Leaders from Project SEARCH, New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Jefferson Health and Y.A.L.E. School.

Image courtesy of Jefferson Health – New Jersey

Project SEARCH is an international program that trains young people with developmental disabilities to fill critical entry-level positions in hospitals. Since its inception in 1996, it has grown from a single hospital in Cincinnati to more than 600 sites in 48 states in the U.S., as well as England, Scotland, Ireland and Canada.

One of those sites is Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital in New Jersey, which won an Excellence Outcome Award in July at the 15th Project SEARCH Annual Conference in Baltimore — the fifth time Jefferson Cherry Hill has received that award since it began participating in 2016.

“Typically, more than 75% of the students who finish our internship program go on to be successfully employed,” says Lisa Dutterer, vice president of operations at Jefferson Cherry Hill. “We truly believe that the skill sets that we’re giving these individuals, and what they’re learning while they’re in our program, also helps them be successful and active participants in society.”

Interns at Jefferson Cherry Hill train in a variety of departments, including health information management, patient transport, storeroom, food service, maintenance and environmental services. Jefferson Cherry Hill’s partners in the program include the Y.A.L.E. School, the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities, the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Samost Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Southern New Jersey.