Monday, July 21, 2014

The working sick are sickening you

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Yes, it's not quite The Walking Dead. But the working sick are apparently taking their own toll on civilized society — not out of selfishness, but desperation and due to what some are calling an unjust business sector. 

We received a press release today via ROC United (Restaurant Opportunities Centers United) with a link to their 2010 report "Serving While Sick." This was in response to news last week of a Houston-based Subway employee fired after reportedly being forced to work sick. 

From the release, here's the worrisome data:
The issue of working while sick is endemic to the restaurant industry due to an overwhelming lack of paid sick days:

- According to our national report, Serving While Sick, of more than 4,000 workers surveyed, more than 87% of restaurant workers surveyed report not having paid sick days and more than 60% reported working while sick.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified restaurants as the leading sources of foodborne disease outbreaks — overwhelming caused by norovirus.

- Due to lack of paid sick days and poverty wages, restaurant workers often work while sick to avoid missing a day of pay. The base wage for tipped workers is as low as $2.13 an hour, resulting in servers using food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the workforce and being three-times as likely to live in poverty.

In response to the rising popularity of local paid sick days legislation around the country, the National Restaurant Association has also come out strongly in support of state level preemption bills that forbid cities from instituting paid sick day and wage laws entirely, successfully shepherding preemption legislation through nine states, and has helped introduce preemption legislation in seven more.

“There are easily more than 10 million restaurant workers in the U.S. With over half having had to work while sick — that’s more than 5 million people who should be at home recovering but instead are touching, preparing, and serving food to the public because they don’t have paid sick days, fear losing their jobs, or just can’t afford to take a day off because their pay is already so low,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-director and co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. “The National Restaurant Association’s opposition to paid sick days for restaurant workers is a public health disaster; we can point to the restaurant industry as the source of stomach flu every single season.”  
For more on the Subway employee, here's the news story:

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

UPDATE: Diet soda works wonders for the waistline

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Drink up, just make sure it's diet soda. - ROBIN CORPS
  • Robin Corps
  • Drink up, just make sure it's diet soda.
UPDATE: This just in. The study about diet soda as a weight loss strategy was completely funded by the soda industry, says Elizabeth Granger, who fielded questions on behalf of the researchers.

"While the study was industry-funded," she tells us in an email, "it was peer-reviewed and posted on Neither ABA, nor any of its members, was involved in any part of the study setup, its analysis or the writing of the paper."

——-ORIGINAL POST 10:22 A.M., TUES., MAY 27, 2014———-
You've heard it both ways: Drinking diet soda is a good way to avoid calories. Drinking diet soda won't keep the pounds off.

Well, now, you can confidently fill up your super jumbo mega soda cup with diet soda and know you're helping yourself lose weight, according to a new study set for publication in the June issue of Obesity, the journal of The Obesity Society. (Who knew an entire society was dedicated to the study of being grossly overweight?)

“This study clearly demonstrates diet beverages can in fact help people lose weight, directly countering myths in recent years that suggest the opposite effect – weight gain,” James O. Hill, Ph.D., executive director of the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, and a co-author of the study, said in a news release. “In fact, those who drank diet beverages lost more weight and reported feeling significantly less hungry than those who drank water alone. This reinforces if you’re trying to shed pounds, you can enjoy diet beverages.”

More from the release:
The 12-week clinical study of 303 participants is the first prospective, randomized clinical trial to directly compare the effects of water and diet beverages on weight loss within a behavioral weight loss program. Conducted simultaneously by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center in Aurora, Colorado and Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education in Philadelphia, the study shows subjects who consumed diet beverages lost an average of 13 pounds – 44 percent more than the control group, which lost an average of 9 pounds. More than half of the participants in the diet beverage group —64 percent — lost at least five percent of their body weight, compared with only 43 percent of the control group. Losing just five percent of body weight has been shown to significantly improve health, including lowering the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

“There’s so much misinformation about diet beverages that isn’t based on studies designed to test cause and effect, especially on the internet,” said John C. Peters, co-author of the study and the chief strategy officer of the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. “This research allows dieters to feel confident that low- and no-calorie sweetened beverages can play an important and helpful role as part of an effective and comprehensive weight loss strategy.”

Study participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups: those who were allowed to drink diet beverages, such as diet sodas, teas and flavored waters, or those who were in a control group that drank water only. With the exception of beverage options, both groups followed an identical diet and exercise program for the duration of the study.

In addition to losing 44 percent more weight than the control group, the diet beverage group also:

Reported feeling significantly less hungry;
Showed significantly greater improvements in serum levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — the so-called “bad” cholesterol; and
Saw a significant reduction in serum triglycerides.

Both diet soda and water groups saw reductions in waist circumference, and blood pressure.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Get free screenings at upcoming health fair

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 11:22 AM

For some, a regular check-up at the doctor's office is just too much cost and hassle.

Good news: Many of the screenings you should be getting regularly will be available, free of charge, at the 12th annual Southern Colorado Health Fair, to be held in Manitou Springs on April 26.

If you'd like to attend, check out the time and date information below, and also be sure to read through the rest of the release — many tests require some prep work on your part, like fasting.

Manitou Springs to host 12th Annual Southern Colorado Health Fair in new location

Manitou Springs, CO, April 8, 2014 — The Annual Manitou Springs Southern Colorado Health Fair will be held on Saturday, April 26, 2014, from 7:00 a.m. – noon. The fair will be held at Community Congregational Church, 103 Pawnee Avenue, in Manitou Springs.

The Southern Colorado Health Fair provides health education and basic health screenings to individuals 18 years of age and older throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Thousands of lives have been saved through early detection, prevention, and dynamic educational programming statewide.

Oral, hearing, and blood pressure checks, cardiac risk assessment and 31-component blood analyses are just a few of the free or low-cost health screening services available during the Southern Colorado Health Fair.

The 31-component blood analysis, including coronary risk ratio, glucose and TSH (thyroid), is available for a $30.00 fee. In order to receive an accurate blood analysis, the following guidelines should be followed: fast for 12 hours (diabetics should not fast); drink plenty of water to keep hydrated; and continue taking all prescribed medications as normal.

Men over the age of 40 years may take a prostate cancer screening (or PSA) test for a nominal fee of $25.00. Men opting to take the PSA blood test should follow the guidelines above prior to the screening.

In addition, a blood cell count, for a $15.00 fee, helps diagnose conditions such as anemia, infection, and many other disorders.

For more information about this event, contact The Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureau & Office of Economic Development at 719-685-5089, or visit For additional information on Statewide 9Health Fairs, visit or call 303-698-4455.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Memorial system to expand, build new facility

Posted By on Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Memorial North will be getting a new neighbor. - COURTESY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
  • Courtesy Memorial Hospital
  • Memorial North will be getting a new neighbor.

A new children's hospital is planned next to Memorial Hospital North as result of the city's lease agreement with the University of Colorado Health, according to a Memorial news release.

Although Children's Hospital of Denver isn't a signatory to the lease, it took over Memorial's Children's Hospital as part of the Oct. 1, 2012, lease agreement between the city and UCH.

Construction of a new children's hospital could have been good news for the city, if it came with a cut of the action. But the lease's provisions don't allow the city to share in revenues from Children's Hospital.

This is what we reported in a cover story about the lease on Aug. 8, 2012:
The city also is to receive annual lease payments of $5.6 million for 30 years, and for 40 years it would receive "margin sharing payments" based on Memorial's financial performance. [Then City Attorney Chris] Melcher estimates the margin payments at $2.5 million annually.

But the lease's margin sharing formula excludes revenue from services Memorial provides that aren't typically offered at Colorado hospitals of similar size and type. So money from certain specialty services might not be part of the calculation, which would have the effect of lowering the payment to the city. Revenues from Children's Hospital also would be omitted, except for those stemming from use of Memorial's facilities, [then UCH CEO Bruce] Schroffel says, because Children's isn't a party to the lease.
Here's the Memorial press release, which, not surprisingly, doesn't mention the lease's exclusion of revenues from the lease payment provisions:
After a transitional year that included a needs assessment and numerous strategic discussions, University of Colorado Health (UCHealth) and Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado) are pleased to announce a master facilities plan that would include expansion of both pediatric and adult services throughout Colorado Springs and southern Colorado. Components include expanding pediatric urgent care in Colorado Springs and exploring building a new free-standing children’s hospital adjacent to Memorial Hospital North.

While in the early stages of exploration, such a plan aims to meet the growing health care needs of southern Colorado. Additionally, a project of this scope is expected to drive economic development and new jobs. UCHealth and Children’s Colorado will be working with city officials and incorporating input from the community and key stakeholders along the way.

“In 2012 Colorado Springs voters placed their overwhelming support in UCHealth and Children’s Colorado, two nationally recognized organizations, to operate Memorial Hospital and to elevate health care for Colorado Springs,” said Mike Scialdone, President and CEO of Memorial Hospital. “This partnership helps us fulfill that promise and continue to deliver on the vision to make Memorial Hospital a regional and statewide leader in health care.”

“Children’s Colorado and UCHealth have worked diligently over the past year to honor the community’s trust by investing in new equipment, infrastructure, staff and physicians,” said Children’s Colorado CEO Jim Shmerling. “We’re excited to take this next step and deliver on our shared mission to improve lives and elevate patient care for children and teens in our community.”

As plans move forward, UCHealth and Children’s Colorado will work with the community, medical staff, and city leadership on the expansion of medical services throughout southern Colorado.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Free flu shots offered

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 5:03 PM

  • Steven Depolo

If you haven't had a flu shot because you're uninsured, here's your last chance to avoid the hurling and fever that goes with that nasty diagnosis.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department has partnered with Memorial Hospital, Penrose St. Francis Hospital, TLC Pharmacy and others to offer a free flu shot clinic. It's for uninsured children and adults ages 4 years and older.

The city's clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday in the community room of Fire Station 8, 3737 Airport Road.

Community partners in the free clinic program include Nazarene Bible College, Mercy's Gate, Ecumenical Social Ministries, High Plains Food Pantry, Springs Rescue Mission, 9-Health, Tri-Lakes Cares, Catholic Charities, Westside CARES, and Westside Community Center.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Penrose lauded as one of 100 'best hospitals'

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services has been lauded once again for its delivery of health care. 
click image SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock

Part of Centura Health, Penrose-St. Francis operates two hospitals in Colorado Springs — Penrose Main on North Cascade Avenue, and St. Francis Medical Center at Powers Boulevard and Woodmen Road. It also operates facilities across Colorado and in western Kansas, with more than 6,000 physicians and 16,200 employees.

Recently, Healthgrades, a leading provider of information about hospitals' performance, published a study naming Penrose-St. Francis as among America’s 100 Best Hospitals for cardiac care, orthopedic surgery and pulmonary care. It's the second year in a row that Penrose-St. Francis has received this recognition in orthopedic surgery, Penrose-St. Francis says in a news release. Also from the release:

The achievement is part of findings released today in American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2014: Healthgrades Report to the Nation, which demonstrates how clinical performance differs dramatically between hospitals and the impact that this variation may have on health outcomes. A 5-star rating indicates that Penrose-St. Francis’ clinical outcomes are better than expected when treating the condition or conducting the procedure being evaluated.

“Penrose-St. Francis has been a vital part of this community for more than 125 years,” said Margaret Sabin, president and chief executive officer of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. “Until recently, consumers chose a hospital based on reputation or location. Tools such as this Healthgrades report now allow consumers to research and choose a hospital based on the quality of care that a hospital provides, and we’re finding that they’re willing to travel to get quality care.”

Penrose-St. Francis has been one of Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals for the past six consecutive years. The 2014 recipient list is scheduled to be announced in February 2014.

“Hospitals achieve this distinction by providing better than expected outcomes for specific conditions and procedures,” said Evan Marks, Executive Vice President, Informatics and Strategy, Healthgrades. “When selecting physicians associated with a hospital that has achieved this recognition, consumers can expect a commitment to exceptional clinical quality care.”

For its analysis, Healthgrades evaluated approximately 40 million Medicare-patient records for nearly 4,500 short-term acute care hospitals nationwide, assessing hospital performance relative to each of 31 common conditions and procedures. Healthgrades awards hospitals quality achievements for cohort-specific performance, specialty area performance, and overall clinical quality. Individual procedure or condition cohorts are designated as 5 star (statistically better than expected), 3 star (statistically as expected) and 1 star (statistically worse than expected) categories. Detailed performance information, such as cohort-specific outcomes data and quality achievements for individual hospitals may be found at

More information on the American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2014: Healthgrades Report to the Nation, including the complete methodology, can be found at

Healthgrades also recognized Penrose-St. Francis in a number of other areas, including knee and hip replacement, treatment of pulmonary and respiratory ailments and general surgery excellence.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

UPDATE: Are you afraid to die? Because I really, really am.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 11, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Wouldn't you know it? The inbox delivers once again with this:

Death Cafe: A Colorado Springs First

Yup, a klatsch to discuss your fears and other unsettled feelings about life on this mortal coil. Death Cafes are actually a volunteer-run world-wide deal, according its website. Since it started in September 2011, over 300 Cafes have been held.

The institution's philosophy is simple and direct to the point:

At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death.

The objective of Death Cafe is 'to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives'.

Our Death Cafes are discussions about death that are always offered:

- On a not for profit basis

- In an accessible, respectful and confidential space

- With no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action

Cottonwood Center for the Arts is hosting our own Cafe on Friday, Oct. 25, as part of its annual Dia de los Muertos art show and celebrations. It starts at 4 p.m. and ends just in time for the Day of its Dia opening reception and party.

Creepy, right?


OK, not to get all weird on everyone, but I have a major fear of dying. I'm afraid of my family, my fiancé, even my pets and then of course, myself dying. I think about it a lot, and wonder about what the great hereafter is actually like. My best guess is that it's probably just nothing (I'm not religious in any kind of way), but I'll be the first to admit I don't know, and how could I, anyway?

Death death death death death death. Black, smothering, everywhere, everyone, everything, always. No choice, no take-backs, no other way about it.

It's all very depressing.

It doesn't have to be that way. (And I'm not counting on Google to "solve death" in my lifetime.) If anything, I'm not alone in my anxieties, but that's hardly helpful. And then this showed up in the inbox:


Oh really? You have my attention.

Do you or a friend fear death? Would you like to help a loved one in a meaningful way who is facing death? Are you curious about what happens at the moment of death? If you would like to explore these questions in a safe, nurturing environment, then we invite you to attend this deeply personal one-day transformative workshop.

What follows are talks with a "soul passage midwife," in this case, a woman who says she has spent 20 years "walking souls to the Other Side." Then therapeutic art and yoga, which will conclude with a discussion on "how creative process and subtle awareness are gateways to soul passage — and to the After Life."

And, it's $125. (Or $95 if you sign up early.)

OK, I'm skeptical about it. A class where you discuss your fears — with others — and lots of talk about "soul passage." And then yoga? Ugh. (Sorry, I'm just not a believer — I'm a couch potato.)

But then ... why not? So maybe I don't need to come to some kind of definitive conclusion about it, but I can, as the class advertises, "recognize fears about death which you can release."

Well, if you put it that way ...

Really, I'm in no position to criticize anyone seeking answers. Especially if they seem a little New Age-y and "out there." After all, my grandmother says the woman who haunted her house for 20 years has returned after a 30-year hiatus; and her uncle believed he could talk to his dead sisters; one of whom died after her dead father appeared to her in a dream saying he would take one of his children with him.

My ultimate point is that perhaps my normal mode of thinking critically is what's really flawed here. Just because it seems "out there," doesn't mean it's not true. People have discovered bizarre shit at the bottom of the deepest oceans — animals you couldn't even dream of, completely adapted to the harshest ecosystems. Then there's quantum mechanics for Chrissakes, and that's really weird: Stuff you could only dream about turns out to be really real.

Interested? Find class information here. Know of something better? Then comment below.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cancer research comes to Colorado Springs

Posted By on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 3:39 PM

According to the American Cancer Society website, over one million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year; it’s almost a guarantee that someone in your life has or will be one of those afflicted. I realize this probably isn’t the most upbeat news you've heard today, but I promise all is not grim and gloomy.

The silver lining around tough topics like cancer is that there are good-hearted people who invest in research to improve the lives of their (often unknown) neighbors. El Paso County residents will have the opportunity to do just this with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), which will be enrolling Colorado Springs residents at various locations, Tuesday, Oct. 15 through Friday, Oct. 18. Eligible participants are between the ages of 30 and 65 who have no personal history of cancer.

  • Shutterstock

The study will follow 300,000 individuals over 20 to 30 years.

“When we go into these studies, we’re not going in to look for one particular thing; we want to get a wide base and demographic of folks to figure out why some are diagnosed with cancer and some are not,” says Deanna Cordo, staff lead for CPS-3 enrollment in Colorado Springs.

CPS-3 is the third major, longitudinal study done by the American Cancer Society. “The first cancer-related study found the link between tobacco and cancer, and the second found the link between obesity and cancer,” explained Cordo. “The questions participants will be answering are based on their lifestyles and how active they are in their day-to-day world.”

The Society has been enrolling participants since 2006. At this point, they have about 280,000 participants signed up and will be enrolling until the end of the calendar year, when the study will close.

You can go online to schedule an appointment at one of the four locations in Colorado Springs, at which time you will be prompted to fill out the most comprehensive survey. At the actual appointment, you will be asked to give a blood sample and have your waist circumference measured (an anxiety-inducing experience for some of us, but all is kept confidential), as well as fill out another, briefer survey.

From this point on, participants will receive a new survey every 2 to 3 years over that 20 to 30 year span. These surveys can be filled out in the comfort of one’s own home and come with pre-paid postage, so laziness really doesn’t count as an excuse.

To learn more about how to get involved, visit
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Memorial seeks trauma 1 status

Posted By on Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Memorial Hospital will try for a Trauma 1 designation of its emergency rooms, both at the 1400 E. Boulder St. main hospital and the north hospital at 4050 Briargate Parkway, according to announcement made today by the University of Colorado Health, which leases Memorial from the city.

This is a big deal, because UCH vows to hire more people, including specialists like neurologists, and to serve people in need of sophisticated emergency medicine as far away as northern New Mexico. Memorial's Boulder Street location is a Trauma 2 facility, while the north hospital has no designation.

Memorial is being leased under a 40-year deal that became effective October 1 following voter approval on August 28. The city gets an annual payment from UCH, and it received $259 million upfront. That amount is being held in escrow until the city comes to terms with the Public Employees Retirement Association over how much is owed to secure Memorial employees' retirements at the time of the lease. Employees now are under a different retirement plan.

Here are the details as spelled out in a news release:

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Green healthcare comes to Castle Rock

Posted By on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 5:30 PM


The coming Castle Rock Adventist Hospital is a little far away, but if you're into some of the greener things in life it may be worth it. Opening Aug. 1, the newest arm of religious-minded Centura Health — of which Penrose-St. Francis Hospital and Health Services is a part — boasts of a community garden, a free bicycle-rental program and a "health-focused restaurant" called Manna helmed by chef Dan Skay.

The Wall Street Journal covered Skay in 2009, writing: "Judges hung a gold medal around the neck of Daniel Skay for his Machaca Flat Iron Steak With Cilantro Tomalito and Corn Chile Sauce. He clasped his hands and bowed. It was official: Mr. Skay had been named top chef — of hospitals."

An open house will be held this Sunday, July 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. if you want to see it for yourself. In the meantime, here are some facts provided via press release:

• On Thursday, August 1, 2013, the hospital will open to begin serving the residents of Castle Rock and surrounding communities with Labor and Delivery services, an ICU and acute care wing and a full-service women’s imaging center.

• The women’s imaging center is equipped with the only DEXA scan in Castle Rock. This equipment is used to determine bone density in women and diagnose osteoporosis. The center also provides digital mammography and is staffed with a fellowship trained breast radiologist.

• In addition to the services that will become available on August 1, the hospital also has an Emergency Room and imaging center, which have been serving patients since the phase one opening in 2011. The opening on August 1 completes the $130 million project.

• The hospital is 212,240 square feet, complete with 50 beds and fully staffed with 300 employees. A Flight for Life helipad is also on-site to be able to quickly and safely transport patients to or from the hospital if needed.

• With your first step into the Castle Rock Adventist Hospital Atrium, you’re greeted by inspirational music and six massive Aspen tree sculptures with leaves that illuminate to the tunes of the song playing. From the lively and unique artwork scattered throughout the hallways and sitting areas to the modern furniture and interior design details, Castle Rock Adventist Hospital was built to inspire a feeling of comfort and appeal to the community that it serves.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

147 of every 100,000 adults/teens has HIV in El Paso County

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 9:20 AM

That's the truth, and while that may sound alarming, consider that Miami-Dade County, though a much larger city, registers at 1,208 people for every 100,000.

We know this thanks to AIDSVu, a highly detailed interactive map that allows you to view the spread of AIDS across the U.S.

Each state is then broken down by county, each registering a different color based on the number of infections recorded there (naturally, the darker the color, the higher the number). The data, though now three years old, is carefully compiled by local and state health departments, which are then reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which then double-checks it.

AIDSVu receives that data, and then goes on to report other factors that are similarly mapped, like race, median household income, poverty, the number of uninsured people in the area and sex.

Some states have such low rates their data was withheld altogether, according to AIDSVu.
  • AIDSVu
  • Some states have such low rates their data was withheld altogether, according to AIDSVu.

Which brings us back to El Paso County, which shares similar statistics with Saguache, Lincoln and Summit counties. Fremont and Denver counties reported the highest numbers in the state, however the study notes that some rates are inflated due to the presence of correctional facilities.

The map does even more. It allows you to compare your county or state's HIV diagnoses with, say, the percentage of the population living in poverty side by side. Unsurprisingly, the rate of diagnoses goes up with the rate of poverty. Others are murkier, with no direct lines between the disease and other social factors, but it's worth noting that HIV has a long dormancy period, so many patients go years without knowing they are infected, which skews the data.

Persons living with HIV vs. percentage lacking health insurance.
  • AIDSVu
  • Persons living with HIV vs. percentage lacking health insurance.

It also offers a state profile, comparing the prevalence of HIV among races and how the state's stats line up against national averages. From there, you can also view state funding toward HIV care, awareness and prevention, and even find a local clinic for testing.

Zooming back out, it's quite the tool for understanding the spread of HIV country-wide, and observing the unbiased facts on the prevalence of poverty, lack of health insurance and a high school education and rates of disease.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

See or smell smoke? Head inside, if you can

Posted By on Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 2:09 PM

According to El Paso County Public Health, there's little to be gained from spending time outside today — unless you're on your way to check in on a neighbor.

El Paso County Public Health advises people to take precautions to protect from wildfire smoke

As smoke from the Black Forest Fire and fires in surrounding areas continue to affect air quality in El Paso County, Public Health recommends that people monitor air quality and if needed, take precautionary steps.

El Paso County Public Health is advising people, especially young children, those who exercise outdoors, those involved in vigorous outdoor work and those who have respiratory disease (such as asthma) to reduce or limit strenuous outdoor physical activity. If visibility is decreased in your neighborhood to less than five miles, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy.

“If you can see or smell smoke, it is a good indicator to reduce your exposure by going indoors,” said Jill Law, R.N., M.H.A., El Paso County Public Health Director.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued a wildfire smoke health advisory for the Black Forest Fire. To monitor current air quality, visit

For those individuals without indoor air conditioning, consider moving to cooler areas when possible. Drink plenty of water or other non-alcohol or decaffeinated fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool.

“This is the time for people to reach out to their friends and neighbors,” Ms. Law said. “If you know someone affected by wildfire smoke that doesn’t have air conditioning, help them in any way you can, by inviting them over or helping them find a safe place.”

Individuals experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or coughing should consult their medical provider.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

More jobs come to Springs due to Obamacare

Posted By on Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 4:57 PM

The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance announced today that a statewide health insurance marketplace will create a customer service office in Colorado Springs, adding about 100 jobs and occupying about 25,000 square feet of space.

Connect for Health Colorado, Business Alliance
  • Lee J. Haywood

Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s health care exchange as required by the Affordable Care Act, will set up shop this summer in Colorado Springs in preparation for giving assistance to people via telephone. The exchange operates online.

With little fanfare, the Business Alliance issued this press release:

"The new Customer Service Center will be a significant part of our network of support for individuals, families and small businesses in Colorado," said Patty Fontneau, ED/CEO of Connect for Health Colorado. "We are excited to support the Colorado Springs economy and to partner with Colorado Springs businesses and organizations to reach our mission of increasing access, affordability and choice for individuals and small employers looking for health insurance in Colorado."

Starting in October, Connect for Health Colorado will serve individuals, families and small employers who are looking for health insurance and will provide access to up-front financial assistance to eligible consumers to reduce costs. Customers will shop through a website and get expert help in person and over the phone from a network of customer service professionals, including Customer Service Center Representatives, Health Coverage Guides and certified health insurance agents and brokers. The marketplace is a public, non-profit entity that was established by Senate Bill 11-200, passed by the General Assembly in 2011. More information is available at

In addition to the phone support provided by the Colorado Springs site, several area organizations will provide in-person assistance to customers as part of a new program called the Connect for Health Colorado Assistance Network. Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments and Peak Vista Community Health Centers in Colorado Springs, Tri-Lakes Cares in Monument, and the Healthy Communities initiative at Memorial Hospital will serve as Assistance Sites for individuals, families and small employers in the region. These organizations will conduct outreach in late summer to educate residents about the new marketplace and will deploy Health Coverage Guides to provide in-person assistance in October.

The Customer Service Center site was chosen after a statewide evaluation of 31 sites, including 21 site visits across the state. The evaluation considered cost, age and condition of the buildings, access to mass transit, a strong labor pool and services, opportunity for expansion and safety. The site in central Colorado Springs met all requirements and provided excellent value and flexibility.

"We are delighted that Colorado Springs has been selected as the location for this important center which will be supporting and serving citizens all across the state of Colorado for their health benefit needs," said Joe Raso, President and CEO of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance. "Colorado Springs is recognized as a hub for customer support and back office operations for key corporate employers, and our region's intensified focus on the healthcare industry makes this center a perfect fit for our community."

The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, the leading business development organization in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region, has worked with the Connect for Health Colorado team on the project since late 2012 and will continue to assist them as they transition into the community with expedited permitting, identifying training funds available for employees, addressing workforce needs, etc.

Information about how to apply for jobs for the Customer Service Center will be available here by June 17, 2013.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

J.R. Martinez to speak at Heroes of Mental Health Luncheon

Posted By on Tue, May 21, 2013 at 2:51 PM

J.R. Martinez, AspenPointe
  • AspenPointe

Tonight's the season finale of Season 16 of Dancing With the Stars, a season that pales in comparison to last year's most-awesome All-Star round, not to mention Season 13, in which J.R. Martinez, a soap star, motivational speaker and vet, took home the mirror ball trophy.

Another reason probably has something to do with the fact that Jacoby Jones is still in the running, and — hello! — we must not promote the Baltimore Ravens. Gross.


Martinez won a huge following just by being a nice guy who, despite his lack of past experience, could really dance. He also overcame huge physical and emotional hurdles after suffering terrible burns following an IED explosion while deployed in Iraq in 2003.

So, the guy knows a thing or two about serious shit, which is why it's fitting that he'll be the keynote speaker at this year's Heroes of Mental Health Luncheon, hosted annually by AspenPointe. Tickets aren't yet available for the Oct. 15 affair, as AspenPointe will next month begin to accept nominations for the this year's Hero of Mental Health. (Last year's recipient: Dr. Sara Qualls.)

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Anti-fracking group sues city

Posted By on Fri, May 10, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Yesterday, Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights filed suit against the city in its ongoing effort to put a ban on fracking before local voters.

As explained in this week’s paper, the Initiative Title Setting Review Board last week rejected CSCCR’s proposed amendment to the city charter that would prevent “the extraction of natural gas or oil, including but not limited to, the processes commonly known as hydraulic fracturing and/or directional natural gas and oil well drilling, within the City of Colorado Springs.” The board contended the amendment violated the city’s rule against having multiple subjects addressed in a single ballot measure; CSCCR disagrees with that assessment, and even argues that the single-subject rule itself may not be legally valid.

The University of Denver Sturm College of Environmental Law Clinic will take up the cause, pro bono. That clinic is also representing a quartet of environmental groups aligned with the city of Longmont, which is being sued by the state for enacting a ban on fracking there.

“They’re very up to speed on the issue,” says CSCCR’s Dave Gardner. He adds that “the supervising attorney actually taught three classes about fracking at DU in the law school this last semester.”

With the suit filed in the 4th Judicial District, the city will be expected to file an answer. Gardner was unsure of the timeline for that; we have asked the city for more information, and will provide an update if and when we receive it.

Asked about a best-case scenario for his group’s effort, Gardner says that would involve the city simply backing down from its current stance.

“There’s still plenty of room for the city to do the right thing and not waste their resources in court and not waste everybody’s time fighting this in court.”

Here’s the group’s filed complaint:


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