Park Ridge Health welcomes first Project SEARCH class

October 31, 2017

Park Ridge Health invites the media to meet the six students from Blue Ridge Community College who make up the intern team in the inaugural Project SEARCH class for the 2017/2018 School Year.

Project SEARCH is a partnership between businesses, school systems, and vocational rehabilitation services. The goal is to provide on-site internship experiences and marketable skill acquisition for young adults with disabilities leading to competitive employment.

Park Ridge Health is the Host Business for this opportunity. We are working in conjunction with Blue Ridge Community College, North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities, Blue Ridge Literacy Council, Vocational Resources, and Transylvania Vocational Services, Inc. to launch this program for families across our communities. The first class will begin with the Blue Ridge Community College 2017 Fall Semester.

The Project SEARCH interns will be working with Park Ridge Health Associates to gain skills in various departments including Materials Management, Medical/Surgery, Nutritional Services, and Human Resources.  The interns will work with representatives from the school systems and job coaches who will ensure the students will understand their tasks and gain confidence to perform their work with efficiency and success.

“The Project SEARCH program allows organizations, like Park Ridge Health, to partner in the training of students who may one day become part of our team of Associates,” said Sharon Campbell, Park Ridge Health Human Resources Director. “It is a win-win because the students develop skill sets to accomplish vital tasks that support the teams caring for our patients.”

“Park Ridge Health is dedicated to whole-person care which includes supporting initiatives that instill confidence and open opportunities for young people looking to succeed,” said Jimm Bunch, Park Ridge Health President and CEO. “Project SEARCH provides the training and support for the interns to become vital team members for Park Ridge Health and other businesses across our community.”

Project SEARCH was developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. In 1996, Erin Rieble, Director of Cincinnati Children’s Emergency Department felt that, because the hospital served individuals with developmental disabilities, it made sense to commit to hiring people in this group. She wondered if it would be possible to train people with developmental disabilities to fill some of the high-turnover, entry level positions in her department, which involved complex and systematic tasks such as stocking supply cabinets. As a starting point, Erin presented her ideas to Susie Rutkowski, then the special education director at Great Oaks Career Campuses. Erin and Susie formed a partnership that was instantaneous, and together they launched Project SEARCH.

Since its inception, Project SEARCH has grown from a single program site at Cincinnati Children’s to over 300 sites across the United States and Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Australia. Project SEARCH’s primary objective is to secure competitive employment for people with disabilities.