SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Missouri woman with Down syndrome has been hired at a hospital through a program that aims to find paid employment for people with developmental disabilities.

Tabby Hedgcorth, 24, is a dishwasher at Cox Medical Center in Springfield. Hedgcorth said her job makes her happy, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

“I like to wash dishes,” she said with a smile. “I did good.”

Hedgcorth initially worked in the hospital’s kitchen under the supervision of job coach Lisa Rowland of the Developmental Center of the Ozarks’ employment services program. Rowland taught Hedgcorth and others from the center how to work according to the hospital’s standards while taking into account their special needs or disabilities.

“I talk to (Hedgcorth) about the tasks, about policies and rules,” Rowland said. “We cover customer service skills, any type of soft skills.”

The goal of the program is to teach participants how to excel as employees and eventually find paying jobs.

Hedgcorth did so well under the program that the hospital offered her a position. She now works two days a week as a paid employee and a few extra hours as a volunteer. Rowland said Hedgcorth is known at the hospital for her strong work ethic.

“I don’t think anybody in this hospital could ever say that Tabby was standing still with her hands on her hips,” she said. “She is always going.”

The partnership between the hospital and the program is a few years old and working out well, said Jesse Baedke, the hospital’s manager of food services.

Hedgcorth “has the most natural support in this hospital, from the top all the way down,” said Deborah Hedgcorth, Tabby’s mother. “From nurses and doctors and the helicopter pilots to transporters to everybody. They love Tabby and they support her in so many ways.”


Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com