The coronavirus epidemic has caused many businesses, churches, and even treatment programs to shut down or reduce their services.
However, at Healing House, we are accepting new residents and providing them the support they need to continue on the road to recovery. In the process, we’ve had to almost completely change the way we do business.
By implementing a number of new policies, we’ve ensured the safety of those who look to us for help.
These new measures start with a revamped intake process. Prospective residents apply online via our website. After applications are reviewed, interviews are scheduled and conducted via telehealth.
At the beginning of March, we had just about completed a new gym for our residents. But recently, we switched gears to transform it into a medical observation area where new applicants spend a few days before they move into one of our 12 recovery residences. The goal is to make sure they are not sick or carriers of the virus.
In order to do this, we brought on eight new staff members to provide 24-hour monitoring. Some of those we brought on were long-term residents who had recently lost their jobs due to the citywide lockdown.
New procedures at the recovery homes and the Recovery Community Center are working to keep the people in our programs safe.
Everyone’s temperature is taken daily, along with special precautions instituted for hand washing and use of sanitizer when residents leave and return to their houses. These same precautions are in place when individuals come for services at the Recovery Community Center.
We have staff members stationed at the front door taking temperatures and making sure hand washing, sanitizing and social distancing are practiced.
In our classes and groups, the number of participants is kept to a maximum of ten participants and they are spaced appropriately, 6 feet apart.
We’ve suspended outside visitors until further notice. And all weekend and overnight passes are on hold. We are making extra efforts to do deep cleaning and sanitizing in all of our facilities.
In the event that a resident does contract COVID-19, we have plans in place for isolating them to designated rooms until they recover. We have stored up personal protective equipment for those who may end up working with those who contract the virus.
Once the shelter-in-place order went into place in Kansas City, we immediately suspended all large group meetings. This includes our Friday evening fellowship time that has had over 300 people in attendance each week.
Also shut down is our large shared dining hall. As a result, mealtimes, usually a special time of fellowship at Healing House, have changed dramatically. For every meal, we deliver 130 plates to residents at all 12 of our recovery homes. This has been a huge task and we are grateful to our kitchen workers and other staff members who have been involved in making this all happen.
One of the most important things people in recovery find at Healing House is the fellowship. With large group meetings suspended, live-in staff members are leading meetings with residents in the individual houses.
We are also working to keep the community together by continuing to conduct evening meetings virtually, using apps like Zoom and projecting them to large screen TVs in the residences. With this technology all of our group meetings are happening online: Friday evening Alpha groups, Tuesday’s men’s and women’s support groups, and Sunday’s Healing House community meetings.
Our house managers now have their own laptops, allowing them to communicate digitally and participate in our virtual staff meetings. We’ve also set up extra email lists so we can connect with one another more directly. Counseling and recovery coaching sessions are now being conducted via telehealth.
In the process, we learned that not all of our residences have the Internet and Wi-Fi to handle all of this virtual activity. So we’ve upgrades at all of them and more are coming. This includes installation of a new high-speed Wi-Fi network at our Cornerstone facility, which houses 38 men.
We are providing extra protections to our front line workers in every way. Staff members who are especially vulnerable, including director Bobbi Jo Reed, are working from home.
Healing House has provided supportive housing and recovery support to people with substance use disorders since 2003. We have multiple facilities scattered throughout KC’s Northeast neighborhoods.
By following the practices outlined above, we have not experienced a single case of COVID-19 while continuing to house nearly 200 residents every day.
Our houses have remained full throughout the crisis so far.
Please keep us in prayer as we continue to serve those who need our help the most. Our recovery community consists of nearly 200 program participants. Many are experiencing recovery for the first time. Some of them would be homeless now, especially the many who come from correctional institutions and treatment centers.
Your continued support and prayers are needed so we can stay on the frontlines. Thank you so much!
This post first appeared in Healing House’s April update. Republished with permission.
Editor’s note: This post is part of a blog series that shares the impact of the pandemic on our grantees and community partners. If you would like to share your story, please find out more here.
Read how these community partners have responded to the pandemic: