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Straight Talk
A weekly update from management on the issues that matter most.

Oct 11, 2018
The mutually beneficial relationship between Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) and NCH to serve everyone, including young high school graduates with special educational needs, continues to thrive. Project Search, our latest educational initiative, is exceeding expectations, giving the first six interns a purposeful work experience at the Baker Hospital Campus. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, our NCH mentor volunteers and CCPS teacher/supervisors are as enthused about and proud of the program as are the student-interns.

NCH Nurse Residency and Transition Manager Lisa Fletcher welcomed CCPS Special Education teachers Nicole Cholka and Ruth Karaczun who mentor our six new interns.  As was explained to me, Project Search was started in 1996 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and now has 500 locations.  We are the first in Collier County.  Appropriately selected high school graduates undergo a skills assessment process and interview, while the welcoming institution (in this case NCH) finds areas of needs.  The match is made and intensive on-the-job training begins, transitioning these interns into diligent, conscientious, enthusiastic, reliable colleagues.   


Our student interns safely take public transportation independently, having been monitored at the beginning of the school year.  Classroom time at the beginning and end of their work day is used to review job and other appropriate life skills.  I visited our interns, going to some locations that were “firsts” for me even after eighteen years as an administrator.


Caleb Caldwell was busy in Central Supply selecting inventory to replenish nursing supplies.  Caleb also rejuvenates our isolation carts, helping to prevent infections.  Chris Piper, NCH Central Supply Supervisor, and his colleagues including Director of Supply Chain Matt Stacell beamed with pride as Caleb showed his competence. 


Sophie Metelus was busy stocking linen carts—a perfect fit because Sophie likes things neat and orderly.  Linen Supervisor David Benner and his team admire Sophie’s attention to detail, as each cart when filled weighs a few hundred pounds and has many items from washcloths to blankets.  We use tons of linen daily.  Stocking and distributing the nutrition cart under the supervision of Transportation Director Jonathan Webb was scheduled later in the day for Sophie.


Jonatan Figueroa was in our mail room showing how the automated postage meter works and shared how he had memorized his 52-stop mail route winding through multiple buildings.  Mail room/copy center Debbie Forges smiled brightly as Jonatan demonstrated our process for printing and collating calling cards initially taught by NCH Print Shop Manager Dan Timmer.


Nayeli Lora greets and directs visitors at our front door and helps with deliveries, particularly flowers to patients.  These customer service activities please Nayeli and her mentors, including concierge Peter Fisfis and volunteer Barbara Kepple


Ritz LaRose keeps the front of our busy Baker Campus cafeteria clean and well stocked.  She quickly wipes up any spills throughout our dining areas.  Charles DeMarco restocks package items in the kitchen, makes snack packs for diabetics, and assists on the serving line.  Both Ritz and Charles have gained experience under NCH’s culinary colleagues Chris Miles, Lee Almeida, and Carlos Marrero who lead our tasty and healthy food service that serves over 5,000 meals daily to patients, staff, and public. 


Our interns relate that their parents and friends are proud of their internships and accomplishments.  Having purpose, contributing to society, and helping everyone in our community thrive are noble goals in helping everyone live a longer, happier, and healthier life.


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Allen Weiss, MD

President and CEO

You may contact Dr. Allen Weiss and The NCH Healthcare System by clicking here.