Bon Secours today recognized five Southeastern Cooperative Education Program (SECEP) seniors with autism, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities at Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center for their completion of Project SEARCH, a national school-to-work program. Project SEARCH provides hands-on training to students with disabilities through internships at health care facilities and other businesses, with a goal of employment upon completion.
Since 2013, Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center has partnered with Project SEARCH, SECEP, Didlake and the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services to operate this employment training program to help students in the Portsmouth area develop work skills. These partners provide funding and instructional support, as well as job coaching and supported employment services to students in the program.
At a celebration event held today, Bon Secours awarded certificates to students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities for completion of nine-month Project SEARCH internships at Maryview Medical Center in Portsmouth. Celebrations are also being held this month at Bon Secours’ other Project SEARCH sites, including Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center in Midlothian, Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond and Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center in Mechanicsville. Maryview Medical Center is the only Project SEARCH site at a Bon Secours facility in Hampton Roads.
Through Project SEARCH, the students are assigned to a Bon Secours hospital in their locality; each student rotates through three hospital departments. Teachers, teaching assistants and job coaches provide them with direct instruction during the rotations, collaborating with hospital department supervisors. Working with hospital supervisors and staff, the students receive hands-on skills training, including stocking supplies, filing, copying, assembling paperwork packets, making deliveries, cleaning, sanitizing equipment, turning over patient rooms and putting together supplies for the nursing units. Each student sets a goal of gaining employment by the end of the school year.
Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center’s partnership with Project SEARCH began in 2013 as part of a VCU research study designed to gather research on examining how to best help youth with autism gain and maintain employment upon graduation. After being proven as highly successful, the program has continued following the completion of the research in 2017. Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center currently employs 10 Project SEARCH graduates in various positions.
With 22 students receiving diplomas this month for the completion of Project SEARCH internships at four Bon Secours sites across Virginia, the health system has awarded a total of 188 diplomas to students with disabilities since 2009.