While SunPorch of Dodge City is still adhering to strict COVID-19 guidelines, it has taken its first baby step to reopening, said Administrator Ryan Salinas.
SunPorch is the short-term rehab and long-term-care residence at 501 W. Beeson Rd.
“We made the calculated decision to use a multi-phase approach to lifting the visitation restrictions that began March 12,” Salinas said. “The screening of families, clergy and vendors entails the same protocols we have been using since that date.
“Our nurses are asking the same questions, and taking temperatures and oxygen-saturation levels. We also provide education about the masks we provide visitors.”
In addition, SunPorch staff members offer recommendations about social distancing, handwashing and other methods of preventing the spread of COVID-19. This advice comes from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
Adhering to these procedures in recent months led to zero deficiencies during an on-site state survey that focused on COVID-19, Salinas noted.
“Our policies may seem strict but they are necessary for this first phase to be successful,” Salinas noted. “While practicing these protocols during this difficult time, we did not have one resident test positive for the virus.”
The decision to begin with phase one came after collaboration with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, Ford County Health Department, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and SunPorch’s medical director, Dr. Andrew Schowengerdt.
Tosha Fields, RN and director of nursing services, also played “a vital role” in crafting procedures for in-person visits, Salinas noted.
One current restriction is that no more than two family members may visit an elder at one time; they must schedule these visits.
“One big factor behind this phased-in reopening is we all need that human connection,” Salinas said. “We do our very best but we know we cannot replace their loved ones.
“Some elders are in varying stages of dementia,” Salinas added. “When they can’t see their families, it really affects their emotional outlook and can lead to feelings of isolation. Providing a high quality of life in whatever way we can is very important to us. In fact, one of our precepts is to help older people have a better rest of their life.”
Salinas also noted that families support the decision to slowly reopen. However, SunPorch still offers visits at the window, and by Skype, Facetime and other services.
If all goes well, less restrictive procedures will be considered in a few weeks.
Debbie Allen, SunPorch marketing & community liaison, emphasized that the community has played a big role in recent successes.
“We could not have made it through this difficult time without the dedication and support of our community,” Allen said. “It has been absolutely amazing.”
People have made facemasks and isolation gowns; sent gift cards to staff for their extra efforts;
The hair salon reopened “to the delight of everyone who needed a trim or perm. Many elders were lining up outside the door to get in,” Allen laughed.
She noted the hairdresser went above and beyond in providing her services quickly and professionally.
“A local 4-H club brought flowers and planted them around our residence,” Allen commented. “Nothing like beautiful flowers to make each day more enjoyable. And Girl Scouts brought their cookies from all the troops in the Dodge City area.”
“There are so many people that have meant so much to us. Everyone who helped in any way has our heartfelt appreciation.”
By Judd Weil/Dodge City Daily Globe
Posted May 6, 2020 at 1:38 PM
An on-site survey conducted by the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, at SunPorch of Dodge City revealed to staff that the confidence had in their routine COVID-19 prevention procedures, was not misplaced.
“Everyone in every department is responsible for maintaining the infection-control guidelines,” said Tosha Fields, RN, director of nursing services. “These guidelines are the processes we use to attempt to break the cycle of infection and prevent transmission from one person to another.”
Staff was subjected to state surveyors’ observations of basic care services and other measures including, screening processes, personal protective equipment procedures, hand hygiene, and all processes pertaining to dining and other activities.
Due to COVID-19, SunPorch shifted visitation procedures, making them only by phone, and other services, such Facetime and Skype. This extends to tele-conferences with physicians, at the long-term-care residence.
Before entering the building, everyone is screened at the front door and required to answer a questionnaire. Masks are also mandatory throughout the duration of all shifts, and temperatures and oxygenation levels are routinely recorded.
“We also have turbo-boosted our cleaning and disinfection schedules,” Fields said. “In addition, we are providing further in-service training regarding infection control and hand hygiene.
“We are so proud of all our team members. They are working hard to care for our elders and are extremely diligent about the processes we have in place.”
SunPorch administrator Ryan Salinas added, “Keeping our elders safe is always first and foremost in our minds. We have adapted to this new era of COVID-19 by enhancing our infection-prevention processes to keep up with the ever-changing requirements.
“Having state surveyors notice our efforts is similar to studying hard for that really tough exam and getting an A-plus.”
During this season of sharing and giving thanks, SunPorch of Dodge City is especially grateful to the community for its support and trust, said Debbie Allen, marketing and community liaison.
The long-term-care residence has reached 100 percent of its capacity, and for the first time, it has a waiting list.
It was just a little over two years ago that the location’s name was changed to SunPorch, under the management of GraceTeam.
“When the changes were made in October 2017, we had 32 residents with an 83-person capacity,” Allen recalled. “Now, because semi-private rooms have been converted to private rooms, we are full with 45 elders in 45 rooms.
“This success can be directly attributed to the great care our elders receive from our nurses and other dedicated staff members. It demonstrates we give the highest quality care with compassion and professionalism.”
Since the arrival of SunPorch, the philosophy of choice is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, Allen noted.
“Each resident has options in day-to-day living,” she said. “Elders decide what they want to eat, when to go to bed at night and when to get up in the morning. They also choose how they socialize with their peers and families. These are just some examples of how SunPorch cares for the individual.”
In addition, Aegis Therapies offers “superior therapists who work hard to keep our elders in good physical condition,” Allen said. “They strive to encourage their patients to reach their full potential with individualized care and treatment.”
Aegis offers physical, occupational and speech therapies on-site.
While SunPorch staff members appreciate the new management team, they also are “extremely grateful to the community for placing so much trust in us,” Allen emphasized. “It is our blessing to care for families and their loved ones.
“SunPorch has developed many strong partnerships in Dodge City and the surrounding area. We couldn’t be more grateful for this teamwork,” she added. “These partnerships serve community needs and the needs of our elders.”
Ryan Salinas, SunPorch administrator, said the entire team continues to grow by learning new skills and finding innovative ways to make life easier for elders.
“Over the past couple of years, we have gained new insight and knowledge in caring for elders,” Salinas said. “We tailor all our services to the individual needs of elders and their families. SunPorch is here to help our elders have a better rest of their life.”
Salinas also noted that Allen has played a key role in the success of SunPorch.
“Debbie engages with the community, listens to concerns and answers questions,” Salinas said. “She demonstrates her genuine concern for elders every day and excels at getting our message out to the community through the media and public events.”
Velma Ferguson, SunPorch of Dodge City elder, is surrounded by family members at the long-term-care residence’s Thanksgiving Dinner as a surprise for her 88th birthday. More than 100 elders, family members and staff attended the event.