Celina Sanchez, a Project SEARCH intern working at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, has made a positive impact on those with whom she works and all those around her. So much so, that she is the first Project SEARCH intern to receive the Banner – UMC “Be Bold, Be Kind, Be Awesome Award” for exceptional performance.
Sanchez is expceptional in the way she exudes a genuine interest, warmth and enthusiasm for her work and for those around her.
“Everybody loves Celina,” said Lisa Purvis, RN, who supervised and mentored Celina’s rotation on the cardiothoracic unit at Banner – UMC Tucson. “Our patients and their families regularly tell me that Celina is friendly, hard working and helpful.”
Project SEARCH is a program of the University of Arizona Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities, which is housed within the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine.
Originally developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Project SEARCH now is an international program using best practices to prepare high school youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities for competitive, integrated employment and full community inclusion. The UA Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities launched its Project SEARCH program at UMC in 2009. The program provides young people with disabilities quality unpaid internships for hands-on training and career development.
“Over the years, we’ve welcomed many Project SEARCH interns at both our hospitals. Their presence has enriched our workplace, and we have been privileged to offer employment to a number of these interns upon their Project SEARCH graduation,” said Sarah Frost, interim CEO for Banner – UMC Tucson and South.
“Banner is the perfect host business for our program, Project SEARCH at Banner – UMC, because of its welcoming environment and willingness to hire interns,” said Laura Schweers, Arizona Project SEARCH coordinator for the UA Sonoran Center. “In addition to providing valuable training opportunities, Banner currently employs twenty-four program graduates across its two campuses.”
While working on the cardiothoracic unit on a nursing rotation, Sanchez organized and stocked blood trays, stocked the tray-carts, delivered newspapers to patients, helped keep the unit clean and more.
“I really like this program,” said Sanchez. “It helps me learn more skills, and the people I work with are great—especially nurse Lisa—and the patients are awesome and really nice to me.”
Sanchez completed additional rotations with the culinary and nutrition services department at Banner – UMC, and was mentored by Blake Ingledue, senior culinary manager. She worked on the patient tray line service, taking inventory of products, stocking and putting together trays.
“It wasn’t what Celina physically did that made her so valuable, it was the positive energy that she conveyed, and everyone around her felt it,” said Ingledue. “It really helped the team see things from a different prospective and realize what was truly important: providing the best possible service to our patients and treating others with dignity, respect, kindness and compassion. Celina is a natural reflection of Banner’s mission and values.”
On June 6, Celina completes the Project SEARCH internship, and Banner – UMC Tucson is planning to offer her a position.
“I would really like to work in the kitchen at Banner – UMC,” said Sanchez.
“Celina’s experience as a Project SEARCH intern at Banner – UMC Tucson exemplifies how, by working together, the UA and Banner help individuals with developmental disabilities train for and find meaningful employment,” said Myra Muramoto, MD, MPH, chair of the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine. “We are very proud of Celina and all the Project SEARCH interns.”
Additional agencies that are critical to the success of Project SEARCH at Banner – UMC include SAGE Employment Services, Easter Seals Blake Foundation (SAGE/ESBF), Pima County Joint Techinial Education District (JTED) and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).
“All of these agencies working together make it possible for us to help high school students in transition and young adults with disabilities learn the skills needed to find meaningful employment that aligns with their goals,” said Schweers.
About the UA Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities
The UA Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities works to ensure that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have the support they need to fully take part in the life of our community. Established in 2006, the center focuses on the issues of health, wellness and competent treatment for adults with developmental disabilities; concern of aging caregivers and people with developmental disabilities as they age; employment barriers for youth and young adults with developmental disabilities; and the complex questions of support and services in the Arizona-Mexico border region.
About the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine
The UA Department of Family and Community Medicine at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson is one of the top-ranking family medicine programs in the country. The department is known for outstanding pre- and post-doctoral education, ground-breaking research, and innovative community outreach programs designed to improve the health of individuals, families and communities in the region and beyond. The department places strong emphasis on research, particularly in the fields of tobacco cessation, substance abuse, obesity and related diseases, cancer survivorship, behavioral health and disabilities. In collaboration with the UA Department of Psychiatry, the department opened the Banner – University Medicine Whole Health Clinic, an integrative care clinic for patients living with serious mental illness, putting the department at the forefront of behavioral health care.
About Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and South
Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center South are part of Banner – University Medicine, a premier academic medical network. These institutions are the primary teaching hospitals for the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. Included on the two campuses are many specialty clinics. The two hospitals are part of Arizona-based Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health-care systems in the country. Banner Health is in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit BannerHealth.com/UniversityTucson or bannerhealth.com/UniversitySouth