What Safer-at-Home Means for You and The IC

Dear friends,

Starting this week, Colorado is transitioning from the stay-at-home order to the safer-at-home phase. Although residents are no Image of hands holding houselonger ordered to stay at home, we are being strongly encouraged to do so whenever possible. However, those considered at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are being asked to continue following stay-at-home recommendations, only leaving home for medical care and essential activities.

I encourage you to read more about the new safer-at-home phase and what that means to you at https://covid19.colorado.gov/safer-at-home.

So what does this mean for The Independence Center? While some non-critical businesses have started reopening with restrictions and reduced staff, here at The IC our physical buildings remain closed to outside visitors, with only essential personnel working onsite. We are working on a plan for a gradual reopening but we’re taking it one step at a time. We must ensure that we have the proper precautions in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and keep our staff and our consumers safe. As soon as we have a plan, we will make sure you know.

In the meantime, please remember that The Independence Center’s staff is still here for you if you need peer support, advocacy, or other services during this time. Just call us at 719-471-8181 or email us at info@the-ic.org.

Stay well,

Patricia Yeager
CEO, The Independence Center

Scholarships Available to Students Training to Be Certified Nurse Aides

With the rise of COVID-19, many individuals find themselves without jobs while the Happy woman at computerdemand for health care workers continues to increase. The Independence Center (The IC) hopes to address both issues by providing scholarships to 38 students in its Certified Nurse Aide Training Program (CNATP).

The scholarships are possible thanks to a $28,500 grant The IC recently received from the Colorado Springs Health Foundation (CSHF). Available on a first-come, first-served basis for students with training program start dates between June 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, the scholarships will cover $750 of the program’s $950 all-inclusive tuition, leaving each student with a cost of only $200. (Note: Students who are already sponsored through a sponsoring agency are not eligible for this scholarship.)

Interested applicants can apply on The IC’s website at https://bit.ly/cna_scholarship. They will be required to complete a 500 – 1000 word essay on why they want to be a CNA and what they plan to accomplish as a CNA. The remaining $200 tuition payment is also required at the time of enrollment.

The IC’s CNATP, which is located at 711 S. Tejon Street in Colorado Springs, is a four-week long program approved by the Colorado State Board of Nursing. Students who complete the 104 hours of course work and clinicals are eligible to take the state board exam to become a CNA. Once training is completed, individuals can work for up to 120 days as a CNA before taking the exam, allowing graduates to get to work quickly.

“CNAs serve a vital role in the health care industry,” said Indy Frazee, Home Health Administrator for The IC. “They perform essential duties, in both hospital and home settings, that can help save lives.”

The funds from CSHF, which provides grants that target immediate health care needs and encourage healthy living, will help The IC address both local unemployment and the nationwide CNA shortage. Currently, there are more than 800 open CNA jobs listed on Indeed.com in the state of Colorado; almost 10% of those are in El Paso County. At the same time, nearly 300,000 Coloradans have filed for unemployment since mid-March. Newly trained CNAs will help alleviate pressure on the health care system while supporting their household and stimulating the economy.

“Colorado Springs Health Foundation is honored to support the work of The Independence Center,” said Cari Davis, Executive Director for CSHF. “Our grant to support the development of the CNA workforce is one way that we can help address the health care workforce shortage. COVID-19 presents the most recent example of how important these (and other) health care workers are to a healthy community.”

Individuals interested in more information about the CNA Training Program or the scholarships can call The IC at 719-648-1020.


A Note from Patricia: Know Your Health Care Rights During COVID

Image of Patricia Yeager with the words A Note from PatriciaDear friends,

We all appreciate the heroes in the health care field who are putting themselves on the front lines for our safety. But unfortunately, some are being hampered by hospital or state policies that can be used to deny lifesaving care to certain patients.

Forbes magazine recently published an excellent and unsettling article about health care discrimination people with disabilities are facing during COVID-19 called The Disability Community Fights Deadly Discrimination Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic. According to the article, “States and individual hospitals started to draft or reveal previously developed scarcity policies that either explicitly or implicitly excluded people with disabilities … not just on an individual basis, and not only as a secondary, knock-on effect … but in some cases categorically, by diagnosis and certain arbitrary measurements that have little to do with COVID-19 survivability.” (Click here to read the article.)

In light of this, I want to make sure you know the rights of people with disabilities when it comes to medical care, especially during COVID-19.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with physical or mental disabilities have a right to access equal medical care and alternative communication methods. This means:

  • You can access the medical care that you need like everybody else. You cannot be denied a ventilator or other forms of emergency care due to your disability.
  • If you are Deaf or hard of hearing, you can request captions, American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting, or other communication methods that work for you.
  • If you are blind or have low vision, you can request written material in large print, braille, or in an electronic computer file.
  • You can request pictures or simple words to help you understand information.

*In certain cases, medical providers may legally deny a service animal if the animal is causing cross-contamination or causing undue harm. Call The Independence Center at 719-471-8181 if you have questions about assistance animals.

If you need to go to a hospital or medical facility, you can:

  • bring assistive equipment with you, such as a ventilator, cane, or wheelchair;
  • bring a trained service animal with you in most cases*;
  • bring a support person with you unless they are sick;
  • ask for help with follow-up care and services.

For more information about disability rights in health care, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund offers a comprehensive overview. Please bookmark it for easy reference in case you ever need it.

Image of stethoscope

How to advocate for your health care

Even in the best of times, advocating for one’s own health care can be difficult. However, you can make it easier by preparing ahead of time. Take a look at the ideas below and then think about additional things you can do that relates specifically to your own disability.

Do you need assistance during medical appointments or have special instructions for working with your disability? Consider writing your disability needs and communication preferences down on a placard and bring that with you to the hospital.

The National Association of the Deaf has created a toolkit for preparing for a hospital visit, which advises people to bring communication tools with them, like a pen and paper, and a whiteboard or a smartphone. Although geared toward Deaf and hard of hearing individuals, this can apply to people with other types of disabilities as well.

How to advocate for others

Whether you have a disability or not, it’s important to be vigilant about advocating for yourself and each other.

Learn about ways you can act now to advocate for people with disabilities by visiting the #Nobody is Disposable website. And if you have personally experienced or witnessed discrimination based on disability, share your story with the Center for Public Integrity.

Remember, we at The Independence Center are here for you if you need peer support, advocacy, or other services during this time. Call us at 719-471-8181 or email us at info@the-ic.org.

If you have a more urgent mental health need, call Colorado Crisis Services at 844.493.8255, or text the word “TALK” to 38255.

Stay well,

Patricia Yeager
CEO, The Independence Center

A note from Patricia: How about some good news?

image of patricia yeager with the words: a note from patricia

Dear friends,

These days, it seems that everywhere we turn, there’s bad news. And because we’re all so connected through our computers, tablets, and phones, it can feel impossible to escape. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that all this negativity can take a toll on our physical and mental health.

But even during the most difficult times, there’s good news in the world. There are people helping others, beating the odds, connecting in new ways, and making the best out of a bad situation.

Today, I encourage you to take a breath, turn off the bad news for a while, and read through the uplifting stories below. Remember, we will get through this…together.

21-Year-Old Student Makes Face Masks for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

“The lack of masks has prompted people to simply make their own. However, college student Ashley Lawrence noticed that no one’s making masks for the deaf and hard of hearing community. As the numbers of coronavirus cases are rising, it’s important for people to have essential medical items, so Ashley decided to join the cause by making her own masks for those in need.” [READ MORE]

Image of video. Click for full story.WWII veteran recovers from coronavirus just in time for 104th birthday

A “resilient” 104-year-old man who lived through the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression and World War II has now recovered from the coronavirus. William “Bill” Lapschies contracted the virus at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Oregon. He first started showing symptoms on March 5 and been isolated in his room, but…he is considered recovered from COVID-19. [READ MORE]

A Neighborhood Celebrated a Teen’s Last Chemo Session with a Coronavirus-Appropriate Parade

Last June, 15-year-old Courtney “Coco” Johnson was diagnosed with cancer and since then, has endured two surgeries and dozens of chemotherapy sessions. Recently, she completed her final chemotherapy session and got to leave Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) for the final time. Because she was unable to have a traditional celebration due to COVID-19, dozens of Coco’s neighbors decided to surprise her with a socially distanced “reverse parade” on her street. [READ MORE]

Smiling woman with dogPet Fostering Takes Off As Coronavirus Keeps Americans Home

“Animal shelters across the U.S. say they’ve placed record numbers of dogs, cats and other animals as people suddenly find themselves stuck at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.” [READ MORE]

Colorado communities continue to show solidarity, howl together at 8 every night

“Growing night after night, neighborhood by neighborhood, men and women, children and dogs join in howling and cheering, to the point where the collective voices weave into an echoing song in the night. While people howl for different reasons, many see it as a chance to celebrate the medical first responders on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis.” [READ MORE]

Good News, Colorado: Social Distancing Is Likely Paying Off

Image of meme with the words we're all in this together“Coloradans have been social distancing to various degrees for about three weeks now in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. For such an active, adventure-loving population, those three weeks have probably felt more like three years. And at this point, we’re all likely wondering: Are these social distancing measures actually working? According to Gov. Jared Polis, the answer is yes.” [READ MORE]

Do you have good news to share about someone who is helping others during COVID-19? Send us a message through our Facebook page. If you don’t have Facebook, feel free to email us at marketing@the-ic.org.



Remember, all of us at The Independence Center are here to support you. Just give us a call at 719-471-8181. If you have a more urgent mental health need, call Colorado Crisis Services at 844.493.8255, or text the word “TALK” to 38255.

Stay well,

Patricia Yeager
CEO, The Independence Center

A Note from Patricia: Creative Ways to Connect During COVID

Dear friends,

This week, the governor extended the state’s Stay-at-Home order Image of Patricia Yeagerthrough April 26, 2020, which means at least a few more weeks of social distancing for most of us. But even though it’s necessary to maintain physical distance right now, that doesn’t mean that we can’t connect with one another. In fact, it’s more important than ever! We just have to be a little more creative about it.

Here are a few ideas for connecting with friends, family, and the community during COVID-19.

Put technology to use.

Imagine being alive during the pandemic of 1918. At that time, social distancing meant being isolated from everyone and everything outside of your house. Thankfully, in 2020, we can use technology to socially connect with friends and family, whether they’re next door or halfway across the world.

Send a quick “thinking about you” text. Call each other the “old fashioned” way over the phone. Stay up to date on social media. Or set up a video date to share coffee or a meal together. If you’ve never set up a video call before, click here for a great guide to get you started.

Join a community event online.

Many groups are moving events online as a way to create shared experiences. Reach out to your favorite local theater or music group to find out if they have any live-streaming events. Or look for educational opportunities or webinars that allow you to interact in real time.

Here at The IC, we invite you to join us for these live virtual events via GoToMeeting.

  • My COVID-19 Health and Wellness Plan
    April 15, 1pm-2:30pm

    This learning session will offer ideas for sustaining your physical and mental health and teach you how to utilize your support circle during social isolation.
  • The Healthy Food and Gardening Learning GroupImage of pots with seedlings
    Begins April 20, 1pm-2:30pm

    Learn about and share ideas for healthy recipes, how to make the most of staples in your home, food resources, and how to grow vegetables and fruits in your home.
  • Mindfulness Learning Group
    Begins April 21, 11am-12pm

    Discover the benefits of mindfulness, different types of mindfulness practices, and ideas for starting a personal practice and making it your own.

If you are interested in learning more or would like to RSVP, please email Carrie Baatz at cbaatz@the-ic.org or call 719-471-8181, ext. 116. After you RSVP, you will receive instructions on how to join the meeting. Please let Carrie know if you need accommodations like captions or an ASL interpreter.

Volunteer to help.

When there’s a crisis, one of the best things we can do is to lend a helping hand. While volunteering in person is not an option for many of us right now, there are a number of virtual ways to get involved. (Note: The IC is not directly involved in any of the resources listed below. Please vet each group/site to determine if it’s the right fit for you.)

Remember, all of us at The Independence Center are here to support you. Just give us a call at 719-471-8181. If you have a more urgent mental health need, call Colorado Crisis Services at 844.493.8255, or text the word “TALK” to 38255.

Stay well,

Patricia Yeager

A Note from Patricia: Coping with Social Distancing & Isolation

Dear friends,Photo of Patricia Yeager, CEO of The IC

Since Colorado governor Jared Polis issued the state’s Stay-at-Home Order, most of us are primarily confined in our home, only leaving for quick trips to gather essentials. While these measures are essential to reduce exposure and flatten the curve, this sudden change in our lives can have an impact on our mental and physical health.

During this time, you might find yourself experiencing:

  • Anxiety, stress, worry or fear;
  • Uncertainty or ambivalence;
  • Loneliness;
  • Anger, irritability, or frustration;
  • Boredom or restlessness;
  • Symptoms of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness, changes in appetite, or sleeping too little or too much;
  • Symptoms of PTSD such as hyper-vigilance (feeling easily startled), feeling trapped, distressing memories, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts.

These feelings are a normal part of crisis and stress. That’s why it’s helpful to take intentional steps to care for ourselves and each other. Here are a few tips we’ve put together to get you started:

Create a new routine.

Consistency and structure can help create stability and a sense of control. Having a plan for your day can alleviate uncertainty and stress. For example, if you are now working from home, try to start and end work at the same time each day.

Eat well and stay hydrated.

Good nutrition and hydration is critical to maintain your health and boost your immune system. Check out these tips from the World Health Organization on Food and Nutrition in Self Quarantine. And if you need emergency food resources, please contact us at 719-471-8181, ext. 140.

Take a break from the news.

It seems that bad news is everywhere you look these days. Make sure to give yourself breaks from the news and social media, while staying up to date by connecting with credible sources of information such as WHO, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE).

Move your body.

Physical movement can lighten our mood and release stress and tension. A change of scenery can also do wonders so, if possible, get outside for a walk or bike ride. Just be sure you’re keeping six feet between yourself and others. The YMCA also offers virtual workouts and our partner Morgen Thomas at Yoga Studio Satya is presenting a free adaptive yoga class every Thursday at 4pm MT. For more info, contact her at moezone2001@yahoo.com or 719-201-3186.

Start a new hobby or project.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but never had time for? Now’s your chance! Dive into some new books. Take a virtual art class. Start growing your own food. Learn a new language. The possibilities are endless!

Discover a TV show, movie, or podcast.

With all the ways to access television shows, movies, and podcasts, there’s something out there for everyone. Whether it’s watching old reruns of Bob Ross painting “happy little trees” or listening to a podcast about a favorite topic, these are great ways to escape!

Use grounding tools.

To help center yourself and alleviate anxiety, try different grounding tools to see what works for you. Play music or nature sounds, unwind with an adult coloring book, take a hot shower, play with your pet, dance, walk outside and take a few deep breaths, or practice meditation.

Connect with loved ones.

Social distancing means it’s more important than ever to reach out to friends and family. Call, text, connect over social media, do video dates over coffee or a meal. (In next week’s post, we’ll be offering even more ideas how to connect and create community.)

Remember, all of us at The Independence Center are here to support you. Just give us a call at 719-471-8181.

If you have a more urgent mental health need, call Colorado Crisis Services at 844.493.8255, or text the word “TALK” to 38255.

Stay well,

Patricia Yeager
CEO, The Independence Center

Edgar Morales: ¿Por qué el Censo 2020 es importante para usted y su comunidad?

Una vez cada 10 años, el gobierno federal exige que los residentes de los Estados Unidos sean contados a través del Censo de los Estados Unidos. En el video a continuación, Edgar Morales, Especialista en Habilidades de IL en The Independence Center, explica por qué es tan importante que las personas con incapacidades se pongan de pie y sean contadas durante el Censo 2020.


¡Visite nuestra página del Censo de EE. UU. Para obtener más información sobre el Censo, por qué es tan importante completarlo y cómo enviar el suyo!

Patricia Yeager: Why Census 2020 Matters to You and Your Community

Once every 10 years, residents of the United States are required by the federal government to be counted through the U.S. Census. In the video below, Patricia Yeager, CEO of The Independence Center, explains why it’s so important for people with disabilities to stand up and be counted during the 2020 Census. “You help to inform…how to distribute money for schools, health care, emergency prep, local services, and for your local independent living center,” she says.



Visit our U.S. Census page for more information on the Census, why completing it is so important, and how to submit yours!

Paul Spotts: The Census and Community Planning

For Paul Spotts, Assistive Technology Specialist for The IC, the Census is important because it affects planning and funding for our local communities. This includes infrastructure like transit, road construction, and better highways. Watch the video below to learn more about why Paul will be filling out his 2020 Census.


Visit our U.S. Census page for more information on the Census, why completing it is so important, and how to submit yours!

Matthew Ruggles: How the Census Affects Education and Employment

Screenshot from Census Video with MatthewThe IC’s Matthew Ruggles is an IL Specialist with emphasis on Deaf and hard of hearing. In the video below, he explains some of the ways that an accurate Census count benefits people in our community. For example, the results of the Census affect how funding is allocated when it comes to education, training, and employment support.



Visit our U.S. Census page for more information on the Census, why completing it is so important, and how to submit yours!