Young adults with disabilities transition to work roles
Five interns with Project SEARCH, a program for young adults with disabilities, gained valuable work experience over the past year at Parma Community General Hospital. From cleaning patient rooms and delivering specimens for the Cardiac Catheterization Lab to stocking medicines in the Pharmacy and selling coffee from the Healing Grounds mobile coffee cart, these students learned that there are many ways to serve the public in a community hospital.
Project SEARCH, a partnership between business, education and vocational rehabilitation, places young adults ages 18-21 in internships during their last year of high school. The program – which began in 1996 and has been replicated with private and public employers at over 140 sites in 42 states, as well as the United Kingdom and Australia – provides skills training and work experience for young adults with disabilities. Students experience immersion in the workplace and work toward a goal of competitive employment after graduation.
“We couldn't have asked for a better host business than Parma Hospital,” said Laura Crandall, Project SEARCH instructor for the Parma City School District. “They have welcomed Project SEARCH and have made us feel like part of the community. Thirteen different departments have hosted interns this year, allowing them to experience full inclusion in the workplace. Our interns learned numerous skills that will help them gain employment and they will never forget their experiences here at the hospital."
Nicole Caliendo of North Royalton was among the five interns who graduate June 1 after working at Parma Hospital since August 2010. Caliendo worked in both Medical Records and Radiology, handling a variety of duties such as scanning and delivering X-rays to Surgery, preparing mailings and filing.
“I really enjoyed being in Project Search,” said Caliendo. “It’s giving us experience for a job. Working in Parma Hospital is really nice. Everyone is friendly, and they love us.”
Andrea Sack, Parma Hospital’s director of Volunteer Services who serves as a liaison for Project SEARCH, said they have received very positive feedback on the success of this partnership.
“Our management team has welcomed our students into a variety of areas with the purpose of teaching them marketable skills,” Sack said. “Our goal is to provide access to hiring opportunities for our interns who are appropriate for internal job openings. They have been pleased with the response they have received from our staff, who value their contributions.”
Project SEARCH model is a collaborative partnership. The Ohio Rehabilitation Services Coalition funds the job coaching and development through United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Greater Cleveland. The Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities provides continuing services upon graduation.
About Parma Community General Hospital: In 2011, Parma Hospital celebrates its 50th year of providing excellent, personalized care. The Hospital was founded by the six communities of Parma, Parma Heights, North Royalton, Seven Hills, Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights to meet a growing demand for hospital beds in the rapidly growing southwestern suburbs of Cleveland. Parma Hospital now has a medical staff of 500 members in more than 30 specialties, as well as 2,000 employees and 400 volunteers. The Hospital has been recognized as one of the 20 Best Community Hospitals in the country and has received national acclaim for its orthopedics quality, its cardiovascular outcomes and patient safety. The Joint Commission has accredited the Hospital’s Stroke Center and its Joint Camp orthopedic program. Outpatient facilities are located in Broadview Heights, North Royalton and Brooklyn. Its third Community Express Care clinic, joining those already established in Olmsted Falls and Independence, opens this summer in Parma Heights.