The Visiting Nurses Association issues a statement Tuesday explaining its decision to shutter its Colorado Springs office.
“With the support of our Board of Directors, the Visiting Nurses Association has made an extremely difficult decision to close its doors in Colorado Springs,” says VNA’s Director of Human Resources Kim Robinson. “Our patients in Colorado Springs are of utmost concern and the agency will be retaining staff for two weeks to ensure a smooth transition for VNA patients to other homecare agencies. "
For several years we have been experiencing increased competition which led to a downturn in business in the Colorado Springs office for both home care and wellness services," human resources director Kim Robinson says in the statement. "Our flu shot distribution in particular has decreased 75% over the last several years due to widespread availability of flu shots via other sources."
VNA said it will focus on the Denver metro area, but will continue limited services in Colorado Springs.
"Several part-time wellness care nurses will be retained in the Colorado Springs area to provide foot care services to the following clinics: Colorado Springs Senior Center, Inn at Garden Plaza, Sundridge Retirement, Monument Senior Center at Lewis Palmer High School, and the West Center for International Leaning.
Robinson also said VNA will keep a skeletal staff on in Colorado Springs for a few weeks to move its home healthcare patients to other agencies.
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.