Retiree Spotlight: Colleen Foss

By Linda Poynter, Oral Health Program Manager

Do not expect Colleen Foss to spend her time after retirement doing much relaxing.  After March 29, her last day of work as a Senior Clerk, providing support to Clinical Services and Population Health programs. Colleen’s goal is to set up her home office and to jump back into the work force. While Colleen plans to only work part time, she would like to have a “flexible job where I can use my organizational skills and spend more time with clients, patients or consumers.”

Before starting at the Health Department, Colleen worked in customer service and at a factory. After taking some time off to care for her ill mother, she was hired as a front office clerk at the Boone County Health Center in March of 1998. Because she herself had been a WIC recipient in the past and liked the idea of helping people in need, Colleen felt it would be a rewarding position for her. She managed to break the ice with her co-workers on this new job by tipping over backwards in her chair during her first week at her first staff meeting. Colleen made quite the impression that many staff have not forgotten!

After starting in this position, Collen’s husband was diagnosed with cancer and ultimately passed away. These early experiences impressed upon her that you never know what direction your life may unexpectedly take. Colleen feels very strongly that women need to know that they can take care of themselves and their families which is the driving reason behind her need to continue working in some capacity. She is not comfortable with the idea of not earning her own way.

After working at Boone County Health Center for 11 years, Colleen was looking for a change. She made a lateral move into school-based health services based at Medical Village Drive. While the position allowed her to do the same type of clerical work, it also allowed Colleen to use her organizational skills in a different atmosphere. After the closing of school-based services, she worked as a back up in programs such as cancer screening and maternity. In 2010, Colleen added into her position the billing for the oral health program, where she continues at this time.

There have been many changes over the years to the way in which Colleen has done her job. In 2013 she was trained in electronic dental billing, and became very confident in her skills in this area.

“I really felt like I was making a difference to the children of our community, and learned a lot about oral health needs,” she said. “Then just when our electronic records and payments are working extremely well, it is changed on us and we are back to basics. You would think I would know by now that in public health change is constant!”

When she thinks back on her early days in the health centers, what she misses is the chance to interact with the clients. This is why Colleen would love to find work that combines this interaction with her knowledge of billing procedures. She notes that her dream job would be working a few days a week in a dental office where she can expand on her experience in electronic dental records, preferably somewhere that works with the underserved.

After her retirement Colleen would like to do more projects at her church, spend more time with her father, children and grandchildren, and develop her art work projects. She also intends to travel even more with her husband Jeff on hiking trips in Pike’s Peak and Jamaica. Health and fitness are an important part of Colleen’s daily life and having some free time will allow her to train for her first half marathon. It looks like Colleen intends to keep on running, whether she is retired or not!

Colleen, we all thank you for your service and your kindness!