Lakemary Pivots to Remote Service Delivery in the Time of COVID-19
Everyday life has been transformed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. School closings, stay-at-home orders, increased handwashing, and social distancing have become the new norm. For hundreds of children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities who are served by Lakemary, the ability to receive vital educational, mental and behavioral health, and social services has been interrupted. Many of these individuals require daily support, making it necessary for Lakemary’s medical staff, therapists, and teachers to adapt their services to be delivered remotely.
For the medical staff at Lakemary, telemedicine is not a new concept. Medical Director Dr. Gray and her team have utilized telemedicine in the past when weather made travel to the clinic unsafe. Since COVID-19 hit, our medical team has had great success conducting telemedicine visits using a secure HIPAA-compliant software system. Both children and adults served by Lakemary have engaged in telemedicine visits in order to receive medication evaluation and treatment of acute medical ailments.
“Telemedicine has been especially vital for the adults we serve who live in various sites both in Miami and Johnson County,” says Dr. Gray. “Transporting them to the clinic for visits would only increase their risk of exposure, so complying with stay-at-home orders and conducting telemedicine visits is the best way we can keep them safe.”
Outpatient therapy is still being provided to the children and adults in our care. Our therapists utilize a secure HIPAA-compliant software system, Zoom, and/or phone calls to work with individuals on coping skills, feelings identification, attachment issues, forming healthy relationships, grief/loss, and other challenges. Therapy sessions occur on a weekly or monthly basis depending on the individual’s needs. Children in the Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) program and living on the Paola campus continue to receive therapy in person with proper precautions in place, and family therapy is conducted via teletherapy.
“Our work has not changed; just the way it is delivered has,” says Jean Hoyt, PRTF Clinical Director and Therapist. “Teletherapy allows our clients to continue their treatment from anywhere while maintaining face-to-face communication with their therapist.”
On March 17, 2020, Governor Laura Kelly issued an executive order to close all Kansas schools for the rest of the academic year. Lakemary School teachers worked quickly to develop virtual lessons so that day students who don’t live with us could continue receiving special education services. These services are provided through an individualized continuous learning plan as specified by their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Curriculum is mailed home weekly for students to work through with their teachers and parents, and check-ins occur via phone, email, Zoom, and, when needed, in-person. Students in the PRTF program and living on the Paola campus continue to receive instruction in the classroom with reduced class size and appropriate staffing.
“We anticipate operating under this model until the Final Phase of the Governor’s plan,” says Principal of Lakemary School. “Once the final phase is lifted, we will work with the day students to return to school for face-to-face instruction.”
The health and safety of all the individuals served throughout our programs and our staff remains our top priority. We will continue working in close partnership with the local and state health departments to gather information about coronavirus and safe business practices. Any new information and updates will be shared on our website and on Facebook.