National Council on Disability acknowledges Eskenazi Health for 
leading program assisting people with physical disabilities

Indianapolis, Oct. 26, 2017 – The National Council on Disability (NCD) has named the Eskenazi Health Initiative for Empowerment and Economic Independence (IEEI) an “emerging and promising practice for achieving economic self-sufficiency.”

The Eskenazi Health program empowers Indiana college students with physical and sensory disabilities to find gainful, sustainable and equitable employment by engaging qualified students into comprehensive and diverse internship opportunities that build skills, confidence and work history to maximize competitiveness in the workforce.

“We’re pleased that the National Council on Disability recommends that our IEEI program serve as a model in the development of multi-faceted partnerships, including higher education institutions and employers, to promote economic self-sufficiency,” said Ernest Vargo II, CFRE, president and chief executive officer of Eskenazi Health Foundation. “The visibility of IEEI on a national scale is an outstanding achievement and testament to the innovative drive of Eskenazi Health and all of its physicians, nurses and staff.” 

All IEEI interns work full-time (40 hours/week) for eight weeks during the internship session and are compensated at a fair and competitive hourly wage. Sessions are offered in the summer (June – August) and winter (January – March). Assistive technology including phone headsets, accessible desks and software packages is provided to the interns through this program, and some interns, who require housing, are provided ADA-compliant housing adjacent to the Eskenazi Health campus.

Students are accepted to the program because they demonstrate the work ethic, skill and drive to pursue and obtain gainful employment following matriculation. They are representative of the untapped pool of qualified employees so often overlooked by employers. This program accepts qualified, capable students with a variety of physical and sensory disabilities.

Since 2013, college students who participated in the IEEI program have held internships in such fields as occupational/physical therapy, computer programming, music therapy and public affairs and communications.

In July 2017, Eskenazi Health and Eskenazi Health Foundation announced a $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to expand the IEEI program.

The National Council on Disability is the federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies on programs, policies, and practices affecting people with disabilities. Each year, NCD publishes a progress report assessing the status of achieving equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities and empowering them to achieve economic self-sufficiency and integration into all aspects of society. A copy of the full report can be found here.


For nearly 160 years, Eskenazi Health has provided high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care to the residents of Marion County and Central Indiana. Accredited by The Joint Commission, nationally recognized programs include a Level I trauma center, regional burn center, comprehensive senior care program, women’s and children’s services, teen and adolescent care programs, Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health, and a network of primary care sites located throughout the neighborhoods of Indianapolis known as Eskenazi Health Center. In partnership with the Regenstrief Institute, Eskenazi Health conducts groundbreaking work that informs health information technology around the globe. Eskenazi Health also serves as the sponsoring hospital for Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services. As the public hospital division of the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC), Eskenazi Health partners with the Indiana University School of Medicine whose physicians provide a comprehensive range of primary and specialty care services. In December 2013, Eskenazi Health moved to its new main campus and opened the brand new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital. The new modern and efficient facility is Central Indiana’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold health care campus and offers unique features like a one-of-a-kind sky farm and extensive art collection. The Eskenazi Health Foundation was the recipient of $40 million gift from Indianapolis couple Sidney and Lois Eskenazi to assist with building the brand new hospital facilities. HHC recognized this generous gift by naming the new hospital and health system in the Eskenazis’ honor.

CONTACT: Tom Surber
Phone: 317.880.4793
Cell: 317.402.9327
Pager: 317.310.6589

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