After establishing a medical apprenticeship program and a health careers camp in the region, Kathleen McInnis, executive director of the Southwestern Colorado Area Health Education Center, is resigning.
The education center is a nonprofit, established in 2010, focused on improving the quality of health care and educational programs across eight counties. McInnis has led the organization since 2012 and plans to leave at the end of December. Her replacement has not yet been selected.
Establishing the center’s summer health careers camp has had the greatest impact of the projects she has led, she said.
More than 130 kids from across the eight counties have attended since it was started in 2014, and some of those students have since started their careers in health care, she said.
“We need to grow our own health care workforce and have them be excited about providing health care in our region,” she said.
Inspiring young people from low-income families to pursue degrees in health care can also help them leave poverty, she said.
Under McInnis’ leadership, the nonprofit worked with health care employers in the area to establish a medical assistant apprenticeship program to help fill a need in the region’s labor pool. The program was recently recognized at a 2018 Celebration of Excellence in Apprenticeship hosted by state labor agencies.
In her position, she also advocated to improve health care and health care education on statewide and regional boards.
The nonprofit has also refined its continuing education offerings to focus on the region’s biggest health needs, including diabetes, suicide prevention and opioid medication abuse, she said.
After leaving the nonprofit, McInnis said she plans to continue working part-time from home and spend more time with her family and traveling.