Released from Dysphagia Management Systems, LLC
Today, February 2, 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the first day of business as a mobile endoscopic swallowing instrumentation provider for founder Carol G Winchester, MS SLP CCC. After learning how to perform the Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES), and more than two years of research and development, she began doing business on Feb 2, 1992 as Speech Techniques in Noblesville, Indiana. Carol was the very first SLP in the country to design and develop a mobile model and comprehensive evaluation for providing an on-site dysphagia management diagnostic. As no portable equipment existed, her endoscopy equipment was bulky and filled up the back of her mini-van. Driving all over the State of Indiana performing swallowing instrumentations on patients in nursing homes, the evaluation model morphed into doing business as BEST Dysphagia Management Services, or BEST DMS. The BEST stood for Bedside Endoscopic Swallowing Test, and was developed for the special needs of the nursing home patient. This was the company name that she became nationally known for, from 1994 until 2013. During this time, the company went through several corporate changes, as healthcare changed dramatically during the late 90’s and through the turn of the century, all the while maintaining its founder, Carol, at the helm. As technology improved, her endoscopic equipment shrank from the bulky equipment pieces, to a four-piece cart tower, to a case that is now the size of an airline carry-on. In addition, the business grew from servicing Indiana alone, to offering services in 32 states nationwide. In 2013, Carol took the company through a new corporate model, with Dysphagia Management Systems, or DMS being the new name. While maintaining longtime staff members, customers with 20+ year history, and the quality of services that Ms Winchester is known for, DMS focuses on diagnosing issues with all of the systems involved in swallowing, and provides on-site diagnostics and point of service reporting. With Ms Winchester in charge, DMS is poised to expand its model to include out-patient clinic and home healthcare settings as healthcare continues to evolve.
From Ms Winchester:
Upon reflection, I am in awe that we have been providing services for 25 consecutive years, and honestly cannot imagine doing anything else. I began all of this when my kids were 12,10 and 7, and they have been a part of the process throughout our journey as I grew the company and personally performed more than 10,000 endoscopic evaluations. These companies that I founded have provided me with a mechanism to advocate for patients that cannot advocate for themselves. With the knowledge, technology, and health systems that are in place today, there is no reason that a patient should need to suffer excessively because of lack of dysphagia diagnosis. Having lost family members to the complications of dysphagia, this remains a very personal mission, and keeps me moving forward in this precarious health care environment that can be challenging at times. In a world where customer loyalty can be scarce, I’m very grateful for my customers who have had faith in the services I’ve designed and developed through all of these years. When I started, dysphagia (swallowing disorders) was a new area of concern, so this journey has been one that has constantly evolved as we learn more and more. It is because of my customers’ commitment to good patient care, that the hundreds of thousands of patients we have touched have had fantastic therapists to improve their quality of life. It is because of the very talented endoscopy-trained SLPs that have worked with me, that these patients have the opportunity to feel better after receiving a comprehensive diagnostic instrumentation that is tailored to their specific needs. It is because of the dedicated DMS Office staff that everything works smoothly and that our patients are seen within 3 days on average from referral to service completion. And finally, it is because of my family and friends that I have the support system to do this. Our motto has always been, and remains; “Improving the comfort, care, and quality of life for our patients suffering from dysphagia”. I’m simply speechless that after all these years, I still get to do this every day.