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Speech, physical therapists join St. Luke staff

Staff writer

Over the past 10 years, the therapy department at St. Luke Hospital has grown from working out of a conference room to having its own dedicated space by the front desk.

Two new hires have further expanded the department: Jennica O’Neill, a 2021 Wichita State graduate and physical therapist, and Veronica DeSelms, St. Luke’s first full-time speech therapist.

DeSelms transferred to St. Luke from an Emporia hospital and appreciates how she can build connections with patients in a small hospital.

“It’s got a very small-town feel,” she said.

O’Neill, who studied at St. Luke as an undergraduate, likes having direct contact with patients’ providers.

“I feel like my patients can get treatment immediately,” she said. “I can refer them to someone on the same day.”

O’Neill wanted to do animal physical therapy before deciding in graduate school that she liked working with people. She will be treating athletes at Marion High School’s home games and helping patients with anything from general weakness to car crash injuries.

DeSelms’ work as a speech therapist goes past voice treatment to helping newborns with difficulty nursing and geriatric patients with cognition issues.

She got into speech therapy through an anatomy and physiology course in high school.

“I wanted to help people and do something that intrigues me,” she said.

DeSelms’ daughter will be going into kindergarten in Marion. She wants to work with St. Luke marketing director Roger Schroeder to inform more people about speech therapy.

O’Neill recently moved to Marion and will marry Chase Carlson in September. She is interested in getting her golden retriever certified as a therapy animal so she can take it to St. Luke.

Neither would prefer to specialize in only one type of practice. Both are eager to treat whoever comes to St. Luke.

“Treat all the things,” O’Neill said. “Our community needs someone to treat what walks through our door.”

Last modified Aug. 18, 2021

 

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