HARRISONBURG — The after-school scene at The Speech and Language Center is the best view operations manager Chris Nalberczinski gets.
“This place is slammed. The parking lot is full and it’s standing-room only in the waiting room,” said Nalberczinski, whose wife, Lora Nalberczinski, is the center’s owner and director. “It’s chaos … but it’s cool at the same time. It’s parents that are here because they care about their kids.”
And it’s about to get even more chaotic and “cooler” for the Port Republic Road center.
The Virginia Department of Health informed the business last week that it could accept Medicaid recipients, which will open it to dozens of children in the area in need, officials said.
The center provides speech, occupational and physical therapy, plus autism consulting services, for children. Some come from as far away as Lexington and West Virginia.
The center has about 150 clients now — most of whom are children, though adults are seen, too — and expects to add anywhere from 50 to 100 more with Medicaid coverage, said Lora Nalberczinski.
“[People] have been coming to us asking if we take Medicaid,” said Chris Nalberczinski. “Up until Friday, the answer had to be ‘no.’ We’ve had to turn away a lot of people.”
The center, which has been open seven years, is the only local facility that offers the variety of services for children, Lora Nalberczinski said. Its staff of 10 gets clients through referrals from pediatricians and schools.
The facility has several rooms, a small gym and kitchenette area to serve clients depending on their needs. Some come because they have congenital conditions, while others may need recovery from a head injury or broken bone.
Broadway resident Sonia Hose brings her twin autistic 15-year-old sons Trevor and Tylor for weekly speech therapy sessions. Hose home-schools them, so one disadvantage there is that she doesn’t have access to public school speech specialists.
“When you home-school them, you have to venture out to find people. It’s not at your fingertips,” she said. “They’ve definitely improved. Speech [therapy] is needed when you have any child with autism.”
While Hose is not a Medicaid recipient, parents of some current clients could benefit from the center’s expanded coverage, Lora Nalberczinski said. Some families are covered by Medicaid and another insurance provider, for example.
A New Jersey native, Lora Nalberczinski attended James Madison University, where she met her husband. They wanted to settle down in the area, and as she worked in Rockingham County Public Schools she saw the need for more speech services for area children.
Seven years later, the need is still there — and the center is ready to find the need even more through the Medicaid coverage.
“We don’t know an exact number,” Chris Nalberczinski said, “but it’s going to be significant.”
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org