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Health-care specialists provide in-house care for Cherry Village residents
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Cherry Village resident, Marian Corke, undergoes an on-site audiology test at the long-term-care facility. Audiology Technician Annie Welch, left, and Audiologist Rick Deines perform the exam. A new Cherry Village program provides in-house health-care services. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

               Pam Lewis is breathing a sigh of relief because she found another way to make life easier for residents at Cherry Village Benevolence, 1401 Cherry Lane.

            As administrator of the non-profit, long-term-care facility, Lewis decided to be part of a new program that brings health-care specialists to Cherry Village. The result is grateful residents who now have easy access to dental, vision, podiatry and audiology care.

            The residents’ families also appreciate it, Lewis said.

            “It is sometimes difficult for our residents to go to doctors’ offices,” Lewis explained. “They are often nervous when they have to go to unfamiliar environments.

“In addition,” she noted, “some doctors’ offices are in older buildings with narrow hallways that don’t always accommodate wheelchairs very well. This new program reduces anxiety for everyone.”

            The program went into effect a few weeks ago after an account manager of Special Care Management paid a visit to Cherry Village. Katie Gilkey, who is based in Hutchinson, explained the insurance-program services to residents and families, both as a group and individually.

            “Katie and her colleague explained the details and people started signing up right away,” Lewis recalled. “About half the families that were here were interested on day one. And the interest is growing.”

            Residents can sign up for any of the services they want. If a person relies on KanCare, there is no additional cost to participate. Premiums are affordable to those in other situations, Lewis said.

            The specialists are licensed professionals who spend a day or two a month providing outreach services in the area. They bring their own equipment and other resources.

            “It is amazing to watch the dentist set up his equipment,” Lewis commented. “He has a large container that opens and there is a dentist’s office at his fingertips. This could be a modern version of a doctor’s little black bag.”

 The portable equipment is set up in Cherry Village’s in-house beauty shop, which has natural and artificial light. It also is equipped with electricity, water and the proper flooring.

“It is the perfect venue,” Lewis said.

 If concerns arise during a visit, patients are referred to their own doctors or specialists.

For example, the dentist can fill a cavity at Cherry Village but a root canal would be referred elsewhere. And the insurance policy travels with the patient. Wherever a procedure is performed, Special Care insurance can be used.

Gilkey, the company’s local representative, said she is “very impressed” with Cherry Village and its staff.

“There are some facilities where you can just feel the tension, but Cherry Village is not one of those facilities,” Gilkey said. “I didn’t hear one complaint – not one - which tells me everything about the staff here. This is a breath of fresh air for me.

“And every family I talked to was happy to hear about our Special Care services,” she added.

Gilkey noted that the dentist will be the most frequent visitor and eye exams will be scheduled every six months. The podiatrist and audiologist also will be at Cherry Village regularly.

She added that behavioral services will be offered in about a year. A pilot behavioral program is in progress in Kentucky, Special Care’s home base.

            Cherry Village is managed by a local family.