Portage EDC brightens community’s future with annual Healthcare 360 program

Portage EDC brightens community’s future with annual Healthcare 360 program

There’s nothing better than setting the community on the right path for future growth, and on Thursday, April 27 the Portage Economic Development Corporation (EDC) did exactly that. Nearly 130 high school students gathered at Ivy Tech Community College in Valparaiso to partake in Portage EDC’s annual Healthcare 360 program, an activity-packed day that gives students a deeper look into unique healthcare field opportunities to generate their interest and help build the community’s workforce. 

Portage EDC, Community Healthcare System, Northwest Health, Ivy Tech Community College, and Center of Workforce Innovation all partnered together to put on the event. What really made this year special, though, is that Portage EDC expanded the program and invited 30 students from Chesterton High School to take part. 

“We’re really excited that this year that we were able to include the Duneland kids. Even though we represent Portage, showcasing these jobs and opportunities is about building and strengthening the entirety of Northwest Indiana. It’s really cool that those students could come. We’re very proud of this program,” said Andy Maletta, executive director of Portage EDC. 

Portage EDC Healthcare 360 Event 2023

Portage EDC Healthcare 360 Event 2023 57 Photos
Portage EDC Healthcare 360 Event 2023Portage EDC Healthcare 360 Event 2023Portage EDC Healthcare 360 Event 2023Portage EDC Healthcare 360 Event 2023

Like every year, several stations were set up so kids could learn about different healthcare field careers through interactive activities. 

“This is such a great opportunity because some of these kids have never walked into a college before, or have never considered going to college, or just thought they would do whatever their parents suggested. Here, they get exposed to a lot of different things, and can try all kinds of different things to see what they like,” said Shannon Hough, Community Healthcare System’s health and wellness coordinator. 

Actual healthcare workers from a variety of different careers led each station to give the students a wider perspective of the healthcare field. When most people think of healthcare careers, they automatically think of doctors and nurses, but the program showed the students that there are so many more opportunities. 

“People don’t realize there is a lot of flexibility in healthcare--it’s more than just being on the front lines. Take me for example; I’m a nurse, but I don’t take care of patients. You can be a medical professional and work with insurance companies. There are just so many different opportunities out there that people don’t often think about,” said Hough. 

Students had a blast learning everything from how to perform CPR, how to properly gown up and hand equipment to a surgeon during surgery, how to remove gallbladder stones, how to staple a wound close, and how to take a pulse and monitor someone's vitals. 

Students also got to watch a video on how to take an X-ray and experience what it’s like to be in an ambulance. The students especially loved the test mannequins that college students use to simulate taking care of real-life patients. The mannequins could blink, cough, breathe, and so much more--it was incredibly entertaining. Throughout each activity, students raised their hands and asked a plethora of exciting questions. 

“It’s fun watching the kids and seeing their reactions. It’s so eye-opening to them, and they always ask so many questions about what it takes to get into these careers and how much their education will cost and what kind of money they could potentially make. These are important questions, and it’s neat to see the students interact,” said Maletta. 

By the end of the day, the students walked away more knowledgeable about the healthcare field and thinking about future careers many of them had never considered. It was heartwarming to see students discover passions that will lead to the growth and development of the community. 

“It’s just such a huge opportunity to get students into healthcare facilities and get some hands-on experiences so they can find a career that they love. We’re so happy that Ivy Tech provides this space,” said Maura Mundell, Duneland chamber president. 

Portage EDC is grateful to all of its partners for helping make the day such a huge success. Every year the event is a hit, and this year was certainly no different. 

“Our partners are fantastic--we couldn't do this without them. I know what a big time investment this is for them and I’m very appreciative of everything they do to make this happen,” said Maletta. 

Ultimately, Portage EDC’s 2023 Healthcare 360 program celebrated partnership, generated hope for many successful future careers, and set Northwest Indiana on the path toward growth and prosperity. Next year’s program is sure to be even more inspiring. 

“It just gets better every year. It’s a great opportunity for students and the schools to learn about healthcare careers, it’s a great opportunity for Ivy Tech to draw in some students, and it’s even more wonderful for the healthcare providers who are here today because they are always looking for people to hire. Programs like this will hopefully get them the future workers that they need. It’s good all the way around,” said Maletta. 

To learn more about Portage Economic Development Corporation, visit portagein.org.