Springfield, MO

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Owner Melanie Stinnett says pediatrics make up 90 percent of her company’s business.
SBJ photo by Wes Hamilton
Owner Melanie Stinnett says pediatrics make up 90 percent of her company’s business.

2018 Economic Impact Awards 1-5 Years in Operation Finalist: TheraCare Outpatient Services LLC

Early Intervention

Posted online

Sometimes, special needs patients seek a different touch outside of a hospital environment. That’s where TheraCare Outpatient Services LLC comes into play.

TheraCare provides speech, occupational and feeding therapy for all ages, but it mainly focuses on pediatrics, which is about 90 percent of the for-profit business, says owner Melanie Stinnett.

“What we’re a big proponent of here is early prevention,” she says. “The earlier the better. We’re not the ‘wait and see’ approach place.

“If a child has a delay of any kind, the best treatment is early.”

TheraCare’s goal is to work on increasing the services and opportunities available to children with special needs. Parents of children with special needs often are lacking educational and networking opportunities for their children and themselves, Stinnett says.

Sometimes, providing those opportunities comes in the form of a service that doesn’t always require much time from TheraCare employees.

“We do low-cost day care and preschool screenings,” she says. “So many times we are not getting caseload off of that. It’s just a service opportunity to provide education to parents.”

Stinnett says sometimes those children and parents are referred to a service outside of TheraCare’s scope, but that’s part of the company’s mission.

“We just want to educate people so that children can get the most appropriate services,” she says.

Increasing these opportunities means adding jobs for therapists. Stinnett says she employs five speech-language pathologists, three occupational therapists, one speech-language pathology assistant, one occupational therapy assistant and three office staff members.

When not providing outpatient services or raising awareness in Springfield, Stinnett has traveled in the past year to Jefferson City, participating in legislative hearings relating to TheraCare’s population.

In 2017, she spoke on Missouri Disability Empowerment. MoDE targets expanding the mandate for insurance to cover a variety of disabilities. As it stands, Stinnett says, coverage availability is good for children with autism, but not always for those barely falling outside of the spectrum.

“What we find with insurance companies is they will have exclusions on their plans,” she says. “We may get a child comes in, is 3 years old, and has never developed speech. Well, their insurance company doesn’t cover it because they didn’t gain speech and then lose it. It’s not rehabilitation, it’s habilitation.”

Stinnett says starting treatment early with development delays makes a big difference in improving a child’s quality of life, as well as making a positive impact in other areas.

“If we’re providing early intervention in an appropriate manner, then we are improving costs later,” she says. “It’s important all the way around, for the child, for the stakeholders in insurance companies, for our school programs. If we want to see successful children, we really need to be focusing on early intervention and providing services so that the burden on costs later is less.”


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