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The gift of speech: Fund provides therapy services to local families


The speech therapy fund benefits pediatric speech therapy patients at Mount Nittany Medical Center. From left to right: Elizabeth Rodriguez, MS, CF, SLP, speech-language pathologist, Mount Nittany Medical Center; Dylan Miller; Lance T. Shaner; Layla Miller; Maryjane Miller; and Alyson Miller.

Speech and language disorders affect one’s ability to talk, understand, read and write. Such disorders have different causes, and may range from a few speech sound errors and repetitions of sounds or words, to a total loss of the ability to use speech to communicate effectively. The prevalence of speech sound disorders in young children is eight to nine percent. By the first grade, roughly five percent of children have noticeable speech disorders, and the majority of these speech disorders have no known cause. With early treatment, many of these disorders can be reversed or even prevented.

While children may receive speech-language therapy services during the school year, progress may stop in the summer months when they do not have access to the services. Most insurance companies cap speech services, making it hard for families to pay out-of-pocket to cover costs of weekly therapy sessions. Lance Shaner recently supported this gap in service with a philanthropic gift to Mount Nittany Health Foundation.  “I have experienced and witnessed children having issues with their speech having a hard time in school fitting in due to a diagnosed speech impairment,” says Shaner. “We have supported programs to assist with these types of therapies in the past in this community and know that this can do a tremendous amount of good. It just made good sense fitting in with our support and commitment to children and healthcare in this community,” he adds.

Mount Nittany Health began the pediatric speech program in 2015. Led by Janet Pennington, MS, CCC/L, speech-language pathologist, outpatient services include childhood speech and language delays, voice/communication disorders, and swallowing disorders. “When the Foundation indicated they had a donor interested in supporting a gap in this important service, I immediately was an advocate and worked closely with the Foundation,” says Pennington. Mount Nittany Health speech therapy refers the families to the revenue cycle department that, in turn,  works with the families on  the details of covering the cost for the service.   

“I am pleased to participate in this needed service,” says Shaner. My hope is that it will generate additional philanthropic interest to the program in this very generous community.”

To learn more about speech language pathology services at Mount Nittany Health, visit or call 814.278.4662.To make a gift to the pediatric speech therapy fund, call Mount Nittany Health Foundation at 814.234.6777 or visit

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