Project Search Interns Find A Home

Contact:Sara Scipioni

Project Search Interns Find A Home

Riverview Medical Center Pilots Project Search High School Transition Program for Students with Disabilities

Chuck Damanski's name plate proudly hangs on the wall of his cubicle in Riverview Medical Center's Health Information Management (HIM) department. As he goes through the stack of test results on his desk, Chuck's concentration is broken for a moment when Carol Sabatini, manager, Medical Records, asks him how his job is going.

"I like having a desk job," Chuck answers with a quick smile before returning to his assignment.

Chuck's 'can do' attitude is what makes Riverview's involvement in the Project Search High School Transition Program such a success. As a partnership with LifeWork, a division of the Educational Collaborations, Inc., Eatontown, the program aims to give high school seniors with disabilities employability skills and hands-on work experience, with the goal of securing a permanent job within Meridian Health or the community.

Since the fall of 2008, Chuck and nine other interns from seven area school districts have worked in departments such as Access Services, Physical Therapy and Food and Nutrition at Riverview Medical Center. Three, 10-week rotations occur during the regular school year.

"The length of the program helps interns to become totally immersed in the job experience resulting in developing better employment skills they can bring to permanent jobs in the future." says Sarah Mullings, Project Search Employment Specialist.

Chuck, who attends Freehold Regional High School, works Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in HIM. A team member prepares his daily workload, and verifies the assignment after Chuck completes it. "Our interns are very aware about how important all of the patient information is, and they take their jobs very seriously," says Carol.

The interns' orientation to Riverview includes attending "Beginnings," just as all other Meridian Health Team Members, followed by classroom training with a Project Search instructor, Amy Ilaria, who covers employment skills. Job coaches follow the interns' progress through the rotations, and also serve as resources to the managers participating in the program.

Beth Mulroy, Human Resources Generalist, explains that each intern prepares a resume and interviews with a prospective department manager to determine if he or she would be a good 'fit' in the department. Carol was only too happy to participate in Project Search, having been involved in similar internship programs prior to joining Meridian.

"Chuck as been welcomed by our team members, and really became part of the department," she adds. "They participate in our meetings, discussions and our celebrations."

Project Search will expand to Jersey Shore University Medical Center and Ocean Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center's sister hospitals, in Fall 2009.

Riverview Medical Center, a member of the Meridian Health Family, is a non-profit community hospital located in Red Bank, New Jersey, providing health care programs and services in all major medical disciplines, including maternity; oncology; orthopedics and rehabilitation; general, neuro, thoracic and vascular surgery; cardiology; renal dialysis; diabetes management; and emergency and critical care services. Riverview's Booker Cancer Center is an affiliate of the renowned Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, and Riverview is home to the only fully accredited acute comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation center in Monmouth County. In addition, its Women & Children's Pavilion maintains one of the largest numbers of births in Monmouth County. For more information about Riverview Medical Center and Meridian Health, please call the Meridian Health Line at 1-800-560-9990 or visit