BOLIVIA, N.C., Jan. 7, 2020 ― Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center has partnered with Project SEARCH to provide internship experience for students ages 18 to 21 with developmental disabilities. The partnership is a collaboration of Novant Health, Brunswick Community College, Brunswick County Schools and the North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
“At Novant Health, we recognize that every person is different, each shaped by unique life experiences,” said Shelbourn Stevens, president of Brunswick Medical Center. “This enables us to better understand each other and our patients. Novant Health, along with the college, school system and state, have dedicated resources and expertise to provide these internships. We are hopeful that by working together, we can truly impact the lives of those in our community by helping students with development disabilities reach their full potential.”
Project SEARCH was developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1996 when the medical center’s emergency department director envisioned training 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. Since its inception, Project SEARCH has grown from a single program site at Cincinnati Children’s to a large and continuously expanding international network of sites. Brunswick Medical Center is one of Project SEARCH’s newest sites.
Project SEARCH’s primary objective is to secure competitive employment for people with disabilities. To reach that goal, the program provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent-living skills to help young people with developmental disabilities make successful transitions to productive adult life. The Project SEARCH model involves an extensive period of skills training and career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching and continuous feedback from teachers, skills trainers and employers.
“We are proud to work with our partners to meet the needs of our students with developmental disabilities. By providing teaching resources on-site at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, we can help successfully transition these students to the workforce,” said Melissa Quinlan, executive director of exceptional children and student support services at Brunswick County Schools.
The program will launch at Brunswick Medical Center in August 2020. Over the next several months, potential Project SEARCH students within Brunswick County Schools can apply to join the program. Each student will be required to pass a skills assessment evaluation and participate in an interview as part of the process. Once accepted into the program, student interns will report to Brunswick Medical Center instead of their classroom for the entire school year. Student interns will rotate through a number of job roles at the hospital.
Brunswick Interagency Program (BIP), located at Brunswick Community College, will provide the skills trainer for the program, and once the internships are complete, the job coach.
“Brunswick Community College has a long history of workforce training,” said Dr. Gene Smith, president of Brunswick Community College. “Our BIP program, which is housed on campus, has been providing services for adults with intellectual disabilities for many years. This is a natural extension of that program.”
The North Carolina Department of Vocational Rehabilitation will provide staff and funding in support of Project Search each year, with the overall goal being to promote employment and independence for the participants. “We are very excited to be a part of such a great opportunity for the students we work with as well as thankful for each partner’s hard work and willingness to work together to create this opportunity,” said Robbie Benton, unit manager of the Wilmington Vocational Rehabilitation Unit.
About Novant Health
Novant Health is a not-for-profit integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient facilities and hospitals that delivers a seamless and convenient healthcare experience to communities in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. The Novant Health network consists of more than 1,600 physicians and over 28,000 employees that provide care at over 640 locations, including 15 hospitals and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics. In 2019, Forbes ranked the organization first in North Carolina and 38th nationally on its 2019 Best Employers for Diversity list. Novant Health provided more than $883 million in community benefit, including financial assistance and services, in 2018.