Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Brining a smile to her job

By Will Bublitz

Hard working, dedicated and caring are the best words that describe Alicia Aguilar who is one of the key administrative managers at Peak Vista Community Health Center in Limon.

“Everything we do here at Peak Vista is for the patients,” she said. “My job is to give the support needed to our staff so that they better care for our patients.”

Alicia has worked as the Dental Clinic Team Manager since July 2014. Her job involves the administrative functioning of Peak Vista’s four eastern dental clinics in Limon, Flagler, Kiowa and Strasburg.

In addition to those duties, Alicia also had to take over the administrative duties for Peak Vista’s medical clinics after their former Team Manager was transferred to another position a few months ago.

“Since then, she and I have been working together on it,” she said. “What’s helpful is that I’m not alone in this. I’ve had a lot of help.”

Handling the administration duties for several medical and dental clinics requires a lot of effort and persistence. On the day of this interview, Alicia’s desk was piled high with folders and order forms that she was working on.

“Today, I’m handling orders for lab supplies, mileage reimbursement forms from staff members, requests for the inspection of X-ray equipment, staffing calendars and the scheduling of training sessions,” she said. I handle orders for everything from pens to major pieces of medical and dental equipment.”

Alicia admits that things can be a bit hectic at times with all of her responsibilities, but she has been handling the stress pretty well.

“This morning, the dental assistant said she needed to test one of the blood pressure monitors, so they hooked me up,” she said. “It turned out my blood pressure was low, which surprised everyone. We all had a good laugh about that.”

Despite the demanding nature of her work, Alicia said she likes what she does.

“I enjoy the work because it’s what I call the feel-good paycheck,” she said. “By that I mean it feels good to help someone. When a patient that you’ve helped comes back and thanks you, it feels good. That’s feel-good paycheck.”

Alicia is getting some relief from the heavy load of work of the past few months. Starting Monday, May 18, she takes over her new position as the Medical Clinic Team Manager for Peak Vista’s Community Health Centers in Limon and Kiowa. 

“I’ll be responsible for only those two medical clinics from now on,” she said. “Over the past few months, I’ve been able to juggle a lot of different things only because we’ve all worked together to get the job done.”

While she really loves it now, Alicia admits that working for Peak Vista and living in Limon only came about in a very round-about way. Born in Saugus, Calif., she spent most of her childhood in Arizona where her family moved when she was only a few months old. She has two siblings, a brother who currently lives in Las Vegas, Nev. and a sister who now resides in Tucson, Ariz.

“We first lived in Bisbee, Ariz. where I attended elementary school through the fifth grade,” she said.
 “Then we moved to Douglas, Ariz. in the southeastern part of the state where I went through junior high and high school.”

A couple of years after graduating from high school, Alicia decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1994. She was trained as a helicopter mechanic and worked in that specialty for four years.

During her military service, Alicia met her future husband, Louie Aguilar, who was also a Marine. They were married in 1995.

When her enlistment ended in 1998, Alicia was hired by the Raytheon Company, which is a major American defense contractor. She went to work as a helicopter mechanic servicing military helicopters first at a U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina. She was later transferred to the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in California where she worked on F-18 fighter jets.

“After about a year, I had to quit because my husband who was still an active-duty Marine had been transferred to Yuma, Ariz.,” she said. “After we moved to Yuma, I became an aircraft mechanic working on medical transport airplanes operated by Sun Care Air Ambulance. I worked for that company for four years.”

After her husband Louie completed his military service, they moved to his hometown, Silver City, N.M. where he went to work for Tri-State Generation & Transmission Inc.

“After moving to Silver City, I became an instructor teaching GED and ESL classes at Western New Mexico University,” she said. “I also worked as a substitute teacher at the high school in Silver City for four years.”

When Tri-State decided to transfer Louie to Colorado, Alicia and their children moved with him to Burlington.

“After we moved to Burlington, I mostly stayed home to take care of our young kids,” she said. “But later, I worked for a short time as a welder at a metal fabrication company, as well as working for an insurance company.”

After two years in Burlington, Alicia and Louie decided to make a radical change in their lifestyle. They sold everything and moved their entire family to Hawaii.

“Each of us arrived in Hawaii with only three suitcases apiece,” she said. “Louie went to work and I stayed home with the children at first. Then I got a job at Hickam Air Force Base working in their housing units.”

After two years in Hawaii, one of their sons developed health problems due to the tropical climate. As a result, they were forced to return to the mainland.

“Louie contacted his old company Tri-State and they had a position for him here in Colorado,” Alicia said. “So we moved to Limon in 2013. I applied at Peak Vista and was hired in January 2014 as a receptionist. Although it was below my skill set, I took it to get my foot in the door.”

Peak Vista’s administrators quickly recognized Alicia’s abilities and promoted her to the Dental Clinic Team Manager position last July. 

Alicia said she is not only happy with the work that she is doing, but also with the fact that her family now lives in Limon.

“This is such a good community,” she said. “We really feel at home here. Everyone is so open and giving.”

One of the things that makes Alicia and Louie happiest is that their four children – Levi, 17; Woody, 14; Nanen, 12; and Roslyn, 9 – are all thriving here in Limon.

“We’re into their sports,” she said. “Both of my sons are wrestlers. My girls will be doing softball this summer. This is a good place for them to grow up.”

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