagnosis and treatment of dysphagia. At skilled nursing facilities, one of the many barriers to providing informed, quality care that clinicians face includes access to this fundamental linchpin in the assessment process.
When I first started working in skilled nursing, I was flabbergasted to find clinicians treating dysphagia on a tracheostomy and ventilator unit without access to FEES or other objective measures. The challenges of transportation posed an insurmountable barrier for these patients and clinicians to access local resources for objective testing within the community.
Thus, I started to inquire about mobile FEES. When I connected with Language Fundamentals and began speaking with their team, I knew their services were imperative to providing quality service within my role. They began providing mobile FEES service to the skilled nursing facility and I was blown away by the initiative to collaborate. This was not your ordinary diagnostician coming in to write a report and move on to the next facility. Instead, the providers were interested in involving me, the treating clinician, in the assessment and procedure process so that I could interpret results to formulate the best treatment plan for my patients.
Mobile FEES is such an undervalued service, and more skilled nursing facilities need to provide access to this service to improve patient quality care and allow Speech Language Pathologists to access this crucial information. The quality-of-life benefits as well as the financial benefits of FEES include reduced use of thickener products, unnecessarily; reduced incidence of re-hospitalization due to aspiration related pneumonias; and many more! I was able to see firsthand the multitude of benefits that mobile FEES has to offer and I strongly encourage other SLPs, nurses, administrators, and faculty/ staff of skilled nursing facilities to pursue mobile FEES options in their geographic region.
About the Author: Lillian A. Ackermann is an outpatient Speech Pathologist at NYU Langone Long Island. She is also a per diem employee with several companies that service skilled nursing facilities across Long Island. Lilly is a graduate of Hofstra University with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech, Language, and Hearing Science. She also earned a Master of Arts in Speech and Language from the University of Connecticut.