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New Focus on Local Workforce Development for East Region

February 21, 2023

A strategic focus on developing relationships with eastern Connecticut’s community organizations and schools will hopefully result in a robust pipeline of potential employees for the full range of job opportunities in the East Region.

Carley Warzecha was recently named manager of Workforce Development and Volunteer Services for the East Region. She worked previously with the patient experience and patient advocacy teams, and has been with the system since 2019.

The workforce development component of the position means that Warzecha will help meet the needs of Backus and Windham hospitals as well as Hartford HealthCare overall by creating a pipeline of opportunity for individuals in the community.

This initiative includes working with community organizations such as United Way and Norwich Youth and Family Services as well as area high schools and colleges. It will even include younger people, as she has already set up a career day event at Stonington Middle School for sixth graders to learn about non-college careers in healthcare.

“The goal is to tap into those young people who want to work in healthcare and let them know the wide range of opportunities there are,” she says. “This is an opportunity for us to make a difference.”

Prior to the creation of the workforce development portion of her position, many departments across the East Region were doing their own workforce initiatives, including sending representatives to job fairs and school career days, as well as offering job shadowing. Warzecha is currently in a discovery phase of learning about all the different initiatives, and working to create a robust streamlined program.

Reaching out to community organizations, Warzecha is asking “How can Hartford HealthCare help you? What can we offer? And then we ask ourselves, how can this benefit HHC? People think working in healthcare just means doctors, nurses, APRNs, but it’s a whole host of jobs. It takes a village to run a hospital, and each component is equally as important.”

In collaboration with human resources, she has just launched a high school internship program with students from Montville and Waterford high schools. Students are spending this term in finance, surgical services, the lab, and oncology.

The well-established Summer Junior Volunteer Bridge Program at Backus is being revamped to help participants get a better idea of where their interests might lie. Warzecha is planning a series of “rotations” during the first half of the summer, so the kids “get to see all the different parts of what happens in the hospital every day. So they will spend time helping with wayfinding, then in the emergency department, then surgical services, and so on. Hopefully in the second half, when they do job shadowing, this will help them make better choices of where they want to be. This should enhance the quality of their experience and give them great exposure to opportunities.”

Warzecha is working with higher ed organizations to consider changes to their programs to ensure students are “hospital ready” upon graduation. She is also working with area tech high schools to provide guest speakers and job shadow opportunities for students in our organizations.

And she is working closely with the Eastern CT HealthCare Regional Sector Partnership task force, co-chaired by Donna Handley, president of HHC’s East Region, to ensure that the pipeline she is working to build will feed into the areas of need for healthcare organizations across Eastern Connecticut.

“It’s really exciting to strategize where the needs are within our organization,” she says. “It’s proving to be very rewarding to develop new programs that support Backus and Windham Hospitals, as well as the people of our communities.”