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.”