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Published on June 09, 2020

Riverview School students reach out to thank hospital staff

Riverview Project SEARCH

If you have visited either Cape Cod Hospital or Falmouth Hospital, you’ve likely interacted with interns from the Riverview School Project SEARCH.

You may have been served in the cafeteria, or the pharmacy or even been helped in the ER by one of these student interns.

In 2015, Cape Cod Healthcare began their collaboration with Riverview’s Project SEARCH team. The one-year internship program provides on-the-job training and education, which helps to prepare students for employment. Students who participate in Project SEARCH at the hospitals not only develop job skills, but also self-confidence and self-advocacy skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

The Project SEARCH program is a vocational option for students who are in their last year at GROW (Getting Ready for the Outside World), Riverview School’s post-high school transition program for young adults, ages 17–21.

Founded in 1996 and currently replicated at 300 locations throughout the world, Riverview’s was the first Project SEARCH affiliate in Massachusetts.

Over the past five years, 16 student interns from Riverview have come through yearly at the two Cape hospitals, said Ceci Phelan Stiles, senior manager of human resources communication at Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC). The partnership has benefitted the students as well as hospital staff, she said.

“The response hospital administration and human resources have received from employees and patients have confirmed that this program is and will continue to be a success,” she said. “The success and impact these young men and woman have had across Cape Cod Healthcare has exceeded expectations.”

For now, those successful partnerships between interns and staff will have to wait until next year. This year’s internship program was cut short by COVID-19, which kept the students from finishing their last rotation. To share their appreciation for what Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital have done for them and the rest of the community the students created videos with messages of thanks and “stay safe.” They wanted to be sure the teams at the hospitals knew how much their support was appreciated. This vocational opportunity allowed them to be part of a team and be accepted for who they are, they said in the CCH video and FH video.

Students at Cape Cod Hospital are led by Riverview Special Education Instructor Stefanie Patterson, along with Job Coach Rebecca Wilson, who are always on site to provide initial training and support to managers and mentors during their rotations.

“As compassionate healers and educators, sometimes at a job you lose that focus and get caught up in the day-to-day. But these students and this program bring you back to your center,” Patterson said. “The CCHC staff has made the program a success because of who they are and how they are embracing our students. The staff truly is so amazing here.”