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Health Excellence Academic Leadership (HEAL)


    Heal8When you live in a neighborhood with some of the nation’s highest rates of homicide, gang activity, school failure, violent crime, and poverty, you’re statistically less likely to have access to good healthcare and even less likely to pursue a healthcare career. In 2014, 11.6% of all students in the state of California dropped-out of high school. Those numbers are even higher for some minorities with dropout rates averaging 20.3% for African Americans, 18.9% for American Indians, and 14% for Hispanics.  Part of these rates could be related to the fact that these children aren’t getting their share of academic and life skills support, and sadly, the opportunity for academic stability that can pave the way to a rewarding career is elusive.

    Which is why Alameda Health System (AHS) partnered with Alameda County in 1991 to start a career program that would give these kids the tools they need to succeed amongst all the challenges they face; continuing our mission toTeach and Serve All.

    The HEAL Program has taught me to reach for my goals and be inspired and love what I do.

    ~Kayla Fong

    One of the highlights of the internship was being able to experience the different professions in the medical field.

    ~Berenize Padilla-Ortiz

    One of my favorite parts of the internship was meeting past students, like Yesenia Hernandez, who was kind hearted.

    ~Edgar Garibay

    The HEAL (Health Excellence Academic Leadership) Program works with approximately 150, 14-24 year olds each year and exposes them to work and life within a healthcare system as well as to the Program’s core values: Health Education, Wellness, Excellence, and Inspiration. The HEAL Program introduces a variety of health professions, enhances self-awareness, encourages a positive relationship between youth and adults through a hands-on approach, and operates as a stepping stone in their educational and professional development.

    Students complete 1 of 8 rotations in Pediatrics Out-Patient, Women’s Medicine, Med/Surg, Respiratory, Dental, Specialty Clinics, Central Supply, and Radiology. Within the rotation students are given enriching opportunities such as classroom training, hands-on clinical experience, mentoring, life coaching, and financial assistance in the form of paid internships. What the students receive from their efforts are career plans and goals, up-to-date health workplace skills, a network of health care professionals from doctors, to nurses, to administrators, to executive leadership and access to HEAL’s partnerships with community-based organizations that can further enhance their career opportunities, skills and knowledge.

    Today the HEAL program operates as a community outreach effort of the Alameda Health System Foundation in partnership with AHS and Oakland Unified School District. Not only does it give our community’s youth an opportunity to prosper but it also creates a pipeline for AHS to develop a future workforce, one that reflects our patient population, our community, and is culturally sensitive.

    The HEAL Program was such a great experience and if anyone is offered this opportunity, take it!!!

    ~Andres Rivera

    The HEAL Program was an amazing experience for me and opened my eyes to other health fields

    ~Angel Montenegro

    Just this past October, HEAL graduated eighteen 8th grade students. One of the highlights for these students was being able to work with the Central Supply Department at Highland Hospital.

    One of the highlights of my internship was being able to work and socialize with the great people at the hospital.

    ~Mario Castellanos

    Working with the HEAL Students was a great experience for me. As a mother, I was able to make the job fun for the students. Central Supply provides 80% of the supplies for Highland Hospital, so it’s a big job. When working with the students we begin by stocking various IV Solutions and IV tubing which is a mind and hands on type of experience. The students are taught how to work in the Central Supply Unit at Highland Hospital and assist us with everything from filling out orders, organizing supplies, to delivering supplies to the different units. They volunteer for an hour, so they know to come in and get started right away in order to complete the task of the day. I enjoy having an opportunity to show them what I know as a Materials Management Tech II, and look forward to many more opportunities like this.

    ~Polenia Butler, Materials Management Tech II, and Former HEAL Student

    It’s such a wonderful thing that our staff has a hand in making new leaders for our future, Debbie Lee, Supervisor, the kids are treated just like employees from following policies & procedures to adhering to our dress code, to being respectful to staff and patients, to simply not taking things personally and learning how to do a job.  Whatever they learn here, they’ll take somewhere else.

    Since its inception, HEAL has provided 1,000+ paid internships and served 6,000+young people. Many have gone on to graduate college and a number are pursuing health careers right here in their own community. In fact, 5 Years ago Materials Management hired 3 former HEAL students, 2 of whom are still working Central Supply.

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