Dr. Shari Berkowitz, SLP, and faculty member at Mercy College, and Roseanne Grateraux, a graduate student at Mercy College, joined Healing the Children Northeast on a medical mission to Sucre, Bolivia this past September.
They joined surgeons, anesthesiologists, a pediatrician, a cardiologist, and nurses from different states who all came together to treat children with cleft lips and cleft palates.
On this trip, Dr. Berkowitz and Ms. Grateraux provided assessment, counseling, and treatment to approximately 50 children of Sucre, Bolivia. They provided pre- and post-surgery speech pathology services to the children with cleft lips and palates who also presented with speech, language, and feeding/swallowing problems. In all, approximately thirty children had surgery to repair their cleft lip or cleft palate.
Two teenagers, both fourteen years old and born with cleft palates, were able to get surgery for the first time. These children had never received any type of therapy and had lived their whole lives with communication, feeding, and swallowing difficulties. Another child with a cleft lip and palate, 1-month-old, was withdrawn from a feeding tube and given milk from a special bottle provided by the Speech Team for the first time. This infant was too young and small for surgery, but the Speech Team worked with the parents on feeding and speech development strategies. The baby will receive surgery in January, when the team returns to Bolivia.
The Speech Team provided therapeutic intervention and counseling to all children and their families who came to speech clinic, including children with developmental delays, and collaborated with the onsite child learning center.
“Having this opportunity to serve children in so much need and apply what I’ve learned in graduate school is truly priceless.” said Ms. Grateraux.
Dr. Berkowitz and Dr. Buhler have been traveling across the globe with
Healing the Children Northeast, Inc. since 2011.