An interview with Maggie Donaker, Speech-Language Pathologist from Transcend on July 24, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
Maggie is a Medical Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in various diagnoses of voice, swallowing, dysarthria, and head & neck cancer. She has served in the hospital setting and, in the community, inpatient/outpatient settings, across the recovery spectrum. Her dedication to her patients and their recovery has earned her recognition from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), receiving 10 ASHA ACE awards in the past 11 years.
Please tell me a little about your background.
As a medical speech-language pathologist for the past 12 years, I have always had a passion for working with and empowering those with Parkinson’s since my graduate school studies. The involvement with awareness continued to foster when becoming certified in LSVT as well as SPEAKOUT! These programs speak about empowering individuals with Parkinson’s, their loved ones, and their medical team about continued care resources.
Can you tell me more about your organization?
My advocacy involves social media education about resources for individuals with Parkinson’s and their families, educational seminars to which I have sought out or have been asked to speak at such as community events (Neuro Challenge and Parkinson’s Place), educating community members at Parkinson’s Place weekly about the importance of self-care and researched based outcomes for a whole-body program. Additionally, encouraging local members who are not aware of local and international programs provides resources for them to take part.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?
My passion is to Empower, Educate, and Elevate outcomes for all the patients to whom I work with. Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure were fostered through how inspiring my patients and community attendees are to the classes I run or presentations they attend.
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s awareness have when working with you?
The goals with individuals with Parkinson’s I work with are to be heard at medical appointments, understand why they are coughing or choking on foods, sustain the progress they have made in individual therapy and understand why consistent practice for the voice and swallow is needed. They come to me for answers within the areas I am skilled in.
What effect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s awareness?
The effect my advocacy on an individual with Parkinson’s is to allow them to have a seat at the table when speaking to their medical team. To foster their knowledge on what can be done for speech and swallowing as it pertains to the progress of the disease and the ways to maintain early in the diagnosis progress. Additionally, the awareness I bring is the knowledge that there is something that can be implemented early to stave off quick decline when it comes to speech and swallowing.
What would you like to see as a future goal for your advocacy?
My future goal is to make a fundraising effort for two of the organizations within my community to foster well-known consistent community awareness of the unique Parkinson’s population here in Sarasota!
What events do you participate in?
The events I participate in are monthly advocacy for attendees to a voice class, year state conventions for speech pathology, maintenance programs for graduates of SPEAK OUT! and LSVT, Quarterly education sessions for new nurses at Kaiser University in Sarasota, Education to local medical professionals about SPEAKOUT! and LSVT programs.
How does this also assist the caregivers?
The advocacy effort assists caregivers with empowering them to know the questions they could ask, what the physician is saying about concerns and knowing what local, or state offerings are for diagnostic evaluations and treatment opportunities.
How can someone get in touch? What is your website?
Facebook: Transcend Speech and Swallowing Solutions, LLC
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson community, what would it be?
Nothing will work unless you do. – Maya Angelou.