Housing Hosts Welcome Students Back
At Central Colorado AHEC (CCAHEC), we partner to create and implement educational programs, addressing the dynamic needs of students, providers, and community members. While we have many programs which strive to accomplish our mission, perhaps none get at the core of what CCAHEC stands for like the Student Housing program. For more than a decade, this program has helped to connect health professions students with community members to provide for one of their most important needs: a safe place to live while on clinical rotation. Students are welcomed into the homes of community members who want to help and contribute to their success. Students and hosts alike agree to a set of standards which ensure a safe environment for everyone involved. The program is free or low cost and students from most schools are eligible, pending availability.
“The majority of our hosts wanted to continue helping students and giving back to the community" - Mitch Fittro, Education and Workforce Manager
This year has been one of change and adjustment for all of us. In early March, as the world began to combat the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic, CCAHEC acted quickly to protect students and housing hosts alike. On March 13, we closed our offices and began working from home. During the next week, clinical rotations at all schools in Colorado were suspended. This rapidly developing situation led to 11 students, who were currently placed in housing or arriving soon, having their rotations cancelled. By March 22, the program had ended all current housing agreements. In the following weeks, Mitch Fittro, the Education and Workforce Manager, began working hard on a plan in order to accept students again once schools began opening. Informed by government guidelines, input from the Colorado AHEC Program Office, and AMC, the CCAHEC COVID-19 Infection Guidance for housing was created and approved. The guidance implements policies for symptom monitoring, wearing face masks, and cleaning spaces in accordance with CDC recommendations.
At the end of May, AMC and other schools began allowing students to participate in clinical rotations again. Almost all of our gracious hosts quickly signed new contracts and agreed to comply with the new COVID-19 guidance. Mitch Fittro said, “The majority of our hosts wanted to continue helping students and giving back to the community, even with increased risk. Witnessing the enthusiasm of our hosts has been very encouraging.” While the circumstances which led to the changes we’ve implemented have been difficult, we have used this opportunity to look at our policies and create a safer environment for our students and hosts now and in the future. We are proud to say that the program is currently at capacity and working hard to approve more hosts and make additional housing available for rotations. If you would like to be a host or are a student who needs housing, please visit the site for more information.
We currently serve students in El Paso, Denver, Jefferson, Boulder, Weld, and Teller counties. Over the years, students from states as far away as South Carolina and international students from Germany have traveled to Colorado and had housing provided by the program. The program averages 120 students per year, which is more than 2,500 nights! A large portion of students come from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (AMC), Rocky Vista University, and Red Rocks Community College. They are enrolled in a diverse sampling of health professions programs including pharmacy, physical therapy, nursing, medicine, dentistry, anesthesiology assistant, and physician’s assistant.
You can get firsthand knowledge about being a housing host by reading these housing host interviews: