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Carlos Irizarry, left, and Evelyn Maldonado, Environmental Services supervisors at Moffitt Cancer Center, couldn’t be more proud of Brian Tallman. He joined the department as a tech with the help of MacDonald Training Center.

Photo by: Nick Gould

Brian Tallman takes pride in meticulously sanitizing patient rooms, cleaning nurses stations and removing trash throughout Moffitt Cancer Center. It’s his first hospital job as a member of the Environmental Services team, and he takes his role seriously.

Tallman, 20, credits his training at MacDonald Training Center, which assists adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities with finding stable careers and securing independence. Moffitt partnered with MacDonald in 2017 and currently has two team members on board who have gone through the training.

With my training I would go to MacDonald Training Center to learn what it was like to work in a hospital, and they showed me what to do with Environmental Services.
Brian Tallman, Environmental Services Tech

“With my training I would go to MacDonald Training Center to learn what it was like to work in a hospital, and they showed me what to do with Environmental Services,” Tallman said. “They showed me how it all works and how to clean a discharge room. I thought it was really helpful.”

Tallman joined Moffitt in September 2021 and shortly after was able to move out of his grandmother’s home and into his own apartment. Securing that kind of independence is what MacDonald hopes for all its clients.

“We work with people with all disabilities, physical, intellectual, developmental. We work with everyone,” said Krista Wright, director of MacDonald Training Center’s certificate program. She has been guiding the program and partnership with Moffitt since day one and credits Moffitt’s “all in” approach with the success of the program.

A Unique Partnership

When Moffitt and MacDonald first discussed a partnership in 2017, there was a lot to figure out. The bond between the two organizations is unique, according to Wright. While training their clients for work in the health care industry was nothing new, it was Moffitt’s involvement that took training at the center to a new level.

“Moffitt donated a whole patient room on our campus,” Wright said. “It has everything down to the exact bed, cabinetry, reclining chair, table and even the sharps container and equipment on the wall. Everything there is just like on campus, including the toilet and shower. It’s an exact buildout.”

That replica allows clients to train in a space that is identical to the rooms that they will work in as a Moffitt team member. Moffitt is the only hospital that has created such a training space at MacDonald.

“You can see that it’s just a good fit,” Wright said. “It really helps someone who may not have had those cleaning tasks before gain that experience and to learn and master what those techniques are for a health care facility.”

And that’s not where the assistance ends with the partnership. Initially, a MacDonald employment coach shadowed Moffitt’s Environmental Services team for a week to get a feel for all the steps, inspection checklists and onboarding materials. This allowed trainers to learn what future employees would be doing and gain a full understanding of how to train someone to become a Moffitt team member.

Moffitt’s Enterprise Equity and Human Resources teams have ensured that the transition from client to team member goes smoothly for those training at MacDonald. When something wasn’t working well — or if it was working extremely well — the partners invested the time to discuss it.

“It’s so important in partnerships like this that we are all on the same page,” said Cathy Grant, vice president, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at Moffitt. “MacDonald has been wonderful to work with. We used each other’s suggestions to create a training program that has produced high-quality team members for Moffitt and a pathway for future employment opportunities at the cancer center through the training center.”

A History of Training Expertise

While Moffitt’s partnership with MacDonald is relatively new, the organization itself is not. MacDonald has been assisting members of the community with unique training courses since the 1950s and has helped thousands of people find careers and independence.

“I’m proud to say we have decades of history, and we’re one of the first organizations in the county to offer employment services like this,” Wright said. “Brian is such a great example of what we’re able to offer and how one part of our community can thrive with the right resources.”

And thriving is exactly how Tallman’s manager, Carlos Irizarry, environmental services lead, would describe his work.

Brian Tallman

MacDonald Training Center helped Brian Tallman find a stable career at Moffitt and move into his own apartment.

“He just came out of training and did a perfect job and is still doing a perfect job,” Irizarry said. “He cleans different sections of the hospital and has a beeper. He’ll get called into different rooms and floors and while he works, he keeps making new friends. I’m so proud of him and happy to see him doing such a great job for us and for himself.”

For Tallman, his employment at Moffitt is a new chapter in his life — from living on his own for the first time to meeting new friends and interacting with patients in a way he’s never experienced before. He hopes to stay with Moffitt for a long time.

“This is a good experience, and I get to keep learning different things and how they work,” Tallman said. “I am appreciative of the opportunity because I wouldn’t be here without it.”