OCHRegionalMedicalCenter recently received recognition from the State Department of Rehabilitation for training and employing individuals with disabilities.  The MedicalCenter is one of the local businesses that partners with Ability Works in Starkville to provide real work experience so that those with disabilities may retain employment and possibly live independently.  Sometimes the temporary work experience turns into a full-time job for participants.

            Jessie Hogan was a part of the rehabilitation program when he first came to OCH to gain valuable work experience within the environmental services department. “They made sure I was at work on time, got my job done and got along with other employees,” explained Hogan.   

            “What stood out to me most about Jessie was his humble spirit and excellent work ethic,” recalled Kennedy Neal, environmental services director.  “Whenever he had a question, he would ask me because he wanted to make sure the job was done right,” added Neal. 

            After his trial period at OCH, Hogan was hired as an environmental services tech, and seven years later, Hogan says the job is going great.  “I enjoy the work I do at the hospital and knowing that I’m helping people.  Everyone is really nice and having this job means a lot to me,” said Hogan.

            Starkville Ability Works Facility Manager Marie Portera said there are 17 Ability Works locations throughout the state that function to help people develop good work habits and job skills and eventually find jobs.  “We appreciate the people and businesses like OCH that take on contract workers so that they can get the work experience they need to become valuable employees,” said Portera.  “When we see people like Jessie come through the program and get a job, it makes us feel as though we’re a part of their success story and what we’re doing is making a difference,” she added.      

            Neal said for the past ten years he’s been accepting Ability Works’ contract workers when he has an opening in his department and noted those individuals have been excellent employees.  “When they first come here, some of them feel like they can’t, but they can,” said Neal.  I have a love and passion for those people.  I enjoy taking them under my wing to train them so that they can become productive citizens and give back to the community,” he added.   

            Neal also pointed out that the program aids in building self-esteem for those individuals.  Hogan agreed the job has made him feel good about himself.  “This job has helped me provide for my family and pay my bills, and that’s very important to me,” he said. 


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