Speech Therapy Cambodia currently supports teams of Cambodian dysphagia clinicians at three public hospitals in Phnom Penh: Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital (including the Sihanouk Geriatric Center), Calmette Hospital, and Kossamak Hospital.
Our Established Cambodian Dysphagia Clinicians
KHMER SOVIET FRIENDSHIP HOSPITAL
In total, there are now 12 doctors, nurses, and physical therapists who have passed competencies to perform evaluation and treatment of swallowing disorders (dysphagia) across these three hospitals. Of these, seven Cambodian clinicians have been practicing for two years under licensed western speech pathologist supervision, and are regularly evaluated. Five clinicians operate in an advisory capacity and/or only do FEES evaluations.
Newest Cambodian Dysphagia Clinicians
An additional eight nurses (from KSFH and Calmette Hospital) have recently passed the first stages of their training (lectures and exams,) and are now starting their clinical practicums.
Welcome to our newest team members, and we wish you best of luck in this second stage of your training!!
EMPLOYEES AND SUPPORT STAFF
The work of our Cambodian dysphagia clinicians is supported by two experienced speech-language pathologists who provide ongoing training and clinical supervision, and by our great support staff.
Annie Johnson qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist in 2008 with an MSc (City, University of London). She also holds a BSc in Psychology (University of York). Annie worked for the NHS in London for nine years, before moving to Phnom Penh in October 2017. Since then, she has worked as a Speech and Language Therapist in Cambodia, gaining experience in both the NGO and private sectors. She has a clinical background spanning numerous clinical areas, including adult neuro-rehabilitation, head and neck cancer, acute hospital care and paediatric communication disorders. Her specialties include acute traumatic brain injury, dysphagia and intensive care. Annie leads our Phnom Penh based team, whilst providing direct supervision and training to our Cambodian clinicians, as well as working with the team to develop SSTC’s programs.
Paula Espinosa graduated as a Speech-Language Pathologist in 2008, from Rosario University (Bogota–Colombia). She also holds a Master’s in Audiology and Special Educational Needs from Alcala and Rioja University (Madrid–Spain). Paula has lived and worked in low-middle income countries since 2013 and therefore has a deep understanding of how to adapt and apply her skills to the Cambodian context. After a period of time living and working in central and West Africa, Paula moved to Cambodia and shortly afterwards, in 2018, joined the SSTC team. She has clinical experience in acute care, inpatients, and outpatient rehabilitation and enjoys specializing in swallowing evaluation and treatment. Paula is passionate about making a positive difference to the lives of Cambodian patients.
Clara Montes is a Mexican Speech, Language and Hearing therapist who graduated from University del Valle de Mexico Campus Queretaro in 2015. Clara also holds a master’s degree in motor skills development (2017, University of Puebla). Clara joined the SSTC team in 2020 as a part-time volunteer. She supports/assists our permanent clinical staff in the delivery of our training programs and our administrative staff in areas such as social-media.
After completing her studies, Clara worked at a Neuro-developmental Research Unit, as a co-ordinator of a Speech and Language department in a Down Syndrome Center and as a hearing therapist in a deaf children’s center. Since 2019, Clara has lived and worked in Phnom Penh where, in addition to volunteering with SSTC, she works as a private paediatric Speech-Language Therapist.
Mr Leng Veasna has worked for SSTC since 2017. Prior to joining SSTC, Veasna completed two degrees (English for Business Communication at the National Institute of Business; and International Relations, Pannasastra University of Cambodia). He was previously employed as a Civil Society Strengthening/Communication officer at Plan International. Veasna leads SSTC’s administration in Cambodia.
His work is varied and involves, for example, filing our annual reports with the Ministry of the Interior, submitting our expense reports and taxes or setting up work permits with the Ministry of Labor. He is also instrumental in providing support and expertise to our foreign clinicians, such as negotiating with key officials and leadership in our hospitals, collating data, organizing and participating in presentations and official meetings, and so much more. Veasna also contributes to the strategic planning of the organization, helping us to establish goals that are sustainable and culturally applicable to Cambodia.
Mrs. Khan Dalin
Mrs. Khan Dalin joined the SSTC team in January 2020. Dalin is currently studying for a BSc degree in Community and Public Health (University of the People, USA). She has previously worked in Phnom Penh as a teaching assistant in a large international school, and as an English/Khmer interpreter. In her role at SSTC, she is responsible for translating written documents and facilitating spoken communication between foreign staff/volunteers and Cambodian clinicians, patients, and families.
She also interprets for SSTC at conferences and presentations. Furthermore, she has helped to develop our English-Khmer dysphagia glossary. The skills, vocabulary, and knowledge required to interpret/translate English-Khmer, for the Speech-Language Pathology field, are rare and highly specialized. With her mixture of language skills and education in Community and Public health, Dalin is perfectly placed to provide this critical service to our organization. Finally, Dalin supports the team with the creation and publishing of our social media communications.
None of this would be possible without another team—our wonderful volunteers. Over 30 speech therapists and educators have volunteered with Speech Therapy Cambodia since 2014 to provide training and supervision to STC-trained clinicians.
In addition, professors and clinical supervisors from universities and clinics in Australia, the UK and the US have volunteered their time to develop course materials in collaboration with STC to deliver lectures in the PT Bridging Program, the very first university program in Cambodia to address any aspect of speech language pathology (dysphagia).
A LITTLE HISTORY: OUR ORIGINAL TEAMS
Our program officially began in January 2014 at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital, Department of Neurology in Phnom Penh. For two months, we trained two neurologists, a general medicine MD, and one physical therapist in the basics of swallowing evaluation and therapy. This was the first training program of its kind in Cambodia.
In 2015 we began a program at a second hospital, Calmette Hospital, where we conducted trainings for nine physical therapists in swallowing evaluation and therapy.
In early 2016, we began two additional programs for the adult population at the new Sihanouk Geriatric Center and at Kossamak Hospital, both in Phnom Penh. Four PTs were trained at Sihanouk Geriatric Center, and two RNs and two PTs were trained at Kossamak Hospital.
We are very grateful to our original teams, as they taught us so much about how to develop a dysphagia program. Because of their help, we were able to begin writing materials specific to a Cambodian context, and were able to see what worked and what didn’t work in terms of education of potential clinicians.
We learned about attrition (always train many more people than you need!) and our experiences led to our current model of lectures, exams, and practicums with competency requirements, developed in 2017 by SLPs Gerri Harris and Stacey Arthur.
If you look at the photos of each original team, you can spot one, two, or three clinicians from each team who are still very much involved in our program.
TEAMS: THE NEXT GENERATION
In late 2016, we began to teach a second generation of teams at both Sihanouk Geriatric Center (affiliated with Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital), and at Kossamak Hospital.
From this generation, two of the four PTs trained at KSFH, and four of the five doctors and nurses trained at Kossamak Hospital, are among our current dysphagia clinicians—a great retention rate!
Three of the very first group of dysphagia trainees at Calmette Hospital are now on our current team there.
At the end of 2017, SLPs Gerri Harris and Stacey Arthur initiated our current training model, described above. Gerri and Stacey were concerned that many trainees were missing classes (usually due to work) and therefore had holes in their education. It was time to step up requirements for our trainees so that quality dysphagia management could be provided. So, they organized an intensive training program with lectures and strict exams, and clinical competencies to be achieved.
For this effort, they developed a 300-page training manual (all translated into Khmer) and training videos, handouts for family education, and much more. To say that their tenure was transformative for our program is an understatement.
MS. PHIVAN NORNG
Phivan joined our STC team in 2015. She was our original translator, interpreter, administrative assistant, treasurer, and everything else. Phivan greatly helped us in our initial efforts, even accompanying our founder to villages to do exploratory work regarding Cambodian needs for speech-language therapy.
In 2016, Phivan single-handedly set up our registration as a Cambodian NGO (SSTC) with the Ministry of the Interior in Cambodia, a feat not easy to accomplish.
Phivan resigned from STC and SSTC at the end of 2017. We remain very grateful to her for her many contributions.
How you can help
We are looking for experienced SLPs who have worked in Southeast Asia or other developing/ majority nations, or who have traveled extensively in these countries. Come to Cambodia and teach with us!
IT and social media skills are also needed to help with our website, Twitter, and Facebook.
Like us on Facebook; connect with us on Twitter and on other social media. Spread the word! Let your friends know about our work.
Connect us with organizations or people who might be able to further our mission, including major donors or foundations.
As a 501(c)(3) we rely on donations from people like you to support our mission in Cambodia. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation today please click the link, or visit our page on Razoo.com.