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Published: July 7, 2020
Pandemic Prep: Behind the Scenes at The IC

Tim Mann, front desk specialist, posing for the camera

What do you do when life as you know it comes to a screeching halt? You take a cue from what people with disabilities haveTim Mann, front desk specialist, posing for the camera always done – adapt and overcome!

When the COVID-19 pandemic really started to take hold, The Independence Center (The IC) knew that we needed to take the advice we have been giving to our consumers for years. We needed to do some emergency prep. Well before Governor Polis’ Stay-at-Home Order was issued, The IC’s leadership team began laying the groundwork for our “new normal.” The priorities were clear: Keep staff and consumers safe while continuing to be available to those we serve. The most difficult part, as it has been for almost everyone, was the uncertainty about what was to come. So the leadership team prepared for the worst while hoping for the best.

Because we are in the “people business,” most of The IC’s staff is not set up to work offsite. This meant that Bill Wengert, Finance and Business Services Director, and Alex “AJ” Witzenburg, IT Generalist, had to get creative to make sure everyone had the right equipment and technology. AJ quickly put his expertise and problem-solving skills to work and by the time the official Stay-at-Home order was issued, the staff was ready. It’s not surprising that AJ won The IC’s internal “U Rock” award for his extraordinary efforts during this time.

Our Independent Living (IL) Division barely missed a beat, taking calls and assisting consumers with many needs that have become even more urgent with the pandemic. They continued to help people find housing and employment, apply for benefits,
participate in online support groups and skills classes, access assistive technology, and provide services for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community and those with low vision.

“One of the things that I’m very grateful for is how everyone works together to provide services to The IC’s consumers,” said Chris Robertson, IL Program Manager. “We are focused on keeping the needs of our consumers first!”

Of course, most of The IC’s Home Health staff are considered essential employees so they continued to come into the office or work in the field. They worked tirelessly on the front lines to ensure that those who rely on in-home health care services continued to receive exemplary care. Our Veteran in Charge team, which is part of Home Health, continued their commitment
to our Veterans with monthly check-ins, annual assessments, and completing training with VHA Train, Psych Armor, and the American Society on Aging.

Last but not least, the staff in our Administration division continued to support those who support our clients and consumers. Our Development department secured grants and funding, our Facilities department kept the building in working order for when employees returned, our Marketing department kept communications going both internally and externally, our Human
Resources department kept on top of employee questions and needs, and our Finance department made sure everyone kept getting paid!

Patricia Yeager, CEO of The IC, is proud of how the staff pulled together during this once-in-a-lifetime event. “It seems like the world changed almost overnight,” she said. “But one thing that will never change is our commitment to those we serve.”

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