In January 2015, the Office of Inspector General received an allegation that the PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom Outpatient Clinic, a Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Colorado Springs, CO, did not provide veterans’ access to the Veterans Choice Program when the CBOC did not provide veterans timely VA care. One affected veteran sent the complaint, along with examples of issues affecting clinic services provided in audiology, mental health, neurology, optometry, orthopedic, and primary care. We substantiated the allegation that the veteran, as well as other eligible Colorado Springs veterans, did not receive timely care in the six reviewed services. We reviewed 150 referrals for specialty care consults and 300 primary care appointments. Of the 450 consults and appointments, 288 veterans encountered wait times in excess of 30 days. For all 288 veterans, VA staff either did not add them to the Veterans Choice List (VCL) or did not add them to the VCL in a timely manner. For 59 of the 288 veterans, scheduling staff used incorrect dates that made it appear the appointment wait time was less than 30 days. For 229 of the 288 veterans with appointments over 30 days, NVCC staff did not add 173 veterans at the CBOCs in the Eastern Colorado Health Care System (ECHCS) to the VCL in a timely manner and they did not add 56 veterans to the list at all. In addition, scheduling staff did not take timely action on 94 consults and primary care appointment requests. As a result, VA staff did not fully use Veterans Choice Program funds to afford CBOC Colorado Springs veterans the opportunity to receive timely care. We recommended that the ECHCS Director take actions to ensure appointments are scheduled using clinically indicated or preferred appointment dates, all veterans eligible for the Veterans Choice Program are added to the VCL in a timely manner, and scheduling staff timely act on consults and appointment requests. The acting director of the ECHCS concurred in principle with our recommendations. ECHCS executed a number of corrective actions to become compliant with current VHA scheduling guidance. Based on actions already implemented, we consider Recommendation 1 closed. We will follow up on the implementation of the remaining recommendations until all proposed actions are completed.Colorado's congressional delegation immediately reacted with harsh criticism.
It is intolerable that investigations continue to uncover these unacceptable practices at the VA. Our veterans deserve better.
Veterans waiting too long must have the option to access care through the Choice program and scheduling processes must be followed correctly. We’ll review the report’s findings and recommendations, ensure that the appropriate corrective steps are taken, and determine if any additional policy changes are needed. It’s clear from this report that we must continue to demand accountability at the VA and that strong oversight is still essential.
Supporting Victims and the Colorado Springs Community through PPCF Emergency Relief Fund: Crisis Intervention2) Sign the thank you banner for first responders
The Pikes Peak Community Foundation (PPCF) has initiated a new Emergency Relief Fund in response to the recent shootings at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs in which three people were killed and several more were injured. Through a thoughtful application process, PPCF’s Emergency Relief Fund: Crisis Intervention will support community-wide efforts of healing in the aftermath of this tragic event.
The Emergency Relief Fund: Crisis Intervention will provide financial resources to local nonprofits and agencies including first responders who immediately answered the call to help our community during this unexpected event, and to the agencies that will be working to meet future recovery needs.
A committee of community experts is being put into action now to help achieve the maximum positive impact possible for every dollar invested back into the community. In its commitment to that end, PPCF is underwriting all of the administrative costs associated with the Emergency Relief Fund: Crisis Intervention. That means 100% of every donation to this Fund will flow back into the relief and recovery effort.
Tax-deductible donations are being accepted to the Emergency Relief Fund: Crisis Intervention immediately and can be made online at ppcf.org/crisis or sent by mail to:
Pikes Peak Community Foundation
730 North Nevada Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
(Please make checks out to Pikes Peak Community Foundation, with “ERF: Crisis Intervention” noted.)
About the Emergency Relief Fund
PPCF’s Emergency Relief Fund: Crisis Intervention is modeled after the 2013 Black Forest Fund, which received an outpouring of community support and led the charge in relief efforts after the devastating Black Forest Fire, with the flexibility to quickly respond to the community's needs. PPCF created the Emergency Relief Fund so that donations may be instantly available for any emergency such as fires, floods, and other community challenges.
The Pikes Peak Community Foundation was founded in 1996. PPCF makes grants to support community improvement projects and operates high-impact programs such as Venetucci Farm, the Fund for the Arts, Pikes Peak Urban Gardens, the Erikson Fund, the Pikes Peak Conservation Fund, Pinello Ranch, and the Gordon Jackson Foundation at Aspen Valley Ranch, to create maximum benefit for our community. The Foundation creates custom-designed charitable gift funds for individuals, families, and businesses, including donor-advised funds, donor-designated funds, endowment funds, memorial funds, and scholarship funds, providing flexible and inexpensive alternatives to setting up private or family foundations.
The COS Human Relations Commission has organized a community Thank You banner signing event for the first responders in our city. The event is to honor those who protect and serve us as we begin recovery from the tragedy of last Friday.
Colorado Springs School District 11 is donating the banner paper and markers.
The signing events are:
Thursday , December 3 , 2015, from 3-5 PM , Pikes Peak Room, City Hall, 107 N. Nevada, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Friday , December 4 , 2015 from 9-11 AM, C 21 Library , ENT Conference Room , 1175 Chapel Hills Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.
Please bring your family, neighbors and co-workers to sign banners which will be distributed throughout the city to our first responders. The banners signed on Thursday will be used at Officer Swasey's service on Friday.
There is no better time for our city to unite, overcome adversity and thank those that continually and selflessly serve our community.
Lt. Gov. Garcia to join Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education——- ORIGINAL POST, TODAY, 9:52 A.M. ——-
DENVER — Tuesday, Nov.10, 2015 — Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia today announced that Lt. Gov. Garcia has accepted a position as president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. He will leave his dual role, which includes executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE), and plans to begin with WICHE sometime before July 1, 2016.
“I want to thank Gov. Hickenlooper and the State of Colorado for the incredible opportunity to work on important policy issues for the last five years,” said Garcia. “This was a difficult decision but education has always been my passion. I look forward to carrying the message of opportunity, college completion and workforce development throughout the West.”
“Joe will be nearly impossible to replace,” said Hickenlooper. “He has been an exceptional lieutenant governor and in leading education efforts for Colorado. He has given five years selflessly to the success of this state and the future education of our children. We are grateful and wish him continued success.”
Before he was elected lieutenant governor, Garcia was president of Colorado State University - Pueblo. He also served as president of the second-largest community college in Colorado, Pikes Peak Community College and as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary’s Representative for the Rocky Mountain States; Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies; and was named the first Hispanic partner in the 100-year history of the law firm, Holme Roberts & Owen.
Lt. Gov. Garcia has been actively involved throughout his career as a board member for many non-profit agencies such as the YMCAs of Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver; Pikes Peak Legal Aid; the Colorado Springs and Pueblo Economic Development Agencies; The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (where he served as board president); the Pikes Peak Child Nursery Centers Inc.; the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; and numerous other civil rights, educational, and cultural organizations. He earned a business degree from the University of Colorado and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School.
In the event of a vacancy, the governor nominates the lieutenant governor who takes office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both houses according to the Colorado constitution.
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and its 16 members work collaboratively to expand educational access and excellence for all citizens of the West. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy among states and institutions, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. Its programs – Student Exchange, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, Policy Analysis and Research, and Mental Health and several other interstate collaborations – are working to find answers to some of the most critical questions facing higher education today. WICHE’s 16 members include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the U.S. Pacific territories and freely associated states (the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is the first of the group to participate).
The FDA reports that it received 5,093 reports on Essure, mostly from women who received the implant, from Nov. 4, 2002, to May 31, 2015. The most common complaints included "pain/abdominal pain (3,353), heavier menses/menstrual irregularities (1,408), headache (1,383), fatigue (966) and weight fluctuations (936)." The most frequent device problems were "patient device incompatibility (941) (for example, possible nickel allergy), migration of the device or device component (482), device operating differently than expected (301), device breakage (259) and malposition of the device (133)."The women I talked to reported far more problems, like cysts, hair and tooth loss, heart problems, vomiting, panic attacks, and loss of mental function. I mentioned in the article that U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., was planning to introduce a bill to address those concerns called "The E-Free Act." At the time, his office wouldn't give details on exactly what the bill would do.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) joined women harmed by the medical device Essure Wednesday outside the United States Capitol to announce the introduction of the E-Free Act - legislation to remove the product from the market.
“Can you imagine such debilitating pain, fatigue and depression that you feel as if your children have lost you as a parent? For women impacted by the medical device Essure and its documented damaging side effects, this unimaginable situation is a stark reality,” said Fitzpatrick. “That’s why, 13 years to the day after Essure was given pre-market approval, I’ve introduced the E-Free Act to remove this device from the market before it can hurt any more women.”
Essure is a permanent sterilization device for women produced by Bayer. This medical device is a nickel-based metal coil designed to be inserted in the fallopian tube and cause tissue scarring. Since it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on November 4, 2002, the FDA has received over 5,000 formal complaints related to the device. Tens of thousands of women have reported symptoms including extreme pelvic and abdominal pain, migraines, autoimmune reactions, loss of teeth and hair, the metal coil breaking and migrating throughout the body, and the coil cutting into the uterus and other organs in the abdominal cavity. The deaths of at least four women and five unborn children have been attributed to Essure.
“The failures of Essure are well documented and wide ranging. Yet, in the face of all these facts, this device remains on the market; certified with the FDA’s stamp of approval. That’s unacceptable to me and unacceptable to the tens of thousands of “Essure Sisters” who are living with this device’s effects,” said Fitzpatrick. “If the FDA or manufacturer aren’t willing to act in the best interest of these women, Congress must.”
Essure Problems, a group of over 23,000 women who joined together online to share stories of how Essure impacted their lives, has led a grassroots lobbying effort to bring awareness to the issue and stop the harm caused by the device.
“The Essure Problems group is so very grateful for the support of Congressman Fitzpatrick. The women harmed represent every party, every nationality, every color, and every walk of life. We have been able to stand side by side and unite and work together for this cause,” said Amanda Rusmisell, victim and Legislative Liaison of the Essure Problems group. “Tens of thousands of otherwise healthy young women have been significantly harmed by the medical device Essure - most of them requiring multiple surgeries, most often, hysterectomy. We are asking Congress to help push the FDA to revoke the approval for this dangerous and ineffective medical device.”
Fitzpatrick is an outspoken advocate for medical device safety and has previously pushed back against the FDA’s approval process for power morcellators which have been proven to spread undetected cancer in women. After receiving a bipartisan letter led by Fitzpatrick, the Government Accountability Office is in the process of investigating the device and its approval process.
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