We are working to protect against COVID-19

The health of the people we serve at Starkey and of our employees is of utmost importance to us. Every day, we learn more about the latest strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, that can cause serious illness in people who have compromised immune systems. We are working to prevent exposure by persons at Starkey, especially those with existing health conditions that make them more vulnerable. We are following the recommendations of both the Centers for Disease Control and the Sedgwick County Health Department. We will provide frequent updates on this page.

July 2, 2020

Starkey’s reopening plan will take a step back on Monday, July 6, when all day programs will again originate from our residential locations. We will continue to evaluate information from the virus experts to determine when we may be able to move forward on our reopening plan again. We will be providing services from homes for at least the next two weeks. 

We will not be returning to a no-visitors policy at this point, but we will expect visitors to wear masks, maintain distance, let us take their temperatures and generally work with us to help keep people safe.

This change in our plan is happening with the goal of keeping people safe. Until the numbers indicate that the risk of exposure is going down, it simply does not make sense to continue with our plan to offer typical day programs.

June 2, 2020

Individuals will return to Starkey’s day programs in three phases during the month of June. Each phase will incorporate the proper safety protocols, including masks, physical distancing, appropriately spaced tables, plexiglass barriers, personal hygiene and frequent deep cleaning of program areas. Parents and guardians will be contacted individually when their person is expected to return to day programs or employment. For a copy of the timeline, link here.

May 19, 2020

Our proposed reopening plan takes a first step toward reopening day programs on June 8. At that time only a few targeted individuals and support staff will return to day programs. This will allow us to put the proper safeguards in place and monitor the health of everyone involved. We must align our plan with the governor’s reopening plan and also receive approval to proceed from the CDDO. The plan indicates that additional people will return to day programs as we make our way through the month of June.

Our reopening plan contains three phases over a period of weeks. Parents and guardians of persons served will be notified when their person is part of a group returning to day programs in the next phase.

May 1, 2020

Governor Kelly has outlined her plan for slowly reopening our state in three phases between now and mid-June (details available at covid.ks.gov). The first phase, which will last until at least May 18, will continue many of the safeguards that have existed for the past six weeks.

Based on her new guidance, services at Starkey won’t change for at least two more weeks. Physical distance and masks will still be the expectation to keep everyone safe. As much as we might like to loosen our restrictions on visitors at our homes at this point, we concur with the caution that Governor Kelly referenced last night on that topic.

We will watch to see how a very limited reopening of our city and state impacts the number of COVID-19 cases. What we learn and observe will tell us whether we can start taking progressive steps back toward more typical services later in May.

April 21, 2020

We have received a number of questions about when our day programs will start to return to “normal.” There is obviously no precise answer to that question, because we will continue to follow the guidance of our local and state authorities concerning required and recommended action to keep everyone safe. We anticipate that there will be a delay between the time Governor Kelly lifts the stay-at-home order and when we will begin to reopen our day programs. When we do, our focus will include efforts to decrease the number of people in a shared space and increase the distance between them.

April 7, 2020

All employees in direct care positions now have masks for protection in their daily work. Employees are required to monitor their temperature before every shift and to stay home if they are feeling ill and report any symptoms to supervisors. Individuals served by Starkey are having their temperatures monitored daily, as well. Prevention protocols include frequent hand washing and cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.

March 31, 2020

We know this is truly a challenging time for families as we try to maintain the safest possible environment for the persons served at Starkey. We are in this together, and we are in an ongoing process of obtaining additional supplies that will make our daily work easier.

Masks are perhaps the most talked-about pieces of personal protective equipment, and they have been very hard to find in recent weeks. Our supply consists both of typical disposable medical masks and the cloth ones being made by community volunteers. Since the COVID-19 virus is now being spread in Wichita and surrounding communities, we will implement a plan to provide masks to employees who provide close personal care to persons we serve in some homes where some or all of the residents have ongoing health conditions that place them at greater risk. This is our first priority group at this time. We are continuously monitoring information provided by KDHE and CDC to help us adapt to this ever-changing situation, and we will take progressive steps with additional masks if doing so is recommended by the experts to help reduce the chances of transmission. A note of special thanks to all of our volunteers, including family members of employees, who have been helping make or acquire masks since last week.

While masks may be helpful in some situations, we continue to hear that the very best way to reduce the chances of transmission is to wash our hands frequently and thoroughly, cough into our shirts, maintain a generous distance from others (at least six feet) and be aware if the places we go and people we interact with put us at a higher risk of becoming infected. Starkey employees have been asked to monitor their temperatures each day before they report to their shift. They have also been asked to take and record the temperature of all persons served in our care daily, and are closely monitoring any illness symptoms.  It is up to all of us to take the necessary actions that will keep us safe and make sure as few people as possible become ill from this virus.

March 30, 2020

Yesterday, Governor Laura Kelly issued a statewide stay-at-home order that begins today. Last week, public health officer Dr. Garold Minns signed the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners’ recommendation for a stay-at-home order for Sedgwick County. So, it appears that the action steps many of us expected to respond to the spread of the virus are now taking place. Starkey decided to move a little more quickly by isolating some of our homes on March 16 and the rest of them on March 23.

For most of our employees, work will continue as usual, although perhaps in new locations. Since we will continue to be responsible for meeting the needs of persons we serve throughout this situation, Starkey is an essential business. We will work to reduce our interaction with the rest of the community to the extent possible. The key to being successful is the expectation that all of us will avoid contact with people outside our own households. Our efforts to isolate people will be most successful if we take necessary precautions both at work and when we are not at work.

Some Starkey employees will be allowed to telework, if their jobs can be done effectively from home. We are offering that option on a case-by-case basis. For the majority of our employees, however, their work requires them to be here in person every day.

March 19, 2020

Beginning Monday, March 23, any individual who lives in a Starkey home or apartment will receive day services at his or her home. We will provide day services to those individuals only at their Starkey home or apartment.

For people who come to Starkey day programs but who live at home with family or in a home operated by another organization, those day program services on Starkey’s main campus will no longer be available beginning Monday, March 30. Other than day services provided at a Starkey home or apartment, we will discontinue our typical day programs starting March 30.

We intend for all of these changes to be temporary, but we do not yet know what additional guidance will come to us from local, state and federal health authorities regarding the transmission of COVID-19 in our community and the length of time we need to keep people in protected locations. We will monitor the situation closely and determine when we can safely return to our traditional model of day programs, and we will communicate with you regularly.

Another important change is that visitors will no longer be allowed at Starkey’s main buildings or program locations, including homes and apartments. Only employees providing the programs and essential medical staff will be allowed to visit these locations, including end-of-life care offered by hospice providers. We know that for parents and guardians, this will be a difficult time. It is our hope that the change will be very temporary, and that it will keep everyone healthy.

We have technology in place so that essential meetings, assessments and therapy sessions can be conducted online and by phone. Persons served, parents, guardians and employees will all be given the information they need to make this happen. We will assist in this process, as it may be unfamiliar to some. We coordinate health care for some individuals and will continue to transport them to appointments or to have lab work completed until doctor’s offices tell us otherwise.