By Noell Wolfgram Evans
Representatives from OhioHealth, Doctors Hospital and the South-Western City Schools (SWCS) District came together to celebrate the current interns of Project SEARCH.
The Dec. 19 mid-year celebration held in Founders Hall at Doctors Hospital was an opportunity for Project SEARCH participants to share the progress they have made on their career planning path.
According to Jennifer Javorsky, the project Search coordinator for the school district, Project SEARCH is a one-year high school transition program which provides training and education leading to employment for individuals with disabilities.
“The goal is for them (the participants) to be able to be competitive in the marketplace,” said Javorsky.
Participants in the program go through three rotations at the hospital, each for a period of 12 weeks. The interns work full days during their rotation. Rotations could include time as a sterile processing technician, dining room host, food order starter/checker, food and nutrition beverage stocking, food preparer, and cashier.
This year’s Project SEARCH participants are seven recent graduates from Franklin Heights High School, Westland High School, Central Crossing High School, Grove City High School, and the South-Western Career Academy. Participants in the program must complete several prerequisites including having just recently graduated from high school.
For the event, each intern created a job board and a slideshow to share some of their experiences in the program.
Jeffrey Cook of Grove City said he has enjoyed the fast pace of his rotation in the kitchen while classmate Caitlyn Stephens, who spent time in food and nutrition, said her favorite part of work was getting to meet new people.
Kalyb Terry and Jackson Gantz, both from the South-Western Career Academy, said their favorite part of the program was getting to know their co-workers. John Howard of Franklin Heights and Adrianna Etgen of Westland both liked meeting people. Luis Lopez of Central Crossing said he enjoyed meeting the different patients and the exercise he received delivering food trays.
“This is a great partnership with South-Western City Schools. We are lucky to have them,” said Michael Reichfield, president of Doctors Hospital.
Christine Moranda, systems manager for disability services at OhioHealth said, “This has been a very engaged group.”
Project SEARCH is a national program that got its start in Cincinnati. Businesses of any size and industry can participate. In 2009, OhioHealth implemented the program at Dublin Methodist Hospital. In 2011, Grady Memorial Hospital became involved and in 2015 Doctors Hospital and SWCS partnered to bring the program to the Westside.
“Every year it gets a little better, people understand it more,” said Moranda. “They start to get into the groove.”