FHSU University Relations and Marketing
HAYS, Kan. – The Kansas Masonic Foundation announced a gift of $250,000 to Fort Hays State University in a news conference earlier today. The gift, spread over five years, will support adult speech, language and hearing services at the Herndon Clinic on the university’s campus.
“On behalf of the Grand Lodge of Kansas, our 225 statewide lodges, and 18,000 Kansas Masons, it is with great pride that we reaffirm our financial commitment and support to Fort Hays State University’s Adult Speech, Language and Hearing Services programs,” said Cole Presley, deputy grand master of the Masons in Kansas.
“The opportunity to help older adults in western Kansas and ensure they receive important screening is extremely important to us and our ongoing pledge to help Kansans and Kansas communities. As Masons, we hope that this will be the beginning of a long-term commitment to FHSU,” he said.
“Fort Hays State is grateful for this renewed partnership with the Kansas Masonic Foundation,” said Tim Chapman, president and CEO of the FHSU Foundation. “The work of the Herndon Clinic is invaluable to our campus community, and being able to offer those services to a larger segment of Western Kansas, specifically the aging population that is generally underserved, is not only beneficial for those clients, but offers our students practical, hands-on experience as well.”
The support will provide numerous opportunities for older adults in western Kansas to receive important health screening services that are currently scarce or difficult to access. Expanding adult services provided by the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Herndon Clinic will include enhanced training and services related to dysphagia (swallowing difficulty) and hearing screenings provided in FHSU’s western Kansas service area.
Dysphagia is a growing health concern among the aging population and a common secondary disorder associated with dementia and stroke. Additionally, loss of hearing associated with aging affects approximately 30 percent of adults age 65 years and older and approximately half of the population over age 75.
With funding secured through the KMF, all speech-language pathology students in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders will be exposed to classroom training in fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES), while 75 percent of students will gain FEES experience in a clinical setting prior to their externship.
“We have had a long history of support from the Kansas Masonic Foundation, allowing us to provide improved access to speech, language and audiological services throughout our service area,” said Dr. Jeff Briggs, dean of the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences at FHSU.
“This partnership will result in enhanced clinical experiences for our students, expanded services for the clients served through the clinic, and opportunities for outreach to the communities we serve, with a focus on older adults in western Kansas.”
Three external partnerships for FEES services will be established in the first year. The funding also provides for hearing screenings to be conducted at six unique off-campus sites per year which will allow opportunities for all students to participate in clinical hearing screenings for older adults.
“On behalf of all Kansas Masons, throughout the past 50 years, the Kansas Masonic Foundation has supported many worthwhile endeavors throughout the state,” said Lincoln L. Wilson Jr., a trustee of the Kansas Masonic Foundation.
“While it has been a few years since our last financial commitment and support to Fort Hays State University, we want FHSU as a key partner in delivering the services we as Masons feel are important for the future,” he said. “This commitment to the Geneva Herndon Speech-Language Pathology Clinic has a profound impact on lives, not only in the western part of the state but for all Kansans and Kansas communities.”
“We are excited about the expansion of the training experiences that we will now have available to our graduate students.” said Dr. Jayne Brandel, chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
“Not only does this gift improve the graduate clinical training experience for our students, but it provides access to needed healthcare for western Kansas residents,” she said.
“It really is no coincidence that the Masons are coming back home to Fort Hays State University because their mission dovetails with the mission of Fort Hays State University just beautifully,” said FHSU President Mirta M. Martin.
It is part of the pioneer work ethic and the sense of people who think of others before themselves and of families that embrace each other in times of trouble. “So it makes sense for you all to come back home,” she said.
She related a personal story of an accident that left her daughter with a broken back. At hospitals supported by the Masons, her family found help and hope.
“That’s what we do here at the Herndon Clinic; that’s what we do here at Fort Hays State University. We are that beacon of hope for people who at times don’t know where to go.”