Speech therapy a 'good fit'

Friday, November 22, 2013

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A new line of speech therapy devices has more than made up for losing out on Round 2 contracts, says provider Doug Westerdahl. 

“We’ve moved on and never looked back,” said Westerdahl, president of Rochester, N.Y.-based Monroe Wheelchair. 

The augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices help people, such as those with ALS or autistic children, to communicate, says Jonathan Walters. 

“Communication is one of the foundations for people to learn and grow and interact with the world around them,” said Walters, a director of sales at Monroe Wheelchair. “We give them their ability to communicate back.”

Monroe markets the new line through networking, social media and trade shows. It also hired a former salesperson for an AAC manufacturer who had the skills and training needed—plus name recognition.

“Everybody knew her,” said Westerdahl.

Medicare, Medicaid and private payers pay for the devices, which cost from $3,000 to $10,000. The model for providing the equipment is very similar to complex rehab, Westerdahl said.

“The amount of work is the same, and the focus on documentation and paperwork,” he said. “It’s a good fit for us.”

Westerdahl credits the new division’s success with Monroe’s approach to providing the equipment: While a manufacturer might have one representative for three states, Monroe has three to serve New York. Selection is also 


“Most manufacturers sell this direct to consumers, and they only sell their own products,” said Westerdahl. “We can offer a number of different choices from five different manufacturers.”