SSM Health Receives Exemplary Employer Award

SSM Health Wisconsin Region has been recognized with an Exemplary Employer Award during National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a month focused on highlighting employer’s commitment to employment practices that encourage the full participation of individuals with disabilities.

During a ceremony at SSM Health St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac, DWD Deputy Secretary Pam McGillivray highlighted the company’s partnership with DWD’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), and innovative hiring and training practices.

“Without employers like SSM Health recognizing the skills that individuals with disabilities bring to the workforce, and providing an opportunity, the countless successful employment connections made through our DVR program wouldn’t be possible,” McGillivray says.

SSM Health St. Agnes Hospital President, Katherine Vergos, whose family has received services through DVR, and Jacqueline Jefferson, SSM Health System Lead, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion accepted the award on behalf of SSM Health.

“Through this experience, I identified how the mission of SSM Health and our work to support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the communities we serve were an exceptional fit with this organization,” according to Vergos. “It has been a true blessing to see how our organization has benefited from the unique skills and abilities of individuals with disabilities.”

Donna Pierce, Director of Hospitality Services for the SSM Health Greater Fond du Lac Region, sees the partnership as a benefit to everyone involved.  

“Over the years, our team within our Food Service department, and more recently our Environmental Services department, have had many positive experiences in collaborating with organizations and programs that facilitate helping individuals with disabilities gain successful employment,” she says “We have found that the partnerships made are a win-win for all – the employee, the department, and the organization as a whole. We have seen great enthusiasm, engagement, and dependability. Wonderful friendships have been made with their co-workers and peers, making it further rewarding to see the growth these partnerships foster and the long-lasting life skills that are developed.”

Mike Bledsoe, Senior Director of Human Resources for the SSM Health Wisconsin Region, emphasized SSM Health’s mentor apprenticeship program in partnership with the Fond du Lac School District and the Madison Metropolitan School District.

“Across the Wisconsin region, and the SSM Health organization, we have created unique programs and partnerships focused on positively impacting the employment rate for individuals with disabilities within the communities we serve,” he says. “Through school partnerships and internship programs, individuals with disabilities are exposed to and trained for a variety of positions that match with their unique abilities and passions.”

Individuals and employers interested in DVR services can visit or contact DVR’s administrative office at 608-261-0050 or toll-free at 800-442-3477 for more information.