2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • St. Francis Medical Center gets Level III trauma designation

    Thu, July 24, 2014 by Jakob Rodgers with no comments

    The 21-foot statue of St. Francis of Asissi towers over the entrance of the St. Francis Medical Center on Woodmen Rd. at Powers Blvd. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

    The 21-foot statue of St. Francis of Asissi towers over the entrance of the St. Francis Medical Center on Woodmen Rd. at Powers Blvd. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

    St. Francis Medical Center has moved up a notch in its ability to treat trauma patients.

    The hospital in northeast Colorado Springs has received a Level III trauma designation from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the hospital announced Thursday.

    The new designation, which goes into effect Aug. 1, could allow more patients to remain at the hospital, rather than being transferred to other facilities in Colorado Springs or the state, according to the hospital.

    Colorado regulators classify hospitals based on their ability to treat trauma patients, with Level V being the simplest level of care and Level I being the most advanced (some hospitals go undesignated, and they must transfer nearly all trauma patients to another facility).

    Colorado Springs currently has two Level II trauma centers: Memorial Hospital and Penrose Hospital. But the state’s only Level I centers are located in Denver.

    Memorial Hospital officials announced plans on Aug. 1, 2013 to seek a Level I status, and Penrose Hospital officials followed weeks later with an announcement of their own.

    No announcements have been made on whether regulators will award their highest designation to either hospital.

  • El Paso County not planning to house immigrant children

    Fri, July 18, 2014 by Jakob Rodgers with no comments

    This June 18, 2014 file-pool photo shows detainees in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas. The surge of Central American children crossing the U.S. southern border has shifted the politics of immigration, weakening one of the most potent arguments Democrats plan to make against Republicans in November and in the next presidential election. In the past month, the number of Americans who rank immigration as the nation’s top problem has tripled in surveys conducted by Gallup _ putting the issue on par with the economy and unemployment as the most frequently named issues facing the country. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool, File)

    This June 18, 2014 file-pool photo shows detainees in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool, File)

    Unlike elsewhere in the state, El Paso County officials have no plans to start housing unaccompanied minors from the Mexican border, a county spokeswoman said Friday.

    A shelter for those children is being considered by Denver Human Services, which might repurpose a 54-bed residential treatment facility for that purpose, KUSA-TV/9News recently reported. The Associated Press reported on Friday that the department might seek a three-year federal grant, though no application has been submitted.

    Similar plans do not appear to be in the works for the El Paso County Department of Human Services. The county agency will only file a similar grant request if asked to do so by the Colorado Department of Human Services, said Kristina Iodice, a county spokeswoman.

    So far, no such request has been made, she said.

    “That’s a state-level decision,” Iodice said.

  • Four people treated for plague in Colorado

    Fri, July 18, 2014 by Jakob Rodgers with no comments

    Gazette file

    Gazette file

    An outbreak of plague appears to have been contained after four people became infected from a dog with fleas in east Adams County, Colorado’s state veterinarian said Friday.

    “We believe that the exposures are over,” said Jennifer House, veterinarian with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

    The outbreak came after a dog died from being exposed to fleas from a prairie dog or a rabbit, the health department reported.

    One person originally tested positive for the disease, but Tri-County Health Department officials later found three more people with plague-like symptoms, House said. All had been in contact with the dog, though House declined to say whether the dog was alive or dead at the time.

    Such outbreaks are rare – the state has had only 12 confirmed cases of plague from 2004 through 2013, House said. None of those cases were related to each other.

    Plague is known to circulate among rodent populations across the state, including in El Paso County. Health officials recommend people and their pets avoid prairie dog colonies, and they urge people to seek immediate care if they develop a high fever after handling a dead rodent, or being bit by a flea.

    To learn more about plague in Colorado, click here to visit the state’s website about the disease.

  • Expo aimed at helping people with disabilities

    Tue, July 15, 2014 by Jakob Rodgers with no comments

    An upcoming expo aims to help people with disabilities live more independent lives.

    The Celebrate Independence Expo, scheduled for July 25 and 26, will feature several exhibits, performances and health screenings that are geared toward helping those with disabilities live more self-sufficient lives.

    The expo, which is hosted by The Independence Center, will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Freedom Financial Services Expo Center, 3655 N. Nevada Ave.

    It will begin with a job fair involving 37 employers from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 25.

    Several health screenings, including cardiac and stroke assessments, will also take place, though they may vary from day to day. In addition, nonprofits geared toward the treatment of mental illness, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will be in attendance.

    Click here to learn more about the event.

  • Marian House seeks beef donations

    Mon, July 14, 2014 by Jakob Rodgers with no comments

    James Dixon drives away from the Marian House after picking up a some items for the Catholic Charites of Colorado Springs' outreach program Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. Dixon tries to help people who are trying to get back on their feet with a limited budget. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

    James Dixon drives away from the Marian House after picking up a some items for the Catholic Charites of Colorado Springs’ outreach program Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. Dixon tries to help people who are trying to get back on their feet with a limited budget. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

    The Marian House soup kitchen is asking for help stocking its freezer with ground beef amid a troubling shortage, the facility’s director said Monday.

    The soup kitchen, which uses about 90 pounds of the meat a day for casseroles and other dishes, has had difficulty over the last year getting enough beef for its chefs, said Paul Konecny, the soup kitchen’s director. On average, the Marian House serves about 600 meals a day.

    Anyone interested in donating beef can drop it off from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays on the west side of the facility, 14 W. Bijou St.

    To learn more about how to help, call 719-866-6289.

  • Teen hosts public ride benefitting Children’s Hospital Colorado

    Fri, July 11, 2014 by Jakob Rodgers with no comments

    A teenager with cystic fibrosis is hosting a public training ride on Saturday as part of an effort to raise money for Children’s Hospital Colorado.

    Bryan Warnecke will host a free light breakfast at 8 a.m. before taking off at 9:30 a.m. for a 39.42-mile ride that departs from the hospital’s Briargate Outpatient Specialty Care Center, 4125 Briargate Pkwy. The public is invited to ride along, though bicyclists will be capped at 40.

    The teen raised $70,000 last year by riding in the three-day, 155-mile Courage Classic bike tour, which benefits the hospital. And he did it all despite partially losing function in his right lung.

    He’s aiming to raise more money this year as part of his Pink Lighting Tour, which will span 43 days and 1,065 miles as an additional fundraiser for this year’s Courage Classic. Thus far, it has raised more than $220,000, according to the tour’s website.

    To learn more about Bryan’s tour, visit www.pinklightning.org.

  • El Paso County Public Health interim director named

    Mon, June 30, 2014 by Jakob Rodgers with no comments

    Dan Martindale, courtesy of El Paso County Public Health

    Dan Martindale, courtesy of El Paso County Public Health

    El Paso County Public Health’s deputy director will lead the agency while a permanent replacement of found for its outgoing director.

    Dan Martindale, who has been with the agency for nearly 20 years, will take over as interim director in place of Jill Law, who announced her resignation last week in an email to the agency’s staff. Her resignation is effective July 3.

    Martindale received unanimous support from the El Paso County Board of Health to take the interim post. He has served in several positions with the agency, and holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

    No timetable has been announced for finding a permanent replacement.

  • Collins’ views on homelessness prompt response from fellow council member

    Tue, June 24, 2014 by Jakob Rodgers with no comments

    Helen Collins idea for addressing homelessness across Colorado Springs: Bus tickets and jobs.

    The council member spoke up Tuesday against the city’s 2014 Action Plan for housing and homeless programs — sparking a brief exchange with council woman Jill Gaebler and prompting two audience members to also voice their opinions.

    The exchange began when Collins, who represents District 4, offered her take on homelessness and the action plan.

    “A lot of the homeless, the best way to get rid of the homeless is to give them a bus ticket back to their families,” Collins said. “This isn’t even taken into consideration. It’s like the tax payer has to fund the homeless for housing.”

    “They go into a low income housing area,” Collins continued, referencing her district on the southeast side of Colorado Springs. “They drag it down and then they move on to the next new low income housing facility.

    “I just don’t think that’s right for the taxpayer.”

    She added that the best way to help homeless individuals is to “make them work,” because she feels federally-funded affordable housing programs only enable homeless people to life off taxpayer dollars.

    Her views drew a quick response from Gaebler, who said studies have shown that the most effective way to help homeless individuals is to give them a place to live.

    Many of the city’s homeless people are veterans, she said, and homeless individuals often suffer from mental illness.

    “Just to give them a home is the first step,” Gaebler said. “It’s called Housing First – helping them to figure out what’s going on in their lives, addressing their mental illness, and assessing what they can do to begin their healthy lives.”

    Collins countered that homelessness boils down to a failure of families to take care of their relatives.

    She ended by taking aim at Gaebler’s mention of homeless veterans.

    “I’m a retired veteran – maybe I should get some affordable housing,” Collins said.

    The action plan – which detailed how the city expects to spend millions of dollars in federal grant money on affordable housing and homeless shelter initiatives – passed with the approval of six council members.

    Collins, Joel Miller and Andy Pico all voted against the proposal, though not before two people in the audience spoke up in an apparent response to Collins’ remarks. One of them was Lindsay Deen, who identified herself as homeless.

    “A lot these people have jobs, make money but still cannot afford a place to live,” Deen said.

  • Meetings to unveil initial results of affordable housing study

    Tue, May 27, 2014 by Jakob Rodgers with no comments

    Two meetings will be held Wednesday to announce the preliminary findings of a study on the affordable housing options across El Paso County.

    The assessment marks another step in Mayor Steve Bach’s plan to end homelessness, which he announced in late January. The city also plans to repurpose millions of dollars for more emergency shelter beds, a day center, increased homeless outreach and more affordable housing options.

    Initial results of the Affordable Housing Needs Assessment will be detailed from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, 15 S. 7th St.

    A second meeting will be held from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at the Hillside Community Center, 925 S. Institute St.

  • Traffic near Memorial Hospital Central to be altered while crews replace boilers

    Thu, May 15, 2014 by Jakob Rodgers with no comments

    People traveling new Memorial Hospital Central over the next few days may want to watch out for a few more traffic cones.

    Traffic will be altered while the hospital embarks on a $5-million project to install two new boilers.

    Two lanes of Boulder Street will be closed during the installation, as will Children’s View from Boulder Street to the parking garage, according to a release by Memorial Hospital. Traffic leaving the garage can only turn right onto Boulder Street, and people can only enter the parking garage via a road on the west side of the hospital called Bob Peters Grove.

    Traffic will be affected from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, as well as Monday through Wednesday.

    The boilers, which still work, are being replaced because parts are no longer available for the 41-year-old machines, according to the hospital.