SUMMIT, NJ - Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center received the Employer of the Year Award from the New Jersey chapter of the Association of People Supporting Employment First (NJ APSE) during the Facing the Future 26 Conference on transition and employment. The Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) is the only national organization with an exclusive focus on integrated employment and career advancement opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Overlook was recognized for its role as the employer host of Project SEARCH, a program that helps young adults with disabilities to gain on-the-job experience. Accepting the award for Overlook was MaryPat Sullivan, chief nursing officer for Overlook.

“Atlantic Health System and Overlook Medical Center are so very proud to accept this recognition on behalf of our relationship with Project SEARCH,” said Sullivan.

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In its first year, 2016-17, nine students interned at Overlook, and today, eight of these nine students remain competitively employed, four of whom are employed at Overlook.

“Our first students were not simply interns who worked here - they were quickly embraced by the rest of the Overlook team, who recognized the important skills they could contribute and became part of the Overlook family,” noted Sullivan. “We are pleased to now be working with our second cohort of students who are just as quickly becoming part of the Overlook experience.”

"Many large businesses might balk at the idea of committing to house a year-long job skills training for students with significant disabilities inside their corporation,” said Josh Bornstein, Director of Special Projects at Union County Educational Services Commission, the coordinating educational agency for Project SEARCH.

“By agreeing to host the first Project SEARCH program in New Jersey – and following through and hiring several interns from the first cohort - Overlook Medical Center and Atlantic Health System are making the community healthier,” Bornstein continued. “Overlook has set an example for the rest of the business community. They are demonstrating how leadership and innovative support by the private sector can have a significant impact on positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities."

The Project SEARCH program model was developed at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in 1996.