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From Project SEARCH to Full-Time Employment

Dan Web Photo


“He’s the hardest working man in the hospital, there’s no doubt.” This is a typical remark made by the employees at Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) when they talk about Dan Laughton.

Dan is a 2014 graduate of Project SEARCH. This is a collaborative program between the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Health Services and Easter Seals SE Wisconsin. Through internships with our two business partners, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Pro HealthCare - Waukesha Memorial Hospital, the program builds marketable, transferable and competitive skills in young adults with the goal of employment.

“My friends and teachers had been telling me about it,” said Dan, when asked how he first heard of the program. “So my mom, dad and I went on a tour.” That led to Dan being accepted at Children’s Hospital and working in three very different internships over the next nine months.

“I worked in Environmental Services (EVS), Respiratory Care Services and Nutrition Services. My favorite part of Project SEARCH was working in Respiratory Care Services and EVS. I liked Respiratory Care Services because I was good at sanitizing the equipment, and EVS because I liked dusting the lobbies and hallways and taking out the trash. I worked mostly on my own but I was also part of a bigger team, which I liked.”

It was Dan’s first rotation in EVS that caught the attention of supervisor Matt Mieling. “Dan started out working in the hospital on a team of three, but excelled quickly and was able to work independently. He would not miss a step. He was thorough, kept busy, and he got along with everyone. He was an all-around outstanding worker.” Matt and Children’s EVS Director Frank Zamudio were so confident in Dan’s skills and work performance, they offered to hire Dan part-time after he completed his rotation with them, a mere 3 months into the 9 month Project SEARCH program! “We would still hire him in a second,” Matt said.

Dan was thrilled to be offered the job at Children’s but was looking for work a bit closer to his home so he applied for a similar part-time position with Froedtert CMH in Menomonee Falls. His current supervisor, Ed Deutsch, is at no loss for words when speaking about Dan’s progress and success at CMH: “Dan is an excellent worker-he just goes non-stop! He is fantastic. He has so much energy and definitely does the work of two employees.” So it came as no surprise that when a benefits-eligible, full-time EVS position opened up at CMH, Dan was chosen to fill it, just two months after he was hired. When asked about his favorite part of the job, Dan replied, “I like the trash runs-when the trash comes, I just take it! I’m a quick person!” And one would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the hospital who disagrees.

Dan continually receives positive feedback on his efficiency, speed, and attitude toward others in the workplace from his fellow team members, his supervisors, and other employees throughout the hospital. “I would say everything is going well, we’re doing pretty good here,” Dan offers. And to be sure, when shouts of, “You have to be fast to keep up with that guy!” are heard throughout the hallways, there is no doubt that it’s true.

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