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Several area students are getting on-the-job experience thanks to a program through the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission who is partnering with Iroquois Memorial Hospital.

Seven students began working at IMH June 8 as student interns and will be working there through Aug. 14.

The students working at IMH this summer are Dalton Clinton, home health and hospice intern; Acelynn Gamino, information systems intern; Dakota Gamino, dietary intern; Zakkaree Stano, hospital information system intern; Shannon Woods, lab intern; Isabell Worstell, patient care unit intern; and Robert Worstell, emergency department intern.

The students have been working with Teri Tincher from the Community Services Division of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission. At the end of the program the students have a work experience internship.

“We’re partnering with her to provide the work experience for her program,” said Tera Bivins of Iroquois Memorial Hospital. “Everyone she’s working with is being placed here at Iroquois Memorial.”

Each student is placed in a different department at the hospital, she said, giving them a different work experience.

“I just think it’s an exciting way for us to partner with our community,” Bivins said. “As the largest employer in the county it’s our responsibility to help the next generation get that work experience and really find their place and their career.”

Tincher said her program is part of the workforce development arm of the CCRPC. “We help people get into the workforce,” she said. “We are government funded. Our main office is based out of Champaign. I operate the satellite office in Iroquois County.”

She said the CCRPC program pays the students. “Our program pays them their wages and then they are supervised on site by Iroquois Memorial,” she said.

“We can place them at a work site and we pay their wages. WE cover workman’s comp. They are supervised by the employer. We can help with mileage reimbursement, uniforms, things like that. Today, we did the polo shirts for IMH. I was excited we got to use B and Company, so we got to help a local business out during this time. That was good.”

The students in this program is for ages 14 to 24. If they are 14 to 16 they have to get a work permit, though Tincher said there are not a lot of participants in that age group.

The students who participate in the program can be out of school or in school, depending on their personal situations. She said they do a lot of work with the local high schools to place students to do janitorial work. “This summer they couldn’t take anybody because of COVID-19, so the hospital stepped up and took at the kids I had,” she said. “They really did a lot of work to get this going.”

Tincher said, too, that the kids are typically enrolled in the program in the fall. There are eligibility requirements. “If they are in school and receive free or reduced lunch that’s a good indicator that they are going to be somebody I can help,” she said. “But I can always look at other options.”

Tincher meets with the students about once a month to build soft skills throughout the year. “I can pay them incentives when they do that, so it’s kind of like they earn that summer placement,” she said.

CCRPC has offices in Champaign, Iroquois, Ford, Piatt and Douglas counties.

Tincher said she has been working remotely since the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.