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Kenwood Plaza locks down for resident safety

Gale Rose
LaDonna Llamas takes a selfie with her grandmother Peggy Thompson who is a resident of Kenwood Plaza in St. John. Because of the coronavirus, care facilities like Kenwood Plaza have gone on lock down and no face to face visits are allowed so phones have been made available for family to visit with their relative through windows.

In an effort to protect the nations most vulnerable group against the coronavirus as it spreads across the country, care facilities have taken extra measures, including eliminating visits, to protect the residents and staff of these facilities.

Misty Newell, executive director of Kenwood Plaza in St. John, an Assisted Living and Residential Health Care facility, said the facility was on a lock down status. That means no visitors and residents are not to leave the facility unless it’s an emergency. Even doctors appointments have been cancelled unless they are absolutely necessary, Newell said.

Vital signs are checked on residents twice a day. If a family member has a health issue, one had a transplant, they are told to stay home.

Kenwood, like all other facilities, are depending heavily on their staff to handle the crisis pretty much on their own.

“You just pray you have the tools and information. You pray that’s enough,” Newell said. “We are very fortunate to have this amazing staff and amazing team members.”

Overall, the mood is good. The residents don’t know whats going to happen the next day so they look to the department heads.

“Everybody is a little scared, not knowing what is going to happen,” Newell said. “You can panic or you can say its out of our control and pray for the best. I truly feel like that’s all you can do in this situation.”

It’s important to keep a positive attitude. The residents remember the Dirty Thirties and they made it through.

To help residents and their family members get through this crisis, Kenwood has established a policy of providing a cordless phone to the residents for privacy and letting the family member or guest visit with the resident through the window.

As part of the lockdown, staff members are asked to come to work and go home and shop local. If a staff member has to go out of town, Kenwood now has a tracking record to help speed the process if someone should test positive. If a staff member goes out of state, they have to check with the Stafford County health department before they can come back to work.

Kenwood is also revamping their identity badges to include photographs so in the event the facility has to be shut down, the photo IDs will help get the staff members back to work.

Newell said she believes the virus will eventually be everywhere and that it is not a matter if but when it happens and keeping track of movements can help lower risks.

Every time a staff member or work provider comes to work, full vital signs are taken. Bleach has been added to all cleaning products because it is the only over the counter product that can product that can cut or kill the virus.

So far, the staff has all the supplies it needs. If a staff member gets sick, they are to stay home.

Residents are constantly reminded of safe health practices like coughing into an elbow and wash hands and arms up to the elbow for 20 to 30 seconds.

Kenwood provides meals on wheels for the community. The staff prepares the meals then drivers come to back door for pickup and delivery. They do not enter the building.

While food supplies are running thin in the grocery stores, it has not been an issue so far at Kenwood. The food truck delivers on Thursday and Newell said she contacts them to find out if there will be a shortage of anything.

Anytime maintenance has to come in the building, they have to go through the vital signs check just like the staff.

Newell said they closely monitor the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Center for Disease control.

Combating COVID-19 is complicated. The virus has broken off into two strains, “S” and “L” making it hard to come up with an injection.

Things are changing so rapidly that Newell has been altering policies continuously for two weeks to keep the residents and staff safe.