Category Archives: Newsletter Spring 2016

Celebrating Our Purchase of Front Range Nurse Aide Training Program

photos from CNA open house

photos from CNA open house

Newly renamed, The Independence Center CNA School had its Open House February 19, 2016 to say farewell to Front Range Nurse Aide Training Program founders William and Nancy Whatley and to celebrate The IC’s acquisition.

Now We Can Train Our Own Certified Nurse Aides (CNAs)

The Home Health division of The Independence Center (The IC) has experienced a continual shortage of quality CNA caregivers to serve The IC clients with both physician-directed and client-directed care options.

“The Home Health industry has great difficulty finding CNAs to serve consumers. We hope by offering state-certified training ourselves we will retain some of the graduates as well as offer training to non-traditional groups such as people who are Deaf or speak other languages and want to work in their community.”
Patricia Yeager, CEO

Be on Your Way to a New Career in 4 Weeks

Demand for CNAs in Colorado has doubled over the past decade. The Colorado Board of Nursing, which provides certification for CNAs showed 24,816 active CNAs in 2016 and 49,734 active CNAs in 2016.

CNA jobs are expected to grow nationally by 21% over the next decade, according to

The IC CNA School offers day and evening courses in four week rotations.

Want a Job as a CNA With The IC?

The IC hires qulified graduates from our CNA School. We offer tuition reimbursement and sign-on bonuses, as well as tuition assistance for current employees.  For more information, contact Katey Castilla, Director of The IC CNA School, at 719-471-8181 ext. 136.


Advocacy Update

State Rep. Teri Carver speaks at the First Annual Legislative Breakfast at The Independence Center

The Independence Center thanks Rep. Terri Carver of Colorado Springs House

State Rep. Teri Carver speaks at the First Annual Legislative Breakfast at The Independence Center

State Rep. Teri Carver

District 20 for her vote “no” on Senate Bill 11 (SB11). SB11 would terminate the use of $15 million worth of funding from FASTER fees for transit and reallocate it towards road safety projects. Without this funding, Bustang and other statewide transit services and maintenance would have been threatened. SB11 was postponed indefinitely on February 18, 2016 on a 7-6 party-line vote. Thank you to Community Transit Coalition members who reached out to Rep. Carver and the 6 other representatives from House districts across Colorado who voted “no” on cutting necessary funding for transit.


CEO Corner (Spring 2016)

Photo of Patricia Yeager, CEO

In the spring, nature starts sending up signs of life as plants start to sprout. Where there was seemingly nothing going on over the winter, now suddenly a garden is starting to take shape. This yearPhoto of Patricia Yeager, CEO a number of initiatives are starting to take on a life of their own!

  1. Spouses of people with disabilities can now be hired by home health agencies of choice to provide Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). HCBS Services are available to Medicaid waiver clients to allow daily living services to be provided in the home. In the past, one could use Consumer Directed Services (CDASS) and get paid directly. However, spouses could not provide the care. Now they can! This is because regulations within a state bill passed in 2014 have now become final. We are hiring spouses who prefer the perks of employment: paid healthcare, vacation, retirement benefits, and access to respite services as needed.
  2. Local health care taking a step toward accessibility. Did you know El Paso County Health Department runs a Reproductive Health Clinic that is accessible to people with disabilities? Clinical Services include health and cancer screenings for women, including Pap tests, pelvic and breast exams, pregnancy tests, counseling, and birth control including Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC). Additionally they offer education, exams, and treatment for sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs/STDs). Same-day appointments are often available. Download the flyer with more information here. Please call them at (719) 578-3199 to find out more.
  3. The IC is getting the Veteran in Charge Home and Community Based Services Program off the ground. After a year of planning and submitting documents, The IC was approved by the VA to provide case management and coordination services for the veterans’ version of Home and Community Based Services that helps keep vets with disabilities in the community. We have one consumer now and are taking it slow until we learn the administrative ropes but soon you will be hearing much more about this program for vets.
  4. ASL Interpreters for health care appointments are available to deaf individuals enrolled in Community Care program. Deaf individuals who have Medicaid and Medicare and are enrolled in Colorado’s Community Care program can ask their doctor’s office to request an interpreter for their healthcare appointment through the service center. To confirm if an interpreter has been ordered, call the service center at (719) 314-2560. Now deaf individuals don’t have to go to the health care provider alone! Download the flyer with more information here.


Professor Regains Independence after Two Years in a Nursing Home

Jeffrey Burkhart smiles fora photograph in his new apartment

Dr. Jeffrey Burkhart sits casually in his living room discussing his 30 year career that encompasses teaching in four universities and two private schools. The walker next to him is the only indicator of his partial disability. A glint of pride sparkles in his eyes as he recalls a particular student’s evaluation of him at the end of a semester: Dr. Burkhart not only teaches us about French but he also teaches us that we matter.

Jeffrey Burkhart smiles fora photograph in his new apartment

Jeffrey Burkhart, a retired French professor, spent two years in a nursing home before being transitioned back into the community with help from The Independence Center.

“Unless you choose to live in a cave, you are in the ‘people business,’” he offers the oft-given admonition by his father and mother, a doctor and nurse respectively. The ‘people business’ has sustained him through four years of transitional housing. Now successfully living independently in his own apartment, he continues to seek out community with his neighbors in spite of needing to use the walker to get to them.

A retired French professor, Dr. Burkhart moved to Colorado Springs in 2007. A series of catastrophic events caused a sudden, unexpected eviction from his residence. Several days later Dr. Burkhart found himself being dropped off by cab at the doorstep of a local shelter. Because he didn’t even have enough money for cab fare, the cab driver kept his two boxes of belongings that held his only clothing, family photos and favorite books amassed throughout his career. Dr. Burkhart walked into the shelter with only the clothes on his back.

Health issues led to hospitalization, multiple surgeries and over two years in a healthcare facility. Sustained by his daily walks (utilizing his walker) along the facility corridors and visits with his resident neighbors, Dr. Burkhart sought out community inside the health care center that many people would call a nursing home. He just called it “home,” but he always knew it was temporary. The question was just how he was going to get into a position to live independently.

As one of the more independent residents, Dr. Burkhart was challenged by the facility social worker to once again enter the broader Colorado Springs community outside the comfort zone of daily corridor exercise. Walking the halls is where he met LaTesha, Community Transition Coordinator from The Independence Center (The IC). The rest is history, as they say, but it’s a history that’s still being written as Dr. Burkhart is regaining his independence through the Community Transition Services of The Independence Center.

LaTesha and the Community Transition Services team from The IC came along side Dr. Burkhart and moved him into his own apartment in July of 2015. By choice, his new apartment is just down the street from the healthcare center. He still gets his exercise going next door to walk the corridors and visit his neighbors in the healthcare center. But now instead of retiring to a small room he goes home to his comfortable first floor one-bedroom apartment.

Transitioning from life in a healthcare facility to independent living on his own is a passage that Dr. Burkhart doesn’t gloss over. Dr. Burkhart’s advice to others going through similar transitions is, “Be true to yourself and maintain the ties.” Intentionality about the ‘people business’ and Community Transitions Services provided by The Independence Center have given Dr. Burkhart a successful reentry to independent living. He’s even doing some of what he did for thirty years: giving French lessons in his apartment. He smiles and says, “It’s getting back to where I feel like I am part of society again.”

Community Transition Success after 11 Years in Nursing Home

Judy Gates poses for the camera in her new apartment

After a decade in a nursing home, Judy doesn’t take anything for granted; she appreciates the seemingly small things, such as the freedom to help herself to her own food in her own kitchen. She loves being able to get up any time of day or night to fix herself a sandwich. She also appreciates the freedom to have her valuables in her apartment without having to keep them under separate lock and key.

Judy Gates poses for the camera in her new apartment

Judy transitioned out of a nursing home after 11 years with the help of Community Transition Services at The Independence Center.

These are new freedoms since The Independence Center Community Transition Services program enabled Judy to move out into an independent apartment in 2015.

“The biggest highlight about Judy’s story is that we transitioned her out of the nursing home into the community after eleven years in the facility,” LaTesha Kearney, Community Transition Coordinator at The Independence Center explains. Judy laughs good-naturedly about the day that staff and volunteers from The Independence Center moved her out of the nursing facility. It was a big day for her and one she remembers clearly.

Judy gets a sparkle in her eyes when she talks about her neighborhood and her favorite pub. She’ll easily take a new friend around her apartment and point out her new furniture and décor, with which she has been establishing her new home.

Since the move, services set up by The Independence Center have helped sustain her independence. Judy receives regular visits each week from a nurse for medication monitoring and a CNA for help with personal care. She beams happily when she talks about her new situation. She says, “I love it.”



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