By CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– A teenager is putting patients at ease at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. Alex Bean is responsible for getting them where they need to go. The 19-year-old with autism knows the hospital like the back of his hand.

(credit: CBS)

On the day CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh met Alex he was helping a patient, named Chris, go home. Chris had been in UCH for 70 days fighting infections and blood clots.

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“We’re glad that you’re getting out today,” Alex told Chris as he wheeled him to the elevator.

Alex always makes navigating the floors and halls of the hospital look easy. He spent many days here one summer when his mother was ill. Patient transport is now his part-time job.

Alex is friendly and determined, but he has challenges.

“To, like, learn something new,” he said, “to where I get frustrated.”

(credit: CBS)

Alex has autism. Last August, he began interning at the hospital with Project Search, a school-to-work transition program for young adults with special needs.

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Program Manager Stephanie Crookston says, when she first assessed Alex, he solved a Rubik’s cube in under two minutes.

“I remember going upstairs and talking to my boss going, ‘Where am I going to put him in the hospital?'” Crookston said.

CBS4 decided to challenge Alex, again. This time, he finished in just over a minute. Alex says meeting and chatting with patients has helped him socially.

(credit: CBS)

“Figuring out the things you need to say and you can’t say,” Alex explained.

He’s hoping for full-time hours soon. He’d like to become a LEGO designer.

“He could definitely do that,” said Crookston.

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UCHealth is one of 500 Project Search sites around the world. Crookston said 45 young people have graduated from the program and 95% have gotten jobs.

Kathy Walsh