At Bethany Children’s Health Center, our employees truly are the heartbeat that drives the organization. Every day, through the care and service they provide, they live our mission of maximizing the potential of every child and exemplify our core values of compassion, integrity, excellence, service and stewardship.
We hope you enjoy getting to know our amazing employees through our Heartbeat profiles.
Technology with a Purpose
How Speech-Language Pathologist Misty Milligan embraces assistive technology to help patients
When Misty Milligan wanted to learn sign language as a college student, she had no idea where that desire to connect and communicate with others would take her. Purdue University did not offer a sign language interpreting program at the time, so she pursued a Speech Language and Hearing Sciences degree, thinking she would become an interpreter after graduating. She was intrigued by her classes and chose the path of becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) instead.
Misty returned to Oklahoma after graduating and fell in love with the patients at Bethany Children’s Health Center during her rotation. She went on to work in a skilled facility but knew she had an undeniable connection to the hospital.
Because every child Misty works with uses some kind of assistive technology, she gets excited by her work every day. “I love assistive technology. It is amazing what is out there to help patients communicate, eat, speak and just do the little things we take for granted,” she says. Devices include everything from pictures to voice output and high-tech communication devices, or a switch that allows the child to play with a toy, use a computer or help during a cooking activity.
She has many inspiring patient stories, but one of the first patients she worked with in the outpatient clinic grew by leaps and bounds with the device given to him. “He was on the Autism spectrum and had few words,” she recalls. “We gave him a high-tech communication device to try at home. He learned so quickly, and in that short two-week trial had learned to tell his family his basic wants and needs. His grandmother was so excited when they came back for the follow-up appointment.”
SLPs at the hospital evaluate and assess patients to decide what level and type of communication system works best for them. “We see kids who have had brain injuries and are having difficulty with word-finding, following directions and problem-solving activities. Patients with trach tubes are evaluated for their ability to tolerate a speaking valve, which helps their respiratory system, increases smell and allows them to vocalize,” Misty shares. “We work closely with audiology to make sure our kids have hearing aids if necessary.” SLPs at the hospital also work with patients with feeding difficulties, oral aversions and dysphagia (swallowing difficulties).
Hospital COVID-19 protocols have been challenging for SLPs and patients, because group activities where patients can serve as models for each other have been restricted. Always looking for ways to motivate her patients to advance, Misty says, “Group activities help with the kids’ progress tremendously. We will be glad when they can be back with their friends and we can continue our group activities.”
First Job: “I worked at a bagel shop when I was 16.”
Favorite Hobbies: “My hobbies are my kids. I have six kids, and they play all the sports. It keeps us very busy. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”
Favorite Food: Mexican
Favorite TV Show: Yellowstone
Best Road Trip: “We drive to either Lake Tahoe or San Diego every summer. Those are always eventful.
From the Bucket List: An Alaskan cruise