News Column

Visiting Nurses Association Shutters Doors in Colorado Springs

Feb 5, 2013

Barbara Cotter

The Visiting Nurses Association, a nonprofit perhaps best known for its community and workplace flu-shot clinics, abruptly closed its Colorado Springs office last week and eliminated the jobs of 40 to 50 nurses, social workers and other employees.

"Everybody was laid off," said a former employee, who received the termination letter on Thursday. "We had no warning."

It's unclear how many of the nonprofit's home-health care, physical therapy, hospice and palliative care and wellness services would be terminated or, perhaps, picked up by VNA staff in Denver. Repeated phone calls to VNA president and CEO Laura Reilly in Denver were not returned.

But someone who answered the phone at the Colorado Springs office Monday said no more flu shots are being given.

Several former employees said they were shocked by the closure, because they thought the office had been doing well after hitting a bumpy patch. A framed poster depicting the VNA's "continuum of care" services had just gone up on the office wall a few weeks ago, and on Jan. 29 -- two days before the termination notices went out -- the nonprofit posted a notice on Facebook telling people they could get a flu vaccine for their kids at the Colorado Springs location.

"We were turning this agency around down here," said the former employee, who asked not to be identified.

In the letter to employees, Reilly said the decision to close the office was "based solely on the needs of the business." She did not elaborate.

The decision to close the office also surprised some of VNA's community partners. Mendy Putman, director of the Colorado Springs Senior Center, was caught off guard when she heard the news on Friday, the day after the termination letters went out. She had to call the Denver office to find out more, and was told that, at least for now, VNA would continue operating a popular toenail clinic at the Senior Center.

"The toenail clinic is the biggest thing," Putman said. "It's three days a week, 8-to-3, Monday, Thursday and Friday, and people just clamor to have their toenails trimmed. At least I know at this point we're going to be OK."

According to the VNA website, the nonprofit has had an office in Colorado Springs since the early 1980s, although a 1988 story in The Gazette indicates it went out of business for a time because it couldn't pay its bills.


Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2013 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

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