Rebuilding America: Our series dives into our community's efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A phased reopening across the state has been underway since Gov. Laura Kelly outlined plans starting on May 4 and continuing into June.


Among the changes, the medical community has been resuming operations in certain capacities that were previously put on hold.


At Western Plains Medical Complex in Dodge City, elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures have resumed with precautions in place.


According to WPMC, the decision to reschedule procedures when clinically appropriate was made in accordance with federal and state guidance and was aimed at helping preserve critical resources in the event of a surge of COVID-19 patients in the community.


"Resuming these important services is an essential component of meeting our community’s health needs and advancing our mission of Making Communities Healthier," said WPMC CEO Scott Smith. "As this work gradually gets underway in our hospital again, we remain committed to conserving critical supplies, being vigilant in our fight against COVID-19, and ensuring that our facility is a safe place for all patients, providers and employees."


As the pandemic continued to be widespread throughout Ford County, WPMC continued to monitor the virus in the community while evaluating supplies and resources, including such personal protective equipment as masks, gowns, gloves and goggles.


A comprehensive assessment during pre-operation will be used before medical procedures taking place. WPMC said it will schedule patients on time-sensitive health needs in partnership with the attending physician/surgeon/proceduralist.


Screenings for COVID-19 will be part of the specific requirements for the procedures, according to WPMC.


For surgeries, WPMC said, patients will need to abide by stay-at-home orders for seven days before the surgery, with twice-daily temperature checks. If a patient has a temperature of over 100 degrees during that time, they will need to contact their provider to test for COVID-19.


WPMC will be contacting patients who had their procedures or surgeries postponed for rescheduling.


During the procedures and surgeries, the no-visitors protocol will continue to be in place.


Throughout May, WPMC also celebrated its nursing staff as part of the American Nurses Association National Nurses Month.


"Our heroic nurses are always on the front lines of caring for the sick and injured," said WPMC chief nursing officer Lisa Wallace. "Their compassion, clinical expertise and servant leadership are fundamental to our ability to provide the high-quality care our patients have come to rely on. I am so proud to celebrate and honor their hard work — and not just during Nurses Month, but year-round. Their impact is an essential part of our mission of Making Communities Healthier."


Genesis Family Health


Genesis Family Health, a nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center in Garden City with satellite clinic facilities in Dodge City, Liberal and Ulysses, set up a helpline for COVID-19 that not only gives COVID-19 information and assistance but also shares resources for food assistance, utility assistance, and assistance finding other resources people need for themselves and their families during this pandemic.


"When people call, they can expect to hear a voice recording that will guide them to the appropriate person within Genesis that is nearest to them and that will be able to assist them best," Genesis Family Health said. "In addition to the helpline, Genesis has also set up an assistance request form on their website.


"The form can easily be found on their main page and serves the same purpose as the helpline. The assistance request form may be filled out on a mobile device or on a computer."


According to Genesis Family Health, the helpline and request form were in response to an increase in requests over the past two months and to ensure there is a dedicated form of communication for those in need to request and receive help as soon as possible.


However, the dental facilities will remain closed until further notice.


The helpline number is 1-855-GFH-AIDE or 1-855-434-2433.


For more information on any other needs, contact Genesis Family Health at 620-275-1766 or visit www.genesisfamilyhealth.org.


Kansas Soldier's Home


Changes were made at the Kansas Soldier's Home in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, Veterans Affairs and the governor’s office.


According to soldier's home superintendent Dave Smith, changes included no group activities, no communal dining, all staff mandated to wear masks, everyone practicing social distancing, proper hand washing and sanitizing, regular deep cleaning of all areas of the facility, and all staff and residents being screened for signs and symptoms on each shift.


"No visitors are allowed on the property, with exceptions for hospice in certain situations," Smith said. "Entry is restricted to employees, medical staff, emergency personnel and essential vendors only.


"Access to the facility is limited to one access point, and all people entering the facility are screened.


"We continue to accept new admissions, with an enhanced screening process prior to and upon admission."


To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com.