From training to recruiting, Aurora campus partnership gives med center a leg up

Joyce Benson-Fox, director of CCA’s Center for Workforce Development, said the program, which started in the spring, could not have come together without the help of Community-Campus Partnership, which fosters collaborations and healthy communities around the Anschutz Medical Campus.

AURORA | It’s been almost a year since Sondang Liberatore, from Indonesia, took a class that helps students pass the United States citizenship test at the Community College of Aurora’s Lowry Campus.

Liberatore, who passed her citizenship test last December, is now hoping to put her newly minted citizenship to use with another course offered through CCA’s adult education programs.

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Valerie Gantzler, instructor for the 10-week Adult Learning Healthcare Bridge Project, helps Juan Castillo on Tuesday July 21, 2015 at Community College of Aurora Lowry Campus. The program trains people with a GED, people working toward a GED and others in one of two career paths: sterile processing and patient navigation.Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Sondang Liberatore works at the computer during the 10-week Adult Learning Healthcare Bridge Project last Tuesday at the Lowry Campus of Community College of Aurora. The program trains people with a GED, people working toward a GED and others in one of two career paths: sterile processing and patient navigation. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

This time, she’s taking a 10-week adult healthcare training program for people with a GED and those working toward a GED. The program gives students the skills to get a job in one of two career paths: sterile processing and patient navigation.

“It’s not because I don’t like my job right now, but I want to excel,” said Liberatore, who is a certified nursing assistant. She said she hopes to get a job in sterile processing at one of the hospitals located on the Anschutz Medical Campus

Joyce Benson-Fox, director of CCA’s Center for Workforce Development, said the program, which started in the spring, could not have come together without the help of Community-Campus Partnership, which fosters collaborations and healthy communities around the Anschutz Medical Campus.

“Their role is really to work with the employers,” she said of the Community-Campus Partnership. “The (Anschutz) hospitals get probably 100 to 500 applications for each job. We send the students’ résumés when they’re finished to the Community-Campus Partnership, who take them to a hiring manager or a specific recruiter for that job. It gives our people at least a little more attention.”

It’s been over a year since Robert McGranaghan, who works with the CU Department of Family Medicine, started the campus partnership. McGranaghan said much of the work the partnership does is behind the scenes.

“We’re not offering jobs to people. … But we’re hoping through recruitment efforts, we can help people become more interview ready,” he explained. 

“It’s not because I don’t like my job right now, but I want to excel,” said Liberatore, who is a certified nursing assistant. She said she hopes to get a job in sterile processing at one of the hospitals located on the Anschutz Medical Campus

Today, the Anschutz Medical Campus includes Children’s Hospital of Colorado, University of Colorado Hospital, University Physicians, Inc. and the University of Colorado’s health science academic programs and research centers. But with nearly 16,000 people employed on the Anschutz Campus, fewer than three percent of those are residents from the surrounding area.

North Aurora residents in neighborhoods immediately surrounding the campus — particularly those living in ZIP codes 80010 and 80011 — are largely low-income and a large percentage of residents in these neighborhoods have not graduated from high school. According to the most recent Census data, almost 30 percent of 80010 residents over age 25 lack a high school diploma or a GED. Residents of 80011 fare only slightly better, according to the same data. 

“Those two jobs (sterile processing and patient services) were selected because Children’s Hospital identified them with jobs that have a high turnover,” McGranaghan said. “We spent most of last year educating ourselves about the employment environment on the campus, which is very complex. By helping employers fill positions they have hard time keeping filled, we’re helping employers increase diversity by hiring from this community.”

Much of what McGranaghan and his small team do is behind the scenes — from regular roundtables and one-on-one meetings with hospital CEOs and staff, to gatherings with city officials and residents who represent North Aurora neighborhoods.

But it all adds up, said Janel Highfill, director of strategic partnerships and resource development with CCA.

“They’re bit by bit helping us untangle the web of working with campus employers. For us to do that on our own, we would be hard-pressed,” she said.

“We’re not offering jobs to people. … But we’re hoping through recruitment efforts, we can help people become more interview ready,” he explained. 

Right now,  Community Campus Partnership  operates out of the Resilience Center on North Peoria Street and 13th Avenue. The building is also home to the Aurora Mental Health Center, the city’s Parks Department, and its library services.

But McGranaghan said the next step for the campus partnership is to look for spaces they could locate in even closer to or potentially on the medical campus.

McGranaghan said the partnership is currently working on a formal “hire local” program for the medical campus. He said the goal of “hire local” would be to increase pipeline opportunities such as the healthcare training course at CCA, that funnel more local residents into entry-level jobs on the medical campus.   

The campus partnership also recently launched a website, com-cam.org, where residents can learn about everything from upcoming city events, to adult education courses offered at  CCA, to hospital research studies. 

In July the Community-Campus Partnership held its quarterly Partnership Authority Meeting at the Aurora Resilience Center. Its members include City of Aurora employees, area nonprofits, neighborhood associations, and leaders from the Anschutz Medical Campus.

“Coming up on the two-year mark, this the largest turnout we’ve had ever,” McGranaghan told the group of nearly 50 people, many who commented they would not otherwise make the time to get together.