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WSU’s Community Engagement Institute Partners with Kansas Organizations to Respond to COVID-19.

COVID-19 has created challenges for everyone, but that hasn’t stopped WSU’s Community Engagement Institute (CEI) staff from partnering with Kansas organizations and communities as they respond to COVID-19. Below are a few examples of how these Shockers are making a difference…

Jaime Gilliland (CEI’s Center for Applied Research and Evaluation) and Jessica Fiscus (CEI’s Center for Public Health) are supporting the Kansas Health Institute as they collect information on Kansas county reopen plans. The state plan provides the regulatory baseline for counties; counties are allowed to add additional measures for the health and safety of their county. CEI staff assist with tracking which counties have additional measures and the types of measures (e.g., food service, playgrounds, retail/sales activities). Information will continue to be updated throughout each phase of the state plan to help community leaders make informed decisions. Additional information can be found on KHI’s website: https://www.khi.org/announcements/article/20-25.

LeeAnne Mullen (CEI’s Center for Behavioral Health) is facilitating Zoom calls with twenty directors of Consumer Run Organizations (CROs) across Kansas. Lead by adult mental health consumers, CROs provide peer support and services to mental health consumers often in evening hours when traditional mental health services are not available. While the pandemic caused CROs’ physical locations to close, through facilitated Zoom calls, CRO directors discuss creative ways to support their local members that are facing increased isolation. CRO directors also develop plans for connecting members to food resources, support for utilities and rent, vital prescriptions, and other necessities.

Within a matter of days after Kansas schools and daycare providers closed, Lynn Schrepferman, PhD and Jason Vandercreek (CEI’s Center for Applied Research & Evaluation) led a CEI team to create a website for the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund to provide families of young children with educational activities (https://parentresourcesks.org). The website has received hundreds of visits as it is designed to be used by parents and early childhood programs who serve families. For families who are not able to access the resources themselves there are printable activities that can be dropped off or mailed.

Joyce McEwen Crane, PhD (CEI’s Center for Organizational Development & Collaboration) worked with a CEI team to support the Kansas Health Foundation in developing and distributing a mini-grant program to 18 Kansas communities, focusing on resident-led ideas and solutions to help address COVID-19. Grants supported efforts such as rent and utility assistance, access to healthy meals, technology for accessing telemedicine appointments, interpretation services and childcare.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is addressing the current pandemic in several ways, including providing a COVID-19 resource center and supporting local health departments as they address the pandemic. A CEI team is partnering with KDHE to research and craft the guidance provided to the public, as well as supporting the KDHE COVID-19 hotline. They are working with the Sedgwick County Health Department to provide surge capacity for disease investigation and contact tracing, contacting residents who have potentially been exposed to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.

CEI is committed to supporting Kansas communities through this time of uncertainty. To stay up to date on the work CEI is doing, follow us on Facebook. If you have questions or comments, contact Scott Wituk, PhD at scott.wituk@wichita.edu.