You can have the most advanced technology in the world, but without leadership, ultimate success is not achievable. Leadership excellence and compassion is a unique symbiosis in the department of Speech and Language Pathology at Beaumont Health & Wellness Center (BHWC).
The department sees many patients each day who have mobility and speech loss associated with surgery or neurological disease. These patients are not only entering the clinic to start or continue rehabilitation, they are engaging a place of hope and possibility. Individuals begin a personal journey toward recovery with the support of a strong team of professionals, inspired and driven by the welcoming and compassionate leadership of Kathy Roeder, Director, Speech Pathology Adult Services at Beaumont Health and Carolyn Doty, MA, CCC, who manages the BHWC team.
KATHY ROEDER AND EUGENE APPLEBAUM:
Kathy Roeder and Eugene Applebaum shared a special connection. Working together for five years, their friendship blossomed, and they bonded over a love of family, laughter, hard work and an innate instinct to help others. They shared memories together, Kathy offered encouragement and hope in her speech work with Eugene and together they had a good time. It was Eugene’s wisdom and resilience that inspired Kathy the most, she recalled “there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t hear him in my ear.” Their connection is not uncommon within the department, Kathy and her team lead with a vested interest in their patients: a combination of understanding and empathy in every interaction.
With a focused passion on effective communication to maximize successful interpersonal relations, and a unique ability to connect with and relate to all people, Kathy Roeder transforms lives. She helped to transform Eugene’s life, and in turn, he inspired and transformed Kathy Roeder.
APPLEBAUM GIFT TO BEAUMONT SPEECH AND LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY
In 2018, after Eugene Applebaum’s passing, the Applebaum Family honored Kathy, her leadership, and team’s hard work with a gift to Beaumont Speech Pathology Department. The simple request was that Kathy identify the highest and best use of the funds to advance her leadership to improve lives.
ADVANCING HEALTH AND CARE
The Applebaum’s gift to Speech Pathology for Kathy contributed to a pivotal point of technological development for the department. With health and medicine continued to be shaped by ever changing innovative technology, Kathy researched for an emerging technological change agent. Kathy shared:
I was looking up dysphagia, new technologies, biofeedback, surface EMG, going through a lot of abstracts and studies thinking, ‘well there has to be something else!’
This “something else” came in the form of a new technology, Synchrony. The system works by analyzing the success of a swallow and visually presents feedback in an exercise visualization and animation. Kathy recounted life before Synchrony:
So, we were telling people ‘swallow hard’, ‘do this this maneuver’, ‘do that exercise’. It’s kind of like saying that your foot is completely numb and that I’m asking, ‘how does your shoe feel?’
After losing speech and mobility from a surgery removing a benign tumor, Mr. W. was left unable to swallow. AFP visited Beaumont Speech Pathology Health in March 2020; 16 months after his surgery. After successfully finishing therapy and achieving the ability to swallow again, Mr. W. explained “I do not know what you did with patients before this!”.
Most of all, Mr. W. exclaimed that it was the motivating and compassionate leadership of the staff, led by Kathy, that dramatically improved his life. He shared that he did not enjoy the therapy – “it was hard work!”, yet, he cherished the relationships formed and the inspiration realized.
Applebaum Family Philanthropy (AFP) visits Beaumont’s Speech Pathology in March, 2020. (from left) Kathy Roeder, Mr. W, Jenny Maurer (M.A., CCC-SLP), Andrew Echt (AFP).
LEADING WITH TECHNOLOGY:
Although Synchrony continues to make a transformative difference in the therapeutic outcomes of patients, the system alone does not ensure ultimate success. It is the leadership of Kathy Roeder and her staff that propel patients to achieve a new reality – to reclaim their voice.
After seeing the department in action and meeting with Mr. W, AFP’s question to Kathy was, how do you recruit a team who embody the values that you lead with? Kathy shared:
Start with the idea … you just close your eyes for a minute and switch the roles. And you’re them. In a heartbeat, you’re that person. You’re fine today and tomorrow you’re not … so we don’t look at the reality, but the reality is that, in a second, you are the person who is sitting across from you. I think once you start with that level of understanding and empathy, the rest does tend to follow and then you have to be their champion and if at the end of the time, you end up friends, things went well.
It is clear that her entire team has the composite sense of empathy and compassion that Kathy embodies. The importance of knowing who the person really is reigns supreme: what they think, what they value, how they feel and who they are:
So, it is that, in combination with therapeutically knowing what to do, you combine the science with the entire sense of who that person is as a human being. They know you; you know them, you have a vested interest in each other.
Kathy provides model leadership, guiding her department with this mindset at all times. Her recipe for success: the right people building relationships with empathy and compassion leads to the greatest possibility of changing lives.
These days, especially when we are so reliant on technology, it is important to remember that technology can indeed change lives, but leadership transforms them. We have no doubt that this is one of the reasons why Eugene Applebaum and Kathy Roeder got along so well and forged a special bond. With a spirit and energy that is contagious, it is only fitting to see Beaumont Speech and Language Pathology continue to expand and advance to new heights under Kathy’s direction.
- Read more about Kathy’s impact through her award as one of Crain’s 2020 Notable Women in Health
- Read more about Beaumont Speech and Language Pathology