Dr. Atlas Helaire, Superintendent, SoCal Roc

This week I had the opportunity to visit the Southern California Regional Occupation Center, also known as SoCal ROC. Dr. Atlas Helaire, Superintendent, welcomed me to the Center. The Southern California Regional Occupational Center was founded in 1967 to provide training for trades in traditional occupational settings. SoCal ROC has kept abreast of the changing needs of employers with the development of programs including an emphasis on technology. Dr. Helaire was hired in 2008 as the Director of Programs & Student Support Services at SoCal Roc. He served in this capacity until 2015 when he was promoted to Executive Director. Dr. Helaire was named superintendent of SoCal ROC in February 2017.

SoCal ROC has five different schools. Helaire explained each one of them to me, as well as the different subject area or classes offered in each school. The five different schools include Health and Science; Art and Design; Finance and Business; Engineering and Design and Public & Consumer Services. These schools include a variety of modules and certificates in areas that include medical, pet health and grooming, EMT, dental, automotive, electrician, HVAC, welding, video game creation, digital photography, and cosmetology.

As Helaire explained the various courses offered in each school, he commented on a recent partnership with Torrance Memorial Medical Center (TMMC). “We were contacted by TMMC to discuss the feasibility of offering a Sterile Processing Technician section. Sterile Processing techs play a critical role in preventing infection by sterilizing, cleaning, processing, assembling, storing, and distributing medical supplies,” stated Helaire.

” Rebecca Clements and Dr. Pesavento are visionary educators and recognized the opportunity and need for this role in the community and for student development and contribution. Seven students so far rotated through the five different departments- central services, surgical materials, sterile instrument processing department, and endoscopy suite after completing the online didactic course with IAHCSMM (International Association of Central Services and Materials Management) and Purdue University. 

 It is a cost-effective program for the students and SoCalROC. The students participate in 400-hour practicum in the various departments under the guidance and supervision of established staff. The students learn the processes through direct experience and experts on staff that further explain the role and scientific rationale.  This role is vital to infection prevention for surgical procedures as this work and diligence impacts the only actual items that touches the patients directly (surgeons and assistants all wear gloves and protection, the surgical instruments touch the patient directly).  This process and workflow are increasingly looked at and reviewed by national accrediting agencies for accuracy.

One student reported passing the certification test the week after their practicum completion. Several states require certification for technicians working in this department. There are three additional certifications that these technicians can earn.

It is a wonderful opportunity for the students, the hospital, and the community to further healthcare education and promote infection prevention,” commented Elizabeth Austin, Advanced Clinical Nurse Educator, Perioperative Services

Clinical Education, Practice, Nursing Research at TMMC.

“Although SoCal ROC has been removed from funding through the State of California budget, it has been an accomplishment to keep the Center opened and to see students get hired after receiving their training at SoCal ROC. There is a difference between just having a job versus doing something for which you have a passion and can earn a good living. SoCal ROC’s programs and career pathways will provide you with quality educational experiences that will tap into your passion and open doors to exciting career opportunities. I am thrilled that you have chosen SoCal ROC to pursue your career interest. I know you will understand very quickly why our motto is “Education with a Purpose,” stated Helaire.

The Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce values SoCal Roc’s commitment to providing training for trades in traditional occupational settings and for being a member since 1984. The Center is located at 2300 Crenshaw Blvd., in Torrance.

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