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Healthcare Heroes

Monday, January 16th, 2017 3:32:04 PM

by Danial McCoy, Wichita Business Journal

Letter after letter, the compliments and praise keep pouring in.  “Thank you for the continual love and support you gave to him and to us… for making the last chapter still a quality chapter.”

“I felt secure with the knowledge that my dad was treated with dignity, caring and concern.”

“Our greatest comfort is knowing that when we are not there that she still gets hugs from her caregivers.  We will always be grateful.”

Those are all letters from family members of people with Alzheimer’s and other memory problems, thanking ComfortCare Homes for the care they provided.

In 1993, founders Charles and Mary Lou Stark pioneered the first local residential care home for people with Alzheimer’s, recognizing what they believed was a need for a different model of care.

It was a lesson borne out of their own experiences with Charles’ mother, Reola Stark.

And working with daughter, Leigh Anne and son Doug, they created a model where residents weren’t cared for in a nursing home.  They were in a real home.

ComfortCare operates single-family residential homes designed to provide long-term care for up to six residents in each home.

The residents often have Alzheimer’s, or some other form of memory impairment, and can no longer live at home.

“These environments are not ‘home-like,’ they are real homes,” says the company’s vice president of development, Robert Miller.  “These are places where families raised their child and were our residents live out the rest of their lives, just as Charles and Mary Lou envisioned.”

“‘Different’ quickly became ‘better,'” says company president Doug Stark.

Today, ComfortCare operates eight properties in Wichita and serves nearly 75 residents.

It has also evolved its care to deal with the advancing physical and emotional challenges presented by dementia.

But the growth hasn’t ever changed the core mission of a real home for people with Alzheimer’s

And that is what made the difference in so many lives, and it has kept the thanks of their family members coming in year after year.

“I am so proud of the persistence and vision my parents had to try and do something different for those we love in our community,” Doug Stark says.

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