Jewish Hospital, JFCS partner on productive intern program for local youth

Rabbi Dr. Nadia Siritsky

Even during changes, Jewish Hospital continues to grow and thrive.

The hospital recently welcomed several new and renown physicians to its team. It successfully completed a record number of transplants and it received several national designations. These include the American Heart Association’s Get with the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award, the AHA Mission Lifeline Gold Plus Award, and the AHA Mission Lifeline STEMI Receiving Center Award.

But of all our recent accomplishments, the one that has ignited the most pride and hope for our future has been our partnership with Jewish Family & Career Services (JFCS), and our most recent collaborative project: JFCS received a mini-grant through the Mayor’s SummerWorks to pilot an initiative in partnership with KentuckyOne Health.

The mini-grant will provide a cohort of 10 youths, ages 18-21, with paid summer internships in health care combined with intensive job readiness training, internship support, two-year certification in CPR & Basic Life Support, a mentor, and post-internship employment assistance.

JFCS assisted in recruiting a cohort of eligible youth to participate in a pre-internship program that included job readiness training workshops, introduction to available community resources that can assist with overcoming barriers to employment.

Those barriers include transportation, orientation to careers in healthcare, a mock interview session provided in partnership with Louisville Society for Human Resources healthcare sector volunteers, and a fitting for interview attire by Dress For Success & Dress to Impress Suit Closet (Center for Accessible Living).

The interns will complete their Mayor’s SummerWorks internship with KentuckyOne Health and gain experience in entry level environmental services, patient transport, dietary, or patient care assistant positions.

They will receive ongoing case management and be matched with a mentor in their healthcare career of interest. At the end of the internship, interns may be hired by the KentuckyOne Health or continue to receive employment assistance from JFCS.

Participants are also provided with financial coaching to help them develop budgets based on their employment income, their basic expenses, and any new, work-related expenses such as child care and transportation. Career coaching will focus on continuing to explore health care career options, developing a career plan, identifying steps for advancing along a career pathway and resources to assist for paying for the requisite training and education, as well as learning how to take advantage of the opportunities the current entry-level position offers as an entrée into a career in healthcare.

The participants identified the mentorship component as one of the major appeals of the program. Interns who want a career in medicine were paired with a physician, a career in nursing with a nurse, in physical therapy with a physical therapist. This aspect of the program is a reciprocal blessing, as health care providers have an opportunity to give back, and become re-inspired through their interactions with the next generation of providers.

Maimonides identified as the highest level of tzedakah (righteous charity) as helping those to help themselves. This program does exactly that, while also addressing a larger societal problem: the shortage of health care workers, which affects us all.

Jewish Hospital and JFCS (as well as the JCC) are organizations that were formed at a time when Jews needed religiously specific services they could not find elsewhere, or were not welcome elsewhere. Today, we are blessed to live in a time when Jews are well integrated into society, but this does not mean that these organizations have lost their purpose. We now provide an important avenue for the Jewish community to do tikkun olam (healing and repairing the world). For Jews, this ensures that our religion’s purpose and values feel relevant. For non-Jews, this creates opportunities for encounter with Judaism, which can proactively deter the reoccurrence of anti-Semitism.

The Talmud teaches that if you save one person, you save a whole world. Thanks to this program, lives upon lives and worlds upon worlds will be saved. To provide funding for future collaborations between Jewish Hospital and JFCS, you can contact the Jewish Hospital and St Mary’s Foundation, to donate to the Klempner Fund.

(Rabbi Nadia Siritsky is vice president of mission for KentuckyOne Health.)

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