Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Speech Therapy Program Now Offered at Vail Health Howard Head Sports Medicine

Charlotte and Kent Brittan Donate $1 Million to Launch Program

Vail Health has launched a new Speech Therapy program at Howard Head Sports Medicine (HHSM), the first in Eagle County. The Speech Therapy team consists of Speech Language Pathologists Betty Neal MA, CCC-SLP, and Erin Liegel MA, CCC-SLP, who joined HHSM in November 2021 to evaluate and treat both children and adults with disorders in the areas of speech, language, cognition, voice, and swallowing. The therapists work with the patient and family to create individualized treatment plans to improve one’s ability to communicate, eat and drink safely, or participate in everyday tasks, with the ultimate goal of improving the patient’s quality of life. 

Charlotte and Kent Brittan’s $1 million gift provided the funding to launch the speech therapy program at HHSM. Their generous contribution continues the legacy of Gordon and Thelma Brittan, Kent’s parents, whose long-standing philanthropic support of Vail Health was instrumental in helping form Vail Clinic, now known as Vail Health Hospital.

“My dad understood that Vail needed a real hospital facility where bones broken and tendons torn on the mountain could be healed without driving to Denver. From that point on, he and my mom devoted themselves to helping build that facility. At the outset, they had little idea that eventually people would fly in from all over the world to be treated there,” said Kent. “I wanted to keep the memory of my parents alive because without their ideas, initiative, and hard work, along with all their friends, the hospital would never have been built.”

Kent’s own experiences with a speech disorder inspired their support of the new Speech Therapy program. He and Charlotte hope that their giving will help patients showing early signs of diseases like his own and will provide them with the opportunity to work with the therapists to improve their speech.

“The Brittan family’s investment in Vail Health and their legacy of supporting quality health care has spanned generations, beginning with Gordon and Thelma Brittan,” said Vail Health Foundation President Dan Pennington. “We are grateful for Charlotte and Kent’s giving, which allows us to meet the changing needs of our community.”

The Speech Therapy program was launched in November 2021 and includes evaluation and treatment for services such as:
  • Feeding and swallowing
  • Receptive and expressive language
  • Intelligibility of speech
  • Fluency of speech
  • Cognitive and executive functioning
  • Social skills
  • Vocal quality 
  • Need for Assistive Technology/Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
  • Modified Barium Swallow Studies

Speech Language Pathologists will also provide post-trauma or post-illness services within Vail Health Hospital, such as swallow studies and feeding assessments. They will also support patients' needs following head and neck cancer diagnosis when cancer treatment can impact an individual's ability to communicate or eat.  These outpatient services will be available at the Edwards HHSM.    

In addition to adult services, pediatric speech therapy services are also available at HHSM in Edwards. Local families like the Ramos family are already benefiting from the new Speech Therapy program. 

“Recently, our son was diagnosed with autism, and he’s currently nonverbal,” said Brittany Ramos. “This program is helping him learn communication and functional play, amongst other things, that will help him have a successful transition into school. We are so grateful for the program and all it provides.”

“This gift is providing much-needed specialty care for our community, and we are grateful to have such dedicated and generous benefactors,” said Mary Ellen Broersma, Acting Vice President at Howard Head Sports Medicine.