Project SEARCH, a one-year high school transition program for 18-21 year olds with intellectual and developmental disabilities, prepares students for competitive employment through classroom instruction and hands-on training within a host business.
“While creating a potential placement for a Project SEARCHstudent at Eastman Dental, we identified tasks and responsibilities associated with transferable job skills in both our Records Room and the Shipping and Receiving area,” explained Lenora Colaruotolo, EIOH senior Social Worker. Working with Project SEARCH staff –employment specialist, Gabrielle Brandenburg, and job coach Cheryl Hamilton– internship job descriptions were developed and Simon Aldrich was hired, received training and provided support and any accommodations needed to help him successfully complete his work at the training site.
Alridch quickly became a familiar face, a dependable worker, and valuable addition. Working with EIOH Lead Medical Files Clerk Desmond Parris, Aldrich spent the majority of his placement time in Medical Records.
His routine included delivering and picking up charts from the various dental clinics, retrieving, sorting, and re-filing records, and working on a large project.
“Simon finished 93% of the 2011 chart purge process,” said Colaruotolo. “He systematically went through all charts in the record room, pulling, sorting, and boxing charts of patients last seen in 2011.”
Once boxed, Aldrich labeled the boxes and completed transmittal sheet forms for shipment and storage at Iron Mountain. “Simon gets right to work and stays really focused on the job,” said Parris. “I’m definitely going to miss him.”
Brandenburg noted that Parris had been an integral part of Aldrich’s success at Eastman Dental.
“Knowing social skills are a challenge for Simon, Desmond went above and beyond to connect with him,” she said. “He went as far as visiting our classroom and encouraged Simon to engage in conversation with him. Desmond has been extremely patient in working with Simon and the rest of the Project SEARCH team. He also had Simon accompany him whenever he moved around the building as a part of his job. He made the effort to introduce Simon to others. We have noticed a growth in Simon in that he is more willing to give eye contact with others and shake their hands, just as he has seen Desmond do. Desmond showed what it means to interact with others as a professional.”
Aldrich also assisted Tom Venner, EIOH Facilities and Contract administrator in Shipping and Receiving with delivering packages to the different clinics.
“Desmond truly exemplifies many of the behaviors we value at EIOH: Excellence, Respect and Compassion,” said Holly Barone, chief administrative officer at Eastman. “Not only did Desmond go above and beyond in his role as a mentor to Simon, he did so with kindness and compassion. He should be proud of the positive impact he made on this person’s life.”
So it is with mixed emotions that EIOH celebrates Simon’s recent graduation from Project SEARCH.
“We will miss his presence and hard work, yet we congratulate him as he prepares to exit high school and seek full time employment,” Colaruotolo added.
Simon intends to apply for a position with Patient Accounts at Strong Memorial Hospital, where he was an intern earlier in the school year.
Thank you Simon, for lightening our load and for all that you accomplished at Eastman Dental!