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SunPorch administers vaccine, returns visitation

Vincent Marshall
Dodge City Daily Globe
Betty Martinez, SunPorch of Dodge City elder, interacts with her daughter, Esther Bos. SunPorch began allowing limited visitation for its residents.

After halting visitation due to COVID-19 throughout most of 2020, SunPorch of Dodge City has now begun compassionate-care visitation on a limited basis.

The change came as SunPorch staff and residents received the COVID-19 vaccine through Gibson's Pharmacy, according to SunPorch.

“By far, the lack of socialization has been the most difficult part of this pandemic for our elders,” said Debbie Allen, marketing and community liaison at SunPorch. “They haven’t been able to interact in person with family and friends, which has a negative effect on physical and mental well-being.

“In addition, there have been no community trips and fewer activities because we follow social-distancing guidelines. Staff members spend more one-on-one time with elders but we know we are not the same as family. We just want to do everything possible to lift their spirits.”

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, SunPorch has had nine deaths related to COVID-19, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

SunPorch administrators and directors consulted with the Ford County Health Department, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services and Kansas Department of Health and Environment in the lead-up to allowing visitations. 

There will be guidelines in place for the visitations to take place.

Visits will need to be scheduled in advance by contacting Gina or Brianna at 620-227-7512, and visitors will need to arrive 30 minutes in advance to fill out paperwork.

Visitors will be tested at designated curbside parking spots from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays with a 15-minute turnaround, and testing results will be honored for four days.

A copy of the test result will be given and will be reported to the Ford County Health Department, KDHE and National Healthcare Safety Network at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SunPorch said.

There will only be one family member or friend allowed to visit at a time, for up to two hours, and masks will be required at all times.

Visitation will not take place during meal hours, which are from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m.

There will be a limit of 10 visitors inside at a time in the entire residence, which includes vendors.

“Our processes are working well,” Allen said. “Residents are thrilled with the opportunity to see their loved ones in person. It is wonderful to see the pure joy on their faces.”

Social media interactions will still be available.

“Some people aren’t traveling as much as usual and these virtual visits work well,” Allen said.

Such health protocols as deep cleaning, social distancing, masks and hand-washing will remain in place.

“These are the protocols that led to zero deficiencies during three state COVID-related, on-site surveys,” she said. “All of us have been diligent in adhering to all guidelines and we will continue with the protocols for as long as necessary.”

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