Outreach

Honoring the Mentoring Futures Together Program

Volunteer mentors and children who are part of the Mentoring Futures Together Program recently enjoyed a special evening at the XL Center in Hartford, thanks to UConn Athletics.

Mentoring Futures Together is an innovative, collaborative program that provides mentoring and guidance to children of parents who are incarcerated. The program was launched a year ago under the leadership of Dr. Josephine Hawke, of the UConn Health Center’s Department of Psychiatry.

At a recent UConn women’s basketball game, not only did the Huskies provide a winning performance over Seton Hall, but the group from Mentoring Futures Together also heard some inspirational, personal words from Assistant Coach Marisa Moseley and former UConn player and current radio host, Kara Wolters.

It was a memorable night for all. My thanks again go to UConn Athletics for making this happen and to Dr. Hawke for her continued success.

The Value of Community Service

I was truly honored to receive the 2010 Community Service Award from the Urban League of Greater Hartford. Giving back and making a difference in the community is very important to me and to my family. In the end, we’ve always found that service is a gift unto itself – leading to meaningful friendships and invaluable insights. I’m happy to share the following article from the Avon News about the award: Urban League of Greater Hartford honors UConn medical school dean, an Avon resident.

Beyond the Farmington Campus

I was honored to recently receive the 2010 Community Service Award from the Urban League of Greater Hartford. It was a very moving night. The evening featured talks from men and women whose lives have been touched by the programs and services supported by the Urban League – their stories were truly inspiring.

I was proud to accept my award and spoke of the fact that the University of Connecticut Health Center has become a strong and empowering presence in our greater community – far beyond the Farmington campus.

As I mentioned that night, there are many ways that the Health Center’s faculty, staff and students help our community every day. Here are just a few examples:

UConn Health Network: The bold new initiatives that are part of the UConn Health Network will, in partnership with regional hospitals and healthcare and educational organizations, address pressing healthcare needs including the shortage of primary care physicians and nurses; ongoing health disparities; and the need for advanced simulation training for all healthcare professionals. We are very excited about these projects.

Mentoring Futures Together: Dr. Jo Hawke of the Department of Psychiatry was awarded a significant federal grant this year to launch Mentoring Futures Together. This is a collaborative effort between the Health Center and several local advocacy groups to provide adult role models to children who have a parent in prison or on parole. The program is now up and running – thanks to cooperation on many levels.

Health Career Opportunities Program: One of the best success stories in the Health Center’s history is our Health Career Opportunity Programs which for more than 20 years has developed innovative programs that reach out to talented students from middle school, high school, college and graduate levels and encourages them to pursue careers in medicine, dentistry and allied health.

The Helen I. Moorehead-Laurencin, M.D., Research Fellowship Fund: About a year ago, my wife and I created the Helen I. Moorehead-Laurencin, M.D., Research Fellowship Fund, in honor my mother. The fund supports UConn School of Medicine students who have demonstrated academic achievement and are involved in conducting summer research projects. Our hope is foster continued mentorship between students and established researchers and/or clinician researchers at the Health Center.

Student-Run Clinics: We are enormously proud of our medical and dental students’ interest and commitment to providing care to the most vulnerable patients in our area through projects like the Outreach Clinic at the South Park Inn, service at free dental clinics and more.

Indeed, there are many more ways we continue to help our community. Please know I appreciate and strongly support all of these initiatives and all the ways our faculty, students and staff use their talent and time to the betterment of our region.

Support Coast to Coast for a Cure 2010

Coast to Coast 2010
From left: First-year medical students Stacy White Jr., Loreen Fournier, Arturo Montano and Alex Ocampo make up this year’s Coast to Coast for a Cure cycling team. They’ll spend their summer pedaling from California to Connecticut to raise money for Lea’s Foundation for Leukemia Research, a major philanthropic supporter of the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center.

It’s the time of year when people around the Health Center start talking about their summer plans — whether it will be a special research project, an anticipated vacation with the family or a combination thereof.

For four of our School of Medicine students, the plans are quite clear. They will be riding at least 80 miles per day, rain or shine, as they pedal across the country to raise funds for the Lea’s Foundation for Leukemia Research.

Their journey is ambitious and awe-inspiring on many levels. For Loreen Fournier, Arturo Montano, Alex Ocampo and Stacy White, Jr., this summer is actually their last “free” time while attending medical school. All four are just completing their first year. And while they are all athletic and blessed with youth, none of them have ever done a bike trip of this magnitude.

The 2010 riders have set a goal of raising $50,000 for the Lea’s Foundation. It is important to note that the Lea’s Foundation has a special connection to the Health Center. Through the years, the Foundation has generously supported researchers, clinicians and programs at the Health Center, including the work of Dr. Pramod Srivastava and the establishment of the Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders, which is now part of our Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Because of this close connection, I urge all of you to join me in supporting this year’s ride. Look for more information throughout the Health Center in the weeks ahead about how you can give.

While not all of us can actually join Loreen, Arturo, Alex and Stacy on their trip, we can certainly be with them in spirit – and lend them our support and appreciation.

Thank you!

Members of the Health Center Community Volunteer Their Time in Haiti

Last week, a group of 11 men and women from the UConn Health Center community left for a 16-day medical mission to the University Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. They are volunteering their time and talent with the International Medical Corps, a global humanitarian organization. They have promised to send me photos from their mission and here are a few that I just received.

Dawn Smith takes a break from her nursing duties while working at the Hospital Universidad et Haiti in Port of Prince, Haiti.
Dawn Smith takes a break from her nursing duties while working at the Hospital Universidad et Haiti in Port of Prince, Haiti.
Drs. Lynn Kosowicz and Susan Levine are running the ICU at the Hospital Universidad et Haiti in Port of Prince, Haiti.
Drs. Lynn Kosowicz and Susan Levine are running the ICU at the Hospital Universidad et Haiti in Port of Prince, Haiti.
MaryBeth Barry charts in a medical record in an emergency tent in Port of Prince.
Mary Beth Barry charts in a medical record in an emergency tent in Port of Prince.

The UConn team includes specially trained physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners including:

  • Michael Fishcher, M.D., Internal Medicine
  • Lynn Kosowicz, M.D., Internal Medicine
  • Susan Levine, M.D., Internal Medicine (community physician; clinical faculty)
  • Mitch McGrath, R.N., General Medicine
  • Mary Beth Barry, A.P.R.N., Cardiology/General Medicine
  • Laura Glynn, R.N., General Medicine
  • Dawn Smith, R.N., General Medicine
  • Katherine Anderson, R.N., General Medicine
  • Kathleen Curley, R.N., General Medicine
  • Christy Meyer, R.N., Emergency Medicine/ICU
  • Rachel Jones, R.N., General Medicine

Though it has now been two months since the devastating earthquake, Haiti is still in dire need of medical attention and care. The needs are complex and it will take many more months, if not years, to rebuild its medical infrastructure. I look forward to the safe return of our Health Center group and appreciate the sacrifice they are making.

Faculty Reaching Out

I had the opportunity to attend a Discovery Series program the other night. I was really surprised by the number of people that turned out on a cold, wintry night to listen to a talk on shoulder, elbow, hand and wrist problems. My colleagues from the New England Musculoskeletal Institute did a fantastic job presenting the information in layman’s terms mixed with a bit of humor. Who knew they could be so entertaining? I believe the Discovery Series is an essential component of our mission as an academic medical center. It provides the public with timely, relevant health information and empowers individuals by providing them with the knowledge to make thoughtful health care decisions. Although I couldn’t stay for the whole program, I had another surprise before I left – they serve great cookies!