Hospital celebrations job training program for disabled adults

Chris Thomas

Community Hospital in Grand Junction celebrated the implementation of a program to provide more employment opportunities for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to support our community, and that includes fostering young talent,” said Chris Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Community Hospital. “It’s an honor to trailblaze this program on the Western Slope and help prepare students for future success.”

Project SEARCH offers internship experiences in various hospital departments. Interns participate in two full semesters of rotations as well as onsite training in such topics as financial literacy, self-advocacy, team building, technology and workplace safety.

The program provides career development and internship opportunities to young adults ages 18 to 21 with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Participants work with a team that includes instructors as well as local and state agencies and their families. The goal is to secure employment for every participant.

Community Hospital is one of only nine sites for Project SEARCH in Colorado and the only site on the Western Slope. Community Hospital collaborates with Mesa County School District 51, Mesa County Workforce Center and STRiVe as well as the Colorado  Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

“Project SEARCH has addressed a significant need in our community, and we are extremely proud of our team at Community Hospital for stepping up to the plate,” said Christina O’Dell, director of volunteer services for Community Hospital. “This year we have five interns participating in the program and anticipate doubling the program size in the 2024-2025 school year.”