Moffitt Steps Up to Lend a Helping Hand to Adults with Disabilities

Karenne Levy, President/CEO, MacDonald Training Center

MacDonald Training Center respectfully recommends that Cathy Grant, Senior Director of Moffitt Diversity and Moffitt Cancer Center be honored as philanthropists profoundly impacting the Tampa Bay community, making it more inclusive and accepting of all people.

Cathy Grant is the highly effective driving force behind a unique partnership between Moffitt Cancer Center and MacDonald Training Center. Cathy’s own background was diverse, having worked in community outreach with mentoring programs for underserved youth, and in supplier diversity. “I’ve always had an interest in working to make sure that people have opportunities for success,” she says, “regardless of their background, culture or circumstance.” The innovative collaboration was honored with the prestigious “Steps-to Success” Award at the Spring, 2019 North America “Disability Matters” event, recognizing “corporations around the globe that are leading the way in mainstreaming disability in the workforce, the workplace and the marketplace”. The MTC & MCC program was offered as a best-practice case in creating partnerships with community organizations to include people with diverse abilities in the workforce.

The partnership developed as MTC committed to offering elevated post-secondary education leading sectors of the Florida economy, and was developing certificate based training programs in technology, manufacturing and logistics. MTC’s certificate-based courses, combined with personal skills development, work experiences and needed supplemental supports, provide the tools necessary to overcome barriers to career advancement and financial independence.

Moffitt was already an employer of several MTC clients and a source for subject matter expertise as programming in Healthcare and Hospitality was explored. Cathy and a team of subject matter experts from Moffitt helped MTC create and implement a training program for people seeking positions in Environmental Services that incorporated best practices from the Moffitt Cancer Center, patient experience expectations as well as globally recognized GBAC (Global Biorisk Advisory Council) regulations.

Moffitt Cancer Center further stepped up by building out a fully outfitted simulated hospital room on the premises of MTC’s main campus in Tampa. This controlled environment exactly replicates a patient room at Moffitt Cancer Center from bed and furnishings to bathroom. It is a game changer for people with all disabilities who lack real world experience in cleaning, sanitation or customer/patient interactions. The simulated hospital room allows for more comprehensive learning than hectic on-the-floor training, particularly for those with cognitive or sensory challenges making them more sensitive to outside distractions. This is a unique and innovative opportunity for people with disabilities, allowing many individuals who might otherwise remain entry-level workers to develop their skills and ultimately move into higher paid jobs that are part of a real strategy for career advancement. In this lab space, students can practice the industry’s best sanitation techniques, learn the standards for a discharge hospital room cleaning, and understand customer service needs in a healthcare or hospitality setting.

As a result of the global pandemic, the skyrocketing demand for higher levels of sanitizing/disinfecting required for office, retail, restaurant, hotel and healthcare settings presents opportunities for students in the ISSA/Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) Certified Custodial Technician (CCT) and MTC & MCC Environmental Services/Healthcare curricula far beyond the walls of Moffitt Cancer Center. Using the Simulation Room provides a true-to-life experience that is structured for adult learners so that they may find, keep and advance in employment in the health care field.

In a humbling testament to the rigor of the curriculum and the depth of their commitment to this collaboration, Moffitt Cancer Center (MCC) has agreed to waive the six-month work experience requirement for its ES Technician 1 position for MTC graduates with ES program certification. MTC is working to accelerate training to meet the increased demand for employees with these specialized skills.

“I can’t believe I am going to work in a hospital,” says Brian Tallman, who is about to start as a new ES Tech 1 at Moffitt. “My dad works in a hospital in Jacksonville; I never thought that I would be able to work in one too. I love to help people.” Brian enrolled in the MTC/MCC course in May, graduated in July. Brian is getting transportation assistance to get to Moffitt’s campus in Tampa from his grandparents’ home in Riverview where he now lives. His goal is to get an apartment closer to Moffitt.

Projected enrollment in the Environmental Services (ES) courses in the coming year is at a minimum 40 students with disabilities (cognitive, behavioral and/or physical). Two students have just started jobs with Moffitt and two others are in the pipeline. The current class includes 10 individuals who have returned to in person instruction after a year of social isolation. Many of the students were laid off or furloughed during the pandemic. They and all of us at MacDonald Training Center are very grateful to Cathy Grant and Moffitt Cancer Center for their generosity and belief in the abilities of people with disabilities.

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