Moving the HME Industry Forward

Manufacturer/Provider

I Am the HME Industry – Q&A with Lonny Weiner

August 19, 2013

PRINCETON, NJ – The list of “suppliers of ancillary products and services” is included in every AAHomecare communication, but who are these companies? Who are the people who run them?

One such company is Lingraphicare America Inc, and Lonny Weiner, sales support manager for the Princeton, NJ-based company has a story to tell about a communication disorder called aphasia—and the equipment that sufferers must use. One thing is certain, the devices used are anything but standard DME.

Medtrade Monday: What is Lingraphica’s mission?
Weiner: Lingraphica is dedicated to helping people with aphasia and verbal apraxia communicate and re-connect with their communities. Unfortunately, not many people know what aphasia is.

Aphasia is a communication disorder typically brought on by a stroke or brain injury that affects a person’s ability to process and use language. Our mission is to use technology—speech-generating devices (SGD) and communication and therapy apps—that help these people improve their communication, as well as their natural speaking ability. Knowing that I contribute to improving the lives of these people is what makes my job so fulfilling.

Medtrade Monday: What is the toughest part of the job these days?
Weiner: The lack of understanding from CMS about how SGDs are different than standard DME, like wheelchairs and walkers. This lack of understanding results in new regulations put forth by CMS that are potentially harmful to beneficiaries (such as the new face-to-face requirement for DME and the current attempt to reclassify SGDs as a capped rental item).

To illustrate my point, when a patient returns a wheelchair to a supplier when entering a facility, they do so knowing the facility will provide one for them. The same is not true of someone who relies on an SGD to navigate daily life.

If a patient returns a SGD to the supplier when entering a facility, that patient has just surrendered his ability to communicate at a time when communication is critical. Can you imagine being robbed of your ability to communicate once by illness, only to have it taken from you again because of an uninformed regulation? This is my challenge; to make known the unique needs of people with aphasia.

Medtrade Monday: Can you provide an example of a particularly rewarding moment on the job?
Weiner: A speech-language pathologist (SLP) was conducting a therapy session on a patient in the hospital when the nurse came in to check on him. She asked him how he was feeling and he made a face. The SLP had one of our devices and she prompted the patient to use it to communicate what was wrong.

Together they found the “pain scale” page and he touched the “slight pain” icon. She asked him what was hurting him. They went into the “symptoms” page and he touched the icon for “headache.” She said that he was so happy with himself that he had a huge smile on his face for the rest of their session. Communication, and the ability to express oneself, is the essence of being human. This is what our SGDs and apps enable for people with aphasia.

Medtrade Monday: What do you do when you’re not working?  
Weiner: I am a USA Hockey level four certified coach. I have enjoyed being the head coach of an adult women’s hockey team that has competed four times at the national championship level.

My wife, Jennifer, and I are the parents of what we affectionately call Hurricane Weiner, also known as three boys, Jacob, Noah, and Sam—and a precocious dog named Scout.

Medtrade Monday: What are your plans for the future?
Weiner: Lingraphicare America is a mission-driven company. Our purpose is to help reconnect people who have lost the ability to speak and to help them communicate with the world around them. To that end, we are always pushing the envelope to develop solutions that bridge the gap created by stroke or brain injury.