SunPorch to begin phased-in reopening

Vincent Marshall
Nadine Musseman, SunPorch of Dodge City elder, is finally able to share some time with her daughter, Dee Dee Knapp, and granddaughter, Jaden Knapp.

SunPorch of Dodge City, located at 501 W. Beeson Road, will begin reopening phases, albeit in small increments.

Through advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SunPorch staff will offer recommendations about social distancing, hand washing and other measures of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“We made the calculated decision to use a multi-phase approach to lifting the visitation restrictions that began March 12,” said SunPorch administrator Ryan Salinas in a news release. “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.”

According to Salinas, SunPorch has adhered to procedures in recent months that led to zero deficiencies during an on-site state survey that focused on COVID-19.

“Our policies may seem strict but they are necessary for this first phase to be successful,” Salinas said. “While practicing these protocols during this difficult time, we did not have one resident test positive for the virus.”

After collaborating with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, Ford County Health Department, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, SunPorch’s medical director, Dr. Andrew Schowengerdt and director of nursing services Tosha Fields, the decision to begin with Phase 1 came about to institute procedures for in-person visits.

Among those procedures will be the allowing of no more than two family members visiting an elder at one time with visits scheduled in advance.

“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. 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.”

SunPorch will continue to offer window visits as well as online visits through Skype, FaceTime and other services.

Less restrictive procedures will be considered in the coming weeks if situations continue to improve.

“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.”

According to Allen, community members made face masks and isolation gowns, sent gift cards to staff and provided photos and handmade cards for elders.

A major reopening that had an immediate effect on residents was that of the hair salon.

"It was to the delight of everyone who needed a trim or perm. Many elders were lining up outside the door to get in,” Allen said. "The hairdresser went above and beyond in providing her services quickly and professionally."

Allen added that 4-H club members brought flowers that were set up around the residences, and local Girl Scout troops brought cookies.

“Nothing like beautiful flowers to make each day more enjoyable," Allen said. “There are so many people that have meant so much to us. Everyone who helped in any way has our heartfelt appreciation.”

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