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PAWS 2021 Awardees

Bi-annually, UConn Health employees from across the organization are honored with our PAWS and TEAM awards. We celebrate individuals for consistently performing above and beyond the job's expectations, exhibiting being Part of a team, an Awesome attitude, a Wonderful Work Ethic, and Superior Service. In addition, we honor teams that further the mission of UConn Health by demonstrating Togetherness, Effort, positive Attitude, and Motivation.

Continuing with our "Seasons of Gratitude", the UConn Health community cheered on our honorees virtually as they receive their awards on December 13, 2021.

Congratulations and Many Thanks to Our Honorees!

PAWS Fall 2021

Rebecca Andrews, MD, Lead Physician – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Andrews is our lead physician in the Internal Medicine clinic and exemplifies being part of a team every day. This is apparent in how she interacts with patients, their families, and the staff. She encourages participation on all levels, and responds to all feedback brought to her attention to make positive changes. Her leadership through the Covid pandemic has brought knowledge and understanding with her up to date information that she shares openly. Dr. Andrews works not only in the clinic, but also teaches, leads the pain management clinic, and is extremely active with outside commitments as well. Despite her multiple roles, when she is working with you, her attention is always focused and reassuring. Dr. Andrews has facilitated communication in our very large team in internal medicine, which has been greatly appreciated by the staff!

Dr. Andrews approaches all situations in an open and energetic manner. She is always looking for ways to make improvements in a positive way and include those that would be affected by the changes. She finds a way to always put her patients first, but to also fully support her team in doing so.

If you have had the pleasure with working with Dr. Andrews, you would know that she never stops working! Whether in the clinic, in a meeting, at a conference, or teaching, you can always expect a prompt reply to any concern. She explains her thoughts fully and makes sure this is communicated to the patients and staff together. She is consistently overbooking her patient schedule and will always make room for the staff with their concerns as well. She works closely with other departments, has a wealth of knowledge about how to accomplish the best, safest possible care for her patients.

Dr. Andrews consistently provides superior service in all aspects- academic, clinical and personal. She is an absolute asset to the Internal Medicine clinic. Her caring practice, diverse clinical background, and willingness to constantly teach and be taught continue to inspire those she works with. In my years of working with Dr. Andrews, I have never seen her come across a problem that she did not get to the bottom of. This is certainly evident in her patient care and the praise that I see come in every day from them, as well as the staff.

 

Steven Angus, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Angus has been an integral part of the Internal Medicine team for many years. He currently works in the Internal Medicine clinic on Mondays, continuing to see his own patient panel as well as precepting UCONN residents. He openly communicates with all members of the team and will include appropriate resources to provide the best care for his patients. He leads by example and encourages the medical residents to also work as a team, not to provide care through delegation.

Dr. Angus has an awesome attitude! He comes into the clinic every day with an amazingly calm presence and takes any issue in stride. He is respected by the staff, and respectful in return. He is easily approachable and a great resource. If there are any escalating issues, Dr. Angus will intervene and always provides reassurance to patients and staff.

Dr. Angus has a wonderful work ethic. Although his time is mainly administrative, he is extremely responsive to any issues and will often call his patients directly to address urgent concerns. He precepts resident staff and encourages them to be autonomous and to seek out solutions, providing feedback and suggestions as needed. He makes sure patients are well cared for and that patient safety is always maintained. Dr. Angus will see his patients on his non-clinic days and will also reach out after hours if needed.

Dr. Angus always provides superior service, as a clinician and an educator. He works with the resident physicians on process improvement projects focused on patient care and safety. He goes out of his way to see his patients when hospitalized and will reach out personally, even when not clinically necessary. Dr. Angus always puts patient care first, even when approached with issues not pertaining to his panel, he is eager to jump in to help the staff. Dr. Angus's years of experience, knowledge and approachability all contribute to his excellent service and he is truly an asset to our clinic!

Erik Barrows, Application Architect – IT AppDev & Analytics

Submitted by Tamara Cardoso, Performance Improvement Spec, Office of Patient Experience

Erick is an Application Architect with our IT team. As part of our initiative to provide an additional option (and to lessen wait times) for entry screening to our patients and visitors, Erik joined the efforts. In usual fashion with entry screening, approaches can pivot quickly. Erik quickly assessed our needs and developed a web-based tool that fit our immediate patient/visitor needs.

Erik always participated in scheduled meeting, followed up on deliverables in a timely manner and manage to quickly fine tune the web-based tool with no complaint, even during out nitpicky testing phase - all with confidence and patience.

Erik's work was well developed and timely. He was clear on his deliverables along with any post follow up communication.

Once our pilot began with our web-based entry screening tool, the users and department leaders provided reasonable feedback from the patient community. We requested visual indicators on our entry screening pass for those that may have visual limitations. Erick produced a improved prototype of our digital entry screening passes. With approval, he then moved the request into production. Within days, the changes to our daily entry screening tool was improved. Thank you Erik for your partnership!

Laurie Caines, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Shannon Egan, Staff Nurse, UMG - Internal Medicine

Dr. Caines consistently involves all parts of her "team" to care for her patients, including nursing and her medical assistant to provide the best care for patients. She is always is clear with her communication, respectful at all times, and always expressing her thankfulness to her "team".

Our clinic is a very busy, fast paced clinic. Despite most days being crazy and hectic, you would never know by looking at Dr. Caines. She is consistently calm, composed, and collected, focusing on her patient's needs, always actively listening and providing the best care she can for her patients. It is really impressive.

Dr. Caines always has a positive attitude, she is always approachable, and always a pleasure to work with. Her positive attitude is contagious and I truly appreciate her infectious positivity. Her patient's love her and literally tell her this. I hear patient's leaving her rooms all of the time saying "I love you", and she responds "I love you too". It truly doesn't get better than this.

Dr. Caines is always advocating for her patient's to ensure they receive the best care. She has a huge heart and the patience of a saint.

Saira Cherian, DO, Assistant Professor of Medicine – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Cherian is an integral part of the Internal Medicine team. She works very closely with the UConn Health residency program as well as the support staff in the clinic. Dr. Cherian also has rotated up to the hospital during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as a hospitalist, working closely with the inpatient staff as well. She communicates frequently with the staff to facilitate appointments and follow up for her patients, often overbooking to make sure patient care is not delayed. Dr. Cherian is also one of our pre-op clinic providers, working closely with the UConn Health surgeons to expedite care.

Dr. Cherian has an awesome attitude and this is picked up on by all those who are able to work with her. She makes sure to touch base with the staff, and is an advocate to keep patient and staff satisfaction high. She has a very calm, reassuring presence with her patients and is always willing to help out when approached.

Dr. Cherian has an amazing work ethic. She will often precept multiple residents during her sessions, helping to mentor and educate. She was very willing to transition to the hospital with COVID-19 patients, and experience from the hospital translated to her clinic practice once she was able to return. Dr. Cherian shares her knowledge with others and her leading by example continues to inspire the clinic staff and residents she works with.

Dr. Cherian consistently provides superior service. Her time as a UConn Health hospitalist is a great example of this and was highlighted by UConn Health directly during the pandemic. She is a very approachable resource for the residents and the staff, helping to ensure safe and effective patient care. She continues to care for very complex, diverse patients, and is always available to answer questions and concerns by patients and staff. She is inclusive of all staff in her care of patients, which is very reassuring to her patients and validating for the staff. She is truly a pleasure to work with.

Josh Figueroa, Courier – Courier Express Inc

Submitted by Sandra Finnimore, Project SEARCH Manager, Human Resources

Josh works in the Mailroom and is a mentor for the Project SEARCH interns. Josh is always eager to take on an intern and teach them the responsibilities that come with delivering along the mail out as well as working in the mailroom. He coordinates with the Project SEARCH Skills Trainers to maintain routine as well as building skills for the interns.

In the past two years that Josh has worked with the interns, he has always displayed an awesome attitude. He is incredibly understanding of the time and effort that goes into taking on an intern and is consistently eager to do so. Josh radiates positivity and can find the silver lining in just about anything. Which unbeknownst to him has a major impact on improving the interpersonal skills of our interns.

Josh consistently demonstrates the ideal skills looked for in a mentor. He understands the importance of his role in his department as well as his commitment to the program and the growth of the interns. Josh goes above and beyond in his role as a mentor. Josh recognizes the different abilities of our individuals and will often dedicate his time to making accommodations to aide in their success.

Josh understands the importance of building and maintaining healthy working relationships with his departments. Josh will go the extra mile to provide great service to those he delivers to. It is very apparent that he is well respected by many individuals here.

Robert Flach, RN, Staff Nurse CN2 – UMG-Internal Medicine Simsbury

Submitted by Susan Rotondo, Clinic Office Assistant, UMG-Internal Medicine Simsbury

Robert is always available at any given time to answer any and all questions that the office staff may have, not only regarding patients, but also for any office issues. He is always the "go to" person in the office, he never makes you feel like you are a burden for asking for help, a definite team player and a wonderful addition to the Simsbury office.

Honestly, I have never seen Robert in a "bad mood". He is genuinely interested in what the patients" have to say, he handles every situation with kindness and concern. He never rushes the patient and lets them speak freely. I have seen Robert go above and beyond on many occasions, wheeling patient's in and out of the building, sitting with them to discuss medications, (many times without having a formal appointment) offering outside services if needed when he feels the patient may need more care than what they are currently receiving. When we have "walk-ins" which we have many, Robert will always help out with questions, or address the patient personally without any attitude. He has a great rapport with all of the office staff, and medical staff alike.

I have been working with Robert for over 3 years, he has a amazing work ethic, never seems to complain or object to whatever issues come across his desk. Robert is always in a great mood which transcends throughout the office, positive attitude, great sense of humor.

On m any occasions, I have seen Robert wheel patients in and out of the office especially in the winter when conditions are not the most conducive for wheelchairs and walkers. Robert has walked patients out to their cars and assisted with the care givers as well. He respects the patient and their privacy on one recent occasion sat with a elderly patient to discuss her medications in the waiting room , concerned for her privacy, he escorted her to the back, carrying her purse, and helping her make her way with a guided hand. ( this patient did not have a appointment) He has a very calming demeanor which not only patients, but staff enjoy.

Doug Hackenyos, Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator – Pharmacy

Submitted by Samantha Busam, Asst Nursing Manager, Neag Cancer Center Unit

Doug is the Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator in the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center. Doug is actively involved with the day-to-day operations of our department and regularly interacts with the nursing staff, as well as the Cancer Center Management Team. He keeps the lines of communication open with other areas of UConn Health, especially in regards to nursing and nursing leadership. Doug is extremely dedicated to making sure patients get their medications in a safe, timely fashion. He has established a great rapport not only with our team, but with our patients as well. His visibility in our infusion areas has been recognized by many. In fact, Doug has been known to come out to the infusion areas and speak directly to patients if there are ever any delays or issues. He is honest and transparent, as well as knowledgeable and experienced in the field. Doug is a valuable resource and is approachable and receptive to collaborating with others. He is also essential to our billing process. He assists our Clinical Practice Manager with billing questions on a regular basis and provides constructive feedback for appeals when needed. Doug assists providers with EPIC, in particular when it involves complicated orders.

Doug is always available for questions and serves as a resource to our entire team. He has a positive attitude, even during stressful times. Doug stays calm under pressure and is committed to finding solutions and brainstorming ways to improve. Despite a challenging pharmacy construction project, Doug was able to coordinate and find ways to keep our infusion areas running efficiently. He facilitated mixing medications at the main hospital and arranged a dedicated courier service. Doug also looked at the daily schedules ahead of time and anticipated our needs. Whether we have an issue with a cracked filter or a tubing shortage, Doug is always ready and willing to step in and offer a hand by being part of the solution to tackle any problems we’re facing.

Doug is hard-working and dedicated to his job. He regularly goes above and beyond and is committed to his work. He is reliable and resourceful. He manages his time well and when he is operating as staff, he lets us know so that he can remain focused and on task. Even when Doug was involved in the implementation of the COVID vaccine clinics, he still made himself available to the Cancer Center and worked around his schedule to personally answer our questions.

Doug worked on developing a more streamlined process to flag specialty pharmacy drugs in EPIC and has been an integral part of arranging and coordinating this complex task. He works closely with other clinics to ensure that medications are delivered in time for patients’ infusions. Doug has proactively worked with the Cancer Center Management team to start to develop a process regarding a recent change with Anthem, impacting the way patients will be receiving their medications. Doug has spearheaded the Biosimilar Committee and leads the meetings, as well as communicates any updates and changes within the department. He is a part of the EPIC protocol validation group and reviews the intricacies of complex treatment plans, while approving these plans from a pharmacy standpoint. Doug arranges for pharmacy residents to shadow in both the Adult Ambulatory Care Unit and the Cancer Center infusion room so they get to see the order verification and release/administration process from a nursing perspective. He has even offered to have nursing staff shadow in the pharmacy so nurses can see the pharmacy workflow and how it impacts their daily work. Overall, Doug’s commitment to our team is valued by our entire department. He is our "go-to" pharmacy resource and makes our team complete! His participation and leadership in all of these committees, while focusing on patient-centered care proves that he is worthy of this PAWS award. We are extremely grateful to Doug and are proud to work with him!

Gyuri Han, Neurodiagnostic Tech – Clinical Neurophysiology

Submitted by Brooke Medel, Asst Nursing Manager, Clinical Patient Navigator, UMG-General Neurology

Gyuri is an EEG tech in CT Neurodiagnostics. Our technicians cover in-patient, out-patient and also the NICU. There was a very sick baby that came into the NICU and needed to be hooked up for an EEG. It was later in the day and baby needed some other tests before we hooked up the leads. When baby was ready we were having technical/network issues with the machine. IT between JDH and CCMC eventually figured it out and the test was able to be started. Gyuri offered to stay not knowing what time the technical issues would be ironed out even though she was missing her daughters 21st birthday dinner. She did not leave until 8:30. Dr. Sink and the NICU nurse managers wanted to make sure she was recognized for her selflessness and commitment to her patients....Thanks Gyuri

Angela Hart, DO, Assistant Professor of Medicine – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Angela Hart is an amazing part of our Internal Medicine team. She has such a pleasant, calm demeanor, and works very hard to include all in her patient care. She is very active in teaching UConn Health residents, while caring for a very diverse patient population. She will seek out assistance and feedback from her medical assistants, the support staff, nursing staff and peers to ensure that the best possible patient care is provided. She is extremely supportive in mentoring and is often sought out by staff to help with challenging situations.

Dr. Hart has an awesome attitude! She is always easily approachable, pleasant, and has an amazing bedside manner with her patients. She makes sure to check in with the staff and is so supportive of all of our needs. She is greatly admired by her patients and the staff for her positive presence and excellent patient care!

Dr. Hart has a wonderful work ethic as well. She will often overbook her patients to ensure that their needs are met, and is a great resource and mentor to the UConn Health resident staff. She will check on her patients outside of clinic time and assist with arranging resources to ensure her patients receive the best, safest care. She is truly an inspiration to work with.

Dr. Hart continues to offer superior service. She not only sees her regular patients in the clinic, but also does OMT therapy to provide relief as an effective, wholistic pain management strategy. She is extremely knowledgeable and supportive and is a pleasure to work with. She communicates clearly with her patients and the staff and ensures that everyone is equally engaged in providing the best possible outcomes, especially her patients. She is truly admired by all who have the pleasure of working with her.

Ilir Hoxha, Storekeeper Assistant – Laundry

Submitted by Sandra Finnimore, Project SEARCH Manager, Human Resources

Ilir was the newest mentor in Linen for the Project SEARCH. Ilir works extremely hard and always assist others with their work. He has been great in including our intern as apart of the team and sharing the responsibilities wit his other coworkers.

From the beginning Ilir demonstrated a positive attitude. He was eager to learn more about the program, the interns, and how to be the best mentor he could be.

Ilir demonstrates an amazing work ethic. He starts his work on time, and goes the extra mile to ensure his areas are up to standard. He has taught our intern the importance of working hard and time management. He has taken the extra time to repeat steps, allow for our intern to ask questions, memorize, or write down any information related to tasks.

Ilir worked extremely hard on providing a great experience for our intern. He was quick to understand the importance of fostering independence and was eager to get our intern to work independently by the end of the rotation. Which he successfully did!

 

Laxman Kadel, Neurodiagnostic Tech – Clinical Neurophysiology

Submitted by Brooke Medel, Clinical Patient Navigator, UMG-General Neurology

Laxman exemplified being a part of our stroke interdisciplinary team by providing such good care to a patient that was critical in the ICU. A critical stroke patient in the ICU has a lot of medical staff and attention from many different providers and specialties. He was able to make the patient and her daughter's experience feel as though everyone was working well together with her mother in their best interest. He introduced himself, explained why he was there and what he was doing and how his care was important for the patient and made the patient's daughter feel comfortable with him doing the procedure he needed to do (perform an EEG on the patient).

Laxman has an awesome attitude and treats every patient and family member with the upmost respect. He talked to the patient and explained everything that he was going to be doing before he did it (even though the patient was intubated and sedated). The daughter said that he was blown away with how great he was with her mother and how he was so respectful to her mother during such a scary time.

Laxman consistently works very hard at his job and takes the time necessary to make the patients feel as comfortable as they can. He is efficient with his work, but he does not rush. He takes the time to make his encounters with the patient personal and really goes above and beyond what he is required to do.

Overall, Laxman has displayed that he really does provide superior service to all our patients, and especially our neurological ones. He is so personal with everyone he meets and treats everyone as if they were his own family member. Family members compliment how great he is when he is interacting with the patients and he really helps make families and patients feel more comfortable even if they are very stressed. We are very fortunate to have Laxman at UConn Health and he truly deserves recognition for all his hard work and superior service.

 

Marilyn Katz, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Katz exemplifies teamwork at UCONN. She is a provider in the Internal Medicine Clinic, has facilitated a pre-op clinic for UConn Health surgery patients, and teaches in the residency program. She works across disciplines and with support staff daily to provide excellent patient care and avoid delays with treatment. The pre-op clinic has grown exponentially under her direction and coordination.

Dr. Katz has an awesome attitude and is truly a pleasure to work with. She is easily approachable and is a great resource to the staff. She has a very calming presence and can also navigate with some of her more challenging patients in a way that they feel supported and reassured. She goes above and beyond, always making patient care a priority.

Dr. Katz has an amazing work ethic. In her leadership with the pre-op clinic, she will often overbook patients that are not her own, to avoid delays with their surgical procedures. She will also do the same with her own patients, often coming in early or staying late to accommodate. She precepts UConn Health residents and medical students. She works very closely with her support staff and specialty departments to make sure patients care is streamlined and effective.

Through all of these examples of teaching and clinical care, Dr. Katz consistently provides superior service. She mentors residents and students without compromising patient satisfaction and safety. She cares for extremely complex medical patients and makes sure she is up to date on the most current recommendations, working closely with UConn Health specialty services if needed. Her collaborative effort is reciprocated by these providers and she is often sought out to take on new patients that do not have a primary care provider. She is greatly admired and appreciated by her patients, their families, and the staff.

Lynn Kosowicz, MD, Professor and Department Head – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Kosowicz is truly an amazing physician and colleague in the Internal Medicine Practice. Although she has stepped in to a more administrative role, she still sees her own patients in the clinic and truly works as part of the team. She shares her knowledge and experience openly and often works side by side very closely with her support staff to make sure her patients are extremely well cared for. Her support of the staff makes everyone feel included as a colleague, not as a worker, which is greatly appreciated.

Dr. Kosowicz has an awesome attitude and is a pleasure to work with. She comes in with a pleasant greeting every day, and make sure to spend time with the staff and her patients. Even with difficult days, she is always approachable and and reassuring. She provides positive feedback, is always thankful for help, and makes sure to always communicate this.

Dr. Kosowicz has an amazing work ethic. Despite administrative responsibilities, she is still constantly up to date on her patient's conditions and concerns. She will collaborate with the team to make sure a plan is in place, and then follow up to make sure her patients are well cared for. She will always get her patients in to be seen with concerns, and follow up directly. Her knowledge and attention to detail inspires those she works with- support staff and her peers. I can personally say that her influence on me in the outpatient setting continues to inspire me to constantly improve on my own care of patients.

Dr. Kosowicz is an amazing provider and consistently provides superior service. This again applies to her patients and to the staff. She has an amazing attention to detail that is unmatched. Her experience over the years combined with her calm, reassuring presence with patients, is truly a pleasure to observe and be a part of. I will continue to learn through her example and teaching, as I'm sure will all others that have the fortunate ability to work with her.

Susan Levine, MD, Associate Professor – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Levine exemplifies teamwork in her everyday practice. She is a leader in the UConn Health Residency Program in addition to her Internal Medicine Clinic time. She includes support staff and residents in her research studies, patient care and residency program schedules. Dr. Levine will often seek feedback to assist with unit and residency improvements which is so greatly appreciated. She goes above and beyond to communicate with staff which has certainly been a challenge during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Her consistent attention to this truly makes her invaluable to her patients as well as the staff who work with her. The teamwork between Dr. Levine and her medical assistant is impossible to miss!!!

Dr. Levine has an awesome attitude and is always available for the staff and her patients. She is an absolute pleasure to work with and is always looking for ways to educate. Her positive approach to difficult situations is greatly admired.

Dr. Levine has an amazing work ethic! Between a very busy residency program and a very large panel of patients, she is always working and available to her patients and support staff. She includes the support staff, medical assistants and nurses as much as possible. The way she includes all of us in her care truly engages and inspires us all.

Dr. Levine continues to provide superior service. I cannot emphasize enough the positive communication with staff and patients that brings a level of understanding and commitment to patient safety and satisfaction. She facilitates refugee screenings, working very closely with her medical assistant, and is truly appreciated by these patients as they try to navigate through a very intimidating process. She provides great support to her patients and will touch base after clinic with patients not scheduled to make sure there concerns are addressed. She continues to go above and beyond and is an inspiration to us all!

Robert Nardino, MD, Associate Professor – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Nardino is primarily a hospitalist, but comes to our Internal Medicine clinic weekly to run a pre-op clinic. He precepts UConn Health residents, works with the surgeons, and works closely with the support staff to ensure safe patient care and expedite surgical procedures. His contributions to the clinic are greatly appreciated. He will often add to our morning huddles when sent out as well, which is always appreciated.

Dr. Nardino is an absolute pleasure to work with. He always comes to the clinic with a smile on his face and is never flustered. He handles a lot of difficult situations in a calm, reassuring manner. He has an excellent working relationship with the entire staff, as well as his patients.

Dr. Nardino will often overbook to see urgent pre-ops to help facilitate patient's procedures. He will also see urgent visits if needed to help the needs of the clinic. He responds to messages quickly and is always very thorough.

Dr. Nardino offers superior service. As a hospitalist, he sees very complex medical patients and has taken on a few of these patients as their primary care physician. The rapport he develops with patients and staff is unsurpassed. He has been utilized in the hospital through the height of COVID-19, helping to relieve the burden to other providers. He is truly an asset to the UConn Health institution.

 

Jacqueline “Kiki” Nissen, MD – Senior Associate Dean-Fac. Affairs, Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Nissen is part of our Internal Medicine team. She works very closely with the support staff, medical assistants and nursing staff to help provide safe and thorough patient care. She is always thankful for any help, and teaches at every opportunity.

Dr. Nissen has an awesome attitude. She always comes into the clinic with a pleasant, cheerful attitude. She spends time with the staff, helping to improve morale. She goes over and above for her patients and her staff alike.

Dr. Nissen works primarily in administration, but works in the Internal Medicine clinic one day a week. Despite her administrative duties, Dr. Nissen is extremely attentive to her patients. She checks on messages frequently and responds directly, which puts her patients at ease. Dr. Nissen goes out of her way to make sure her patients have follow ups in place and will often see patients outside of her clinic sessions.

Dr. Nissen continues to provide superior service to her patients. Her direct attention and thorough examinations are always apparent. She will often cover urgent issues in the clinic and is a great resource for staff. She is truly a pleasure to work with.

 

Janice Oliveri, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Oliveri is always willing to help with patients, and truly appears to enjoy teaching. She likes the unexpected and a challenge. She will often have several students and residents with her during her clinics. she can often be heard saying " this is great that you are getting to see this..."while speaking to a med student and referring to a patient and their situation. There always seems to be a teaching moment with her. she is approachable and willing to explain issues in a way that doesn't make you feel silly for asking.

Dr. Oliveri is always willing to answer questions, explain medications or testing, and will work with nursing staff towards finding the best solution for patient and their care. She will often stop and speak with staff to "touch base" regarding the day and phone calls.

Dr Oliveri allows her schedule to be overbooked so that patients do not have a delay in their care. we are large clinic with many patients, but often have few appointments available. she appears to love teaching and always has at least two medical students or residents with her during her clinics.

Dr Oliveri is a great teacher. We appreciate her teaching moments and taking the time to discuss patients, issues and medications with Nursing. She is never condescending and always a wealth of knowledge. As mentioned above, she will schedule patients so that they are seen sooner instead of having them wait for an opening in the schedule. I speak with patient's weekly who report they have "been a patient for years and trust her completely".

 

Jennifer Ozimek, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Ozimek is one of the outstanding doctors in the Internal Medicine practice at UConn Health. She is a leading part of our team in the clinic, always including patients, staff, residents and other providers in her patient care. Her positive attitude, knowledge of healthcare, experience and caring practice all lead to everyone working together to achieve the best possible outcomes for her patients. Dr. Ozimek works very closely with the UConn Health residency program, teaching both in the classroom as well as the clinic, always finding creative ways to problem solve difficult situations.

Dr. Ozimek always has a positive, cheerful attitude. She is always willing to help and is greatly admired by her patients and the staff alike. She comes in every day full of energy despite an extremely busy schedule, and her disposition encourages others to act the same. She brings such a positive energy to the clinic that is greatly appreciated by all!

Dr. Ozimek's work ethic is above and beyond 100 percent of the time. He will always fit patients into his schedule- staying late, seeing patients during lunch, and calling after hours to follow up directly and reassure patients. He leads by example and is always available to patients as well as staff. He is very active with the UConn Health residency program and leads the residents in process improvement projects throughout the year, helping to improve patient safety and satisfaction. Dr. Ozimek also rotates through the inpatient side of care as a hospitalist, often helping patients after discharge, even when they are not established with his clinic.

Dr. Ozimek sees patients with complex medical conditions and helps them navigate through complicated diagnoses and tests/procedures in a way that is easy to understand and that is reassuring to the patients and their families. He will offer his expertise to the staff even when the patients are not directly under his care. Dr. Ozimek facilitates a teaching environment in the clinic that is greatly appreciated by everyone who is lucky enough to work with him.

David Ozimek, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Let me start out by stating this nomination is coming from the entire Internal Medicine Department in the Outpatient Pavilion. If there is anyone that exemplifies the PAWS award, it is Dr. Ozimek. As one of the physicians in the Internal Medicine Clinic, he works as part of a team with the entire support staff (office assistants, medical assistants and nurses). He puts his patients first and is always open to suggestions and feedback, trusting the staff he works so closely with. Dr. Ozimek is always teaching. He precepts UCONN residents and medical assistants and provides important feedback and resources that are vital to their education. He will also educate the staff which helps all of us to be a more inclusive part of at team. He is always supportive and will offer constructive feedback in a way that is receptive by all.

Dr. Ozimek definitely has an "awesome attitude". He is always approachable, and has the time to listen to your concerns, no matter how busy the day. He is always thankful of the support he receives and goes out of his way to make all the staff feel appreciated. He is admired by ALL of his patients. The respect and gratitude expressed in office visits, through phone calls and messages is constant reinforcement of this. No matter how overwhelming a day may seem, Dr. Ozimek always approaches every situation with a positive attitude.

Dr. Ozimek's work ethic is above and beyond 100 percent of the time. He will always fit patients into his schedule- staying late, seeing patients during lunch, and calling after hours to follow up directly and reassure patients. He leads by example and is always available to patients as well as staff. He is very active with the UConn Health residency program and leads the residents in process improvement projects throughout the year, helping to improve patient safety and satisfaction. Dr. Ozimek also rotates through the inpatient side of care as a hospitalist, often helping patients after discharge, even when they are not established with his clinic.

Dr. Ozimek sees patients with complex medical conditions and helps them navigate through complicated diagnoses and tests/procedures in a way that is easy to understand and that is reassuring to the patients and their families. He will offer his expertise to the staff even when the patients are not directly under his care. Dr. Ozimek facilitates a teaching environment in the clinic that is greatly appreciated by everyone who is lucky enough to work with him.

 

Nicholas Pisani, Therapeutic Recreation Spec – Psychiatry 1 Unit

Submitted by Elizabeth Grala, Nurse Manager, Psychiatry, Psychiatry 1 Unit

Nick works as a Therapeutic Recreational Therapist for the department of Psychiatry. He is instrumental in helping patients restore their coping mechanisms, hope, and well being, by conducting groups and individual therapies with the patient population on a daily basis. Nick has a way to engage with every patient on the unit, including those that want to isolate from others. Each patient he encounters provides Nick an opportunity to make a difference in the patients' lives and alleviate some of their stressors. By helping the patient look at their problems differently and develop goals to improve their lives after discharge. He has received numerous WOW awards from his patients and decorates his office with them as a gentle reminder of how much he is appreciated by his patients and staff. He is well respected by his colleagues and participates in daily treatment teams communicating significant findings, and collaborating on ideas to improve the overall care and safety of the service and the patient population.

Nick is consistently calm and collected. He is a good listener and provides the patients opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions.

Nick is consistently running groups at designated times, he is flexible in modifying the groups according to the patient's needs.

Nick is superior in seeing the patients succeed. He helps his patients recognize their self worth and value and restores the necessary confidence in the patients to achieve their goals.

Allan Peterson, Director – Parking and Transportation

Submitted by Sharon Kleinhen, Business Services Manager, Parking and Transportation Services

If you have had the opportunity to interact/cross paths with Allan around campus, you would definitely agree that his approach is to show by example what a team player looks like. I have witnessed Allan over the years, interact with so many departments, always trying to find ways to work together and displays a strong commitment to the UConn Health Mission, he consistently shows compassion and dedication to UConn Health. Many individuals don't realize Parking, Transportation and Event Services Department handles much more than just assigning a parking space. When a patient enters our campus, our department plays a large role with our patients and visitors, from the first impression to the last impression to their visit, along with staff and contractors. Allan collaborates with Human Resources to make sure all new staff members orientation is as smooth as possible for Photo ID and parking assignments. He works with accommodating the Schools and Residency office as well. He also works with nursing areas to help accommodate special orientations, understanding how importance of the patient care areas. He consistently works with Facilities to keep all informed of any construction projects, etc. Allan works very closely with LAZ Parking to ensure our patients and visitors experience a safe, clean, professional arrival and departure so that they can concentrate on their appointments and loved ones.

With all the changes that have occurred over the last year and a half, Allan has not let that affect his drive to work hard and keep focused on our mission and vision. Allan has gone above and beyond to help LAZ office feel safe while driving shuttles, or handling valet service, etc. Allan loves his job and it shows. (That's contagious).With all the changes that have occurred over the last year and a half, Allan has not let that affect his drive to work hard and keep focused on our mission and vision. Allan has gone above and beyond to help LAZ office feel safe while driving shuttles, or handling valet service, etc. Allan loves his job and it shows. (That's contagious).

Allan constantly thinks outside the box to try to make this a better work place for all, while still staying within the guidelines. Allan is super dependable and displays commitment to his role. I consider myself blessed to work with someone who I can honestly say, they love what they do, and they are professional and positive about their job.

Gauri Prabhu, Admin & Clin Sys Coord – Pharmacy

Submitted by Sandra Finnimore, Project SEARCH Manager, Human Resources

Gauri is very supportive of the Project SEARCH program and supporting our interns. She was amazing in introducing our intern to the team and making them feel like a true member of the UConn Health Pharmacy family.

Gauri consistently displayed a positive attitude in the workplace. She consistently praised our interns work ethic and ability to quickly learn. She takes on a lot of responsibilities and still maintains a positive attitude.

Gauri was always working extremely hard. Even with all her responsibilities she always found time to check in with the intern and show them new tasks. She never doubted their ability to work.

Gauri has been a pleasure to work with as mentor. She is always available to help others and answers their questions.

Sandra Scippa, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Scippa is one of our amazing providers in the Internal Medicine Clinic. She is very much a part of a team environment in a very large, complex clinic. She works with her peers, staff, medical residents and students to provide excellent care to her patients. She works closely with the nursing staff especially, with a collaborative approach to patient care and teaching equally. She precepts and teaches in the medical residency program at UConn Health with her peers and encourages open communication which is so greatly appreciated.

Dr. Scippa is always easily approachable and has such a caring presence with her patients. Her calm demeanor is very reassuring. Even during stressful times, she advocates for her patients and her staff. She goes above and beyond, facilitating care even when unable to see patients directly and is so greatly appreciated by all!

Dr. Scippa has an amazing work ethic. She is constantly keeping up with her patient care and results, and helping navigating so many of her patients through a very difficult time with the COVID-19 pandemic. She offers support and guidance, communicates clearly, and with seeing many new patients recently, has caught many potential safety issues with her patients. Including her staff with care has helped to maintain the best possible outcomes for her patients, many of whom present with very challenging medical and social situations.

Dr. Scippa's superior service is evident in her daily practice. She thoroughly investigates patient's concerns, and offers very detailed, easy to understand instructions for her patients. She precepts UConn Health residents and students, offering autonomy while providing support to help facilitate a teaching environment. Her support of the clinic has been vital to our success over the years and many of us would be lost without her!

Michele Shields, University Helper – Volunteers

Submitted by Karen Elliott, Administrative Officer, Office of Patient Experience

Michele works primarily at the very busy Information Desk at CT Main. A patient presented to the desk for screening and Michele noticed the patient was using a walker. Considering this and the long walk to get to her appointment, Michele offered the patient transport in a wheelchair for her safety. When the patient declined, Michele walked with her to the appointment. Upon arrival to the clinic, the patient began to fall. Michele had been holding her arm and was able to prevent a serious fall/injury. The patient was evaluated by the clinical staff and was found to have a minor scrape and small bruise. If Michele had not been there to assist, the patient may have suffered more serious injury. Literally a great catch by Michele who always puts patient safety first!

For your continuous and exemplary service, we nominate you for this PAWS award in gratitude.

Heather Sperry, Clinical Practice Manager – Dental Financial Services

Submitted by Sandra Finnimore, Project SEARCH Manager, Human Resources

Heather is a huge supporter of the Project SEARCH program. She consistently welcomes us into the department. On top of her many responsibilities, Heather consistently makes the interns feel welcomed and apart of the UConn Health family.

As a leaders of her team, Heather has many responsibilities. She seems to always be helping others out. Through it all, she continues to have an awesome attitude. She is incredibly kind, patient, and understanding.

In the four years that she has worked with Project SEARCH, Heather has always displayed a wonderful work ethic. She is a great example of what a leader is. She is consistently there for her staff and always willing to help them out.

Many times Heather is the go to for patient resolutions. She has an amazing ability to professionally handle any and all situations. It is truly a pleasure to watch her work.

Cheryl Taylor, Storekeeper Assistant – Mailroom

Submitted by Sandra Finnimore, Project SEARCH Manager, Human Resources

Cheryl is a great leader in the Mailroom. She dedicates herself to her work and her team. She often provides great support to the Project SEARCH interns. Her staff are able to go to her for support when needed.

Cheryl always has such a positive attitude in the mailroom. She is very patient and never fails to make others laugh. It is always a pleasure being around her.

Cheryl is extremely hard working. She believes in working hard and getting the job done. One of her skills I believe that shows her dedication is her ability to name any mail code. It is not uncommon for others to ask her for a code first. It is also not uncommon to see her going above and beyond out on the mail route learning new departments and their locations. She truly is a great example.

Cheryl is known to go on the mail route with her team to learn new departments, codes, and location etc. She will often go directly to departments to resolve any issues personally. She makes a conscious effort to ensure our interns are actively engaged in learning.

Clara Weinstock, DO, Assistant Professor of Medicine – Internal Medical Associates

Submitted by Elaine Gaston, Staff Nurse, UMG - General Medicine

Dr. Weinstock is one of our amazing providers in the Internal Medicine Department. She exemplifies teamwork daily, mostly in precepting the UCONN resident staff and working side by side with her medical assistant. She utilizes resources from this clinic and specialty areas to provide safe and effective patient care. Dr. Weinstock is one of the providers that has an urgent pre-op clinic, working with UCONN surgeons to safely care for patients not directly under her care.

Dr. Weinstock has an awesome attitude. She is always available to assist when needed, and provides great care to her patients. She is an active listener, and you feel her total attention when speaking with her. This is greatly appreciated by patients and staff. She makes sure to check in with her support staff, and has conversations to make sure all of her patients are well cared for and that the staff can continue to reinforce the most up to date plan of care.

Dr. Weinstock has a wonderful work ethic. She runs the Thursday residency clinic and works very closely with the residents to provide safe patient care while building their autonomy and knowledge base. She cares for a large, diverse patient population and often works beyond clinic hours to make sure all needs are met.

Dr. Weinstock continues to provide superior service to her patients, which greatly helps the support staff as well. Her time with her patients is very focused, and patients leave knowing their plan of care and feeling confident that their needs were met. She is always educating- residents, staff and patients, which only continues to strengthen our clinical practice. She is truly an inspiration and a great pleasure to work with.

TEAM Fall 2021

COVID Testing & Vaccine Operations Team

Team Members: I am going to state the leaders of the areas as this is a huge group of dedicated individuals, a true TEAM: Milissa Woodward — Telcom, Allyssa Cunningham, Kim Bailot — Compliance, Alex Garten , Keri Collard,Jennifer Hansen — COVID Call Center, David Banach, MD, Eric Mortensen, MD , Scott Allen, MD, Nancy Dupont, BSN RN — Clinical Experts, Chad Bianchi, Sarah Ginnetti, Dave Croke, Donna Hayes — Finance, Joanne Boucher, Sarah Tessier — Garage 1 and Vaccine, Jeff Blumenthal , Alesandra Hlaing — General Counsel, Karen Buffkin, Larry Pittman, Jessica Van Alstyne — HR, Adam Buckley, Cori Brown, Rob Chadd, Jack Trifilo, Laura Marquez, Marie Carney, Valerie DiDonato, Naomi Donat, Todd Jackson, Alka Sharma, David Sowalsky — IT, Enrique Ballesteros, Jessica Underwood — Lab Medicine, Cathy Cannon, Kristin Wallace, Jennifer Walker, Lauren Woods — Marketing & Communications, Andrea Keilty, Cindy Molin, Caryl Ryan— Operations, Kimberly Metcalf, Jared Rosenblatt — Pharmacy, Allan Peterson — Parking, Deb Abromaitis — Regulatory and so many more working behind the scenes!

Nominated by Anne Horbatuck, VP/COO Ambulatory Services, UMG-Administration

During this unprecedented time - the team has come together to implement so many components to operationalize testing and vaccines in a safe and effective manner.

This is an interdisciplinary team that exemplifies what TEAM really means. This is a group that really shows it takes a village...This group has come together for the safety of our patients, staff and community. From the moment people call to make an apt to be tested or schedule a vaccine (Telecom), to ordering the the testing, tracking and tracings (COVID & Vaccine Call Centers), the key providers that provide expertise and guidance, the Garage 1 testing site (ED after hours and Urgent Care when needed), to the registration and vaccine site administration, the lab who runs the tests, pharmacy to make sure we have the actual vaccines to administer, to parking, compliance, legal, HR, policy, regulatory, finance, operations, marketing and communication and last but not least our IT and EPIC team who behind the scenes makes this process flow. From our daily huddles, to weekly meetings where our dedicated staff focus on this continually changing environment, working with a positive attitude when changes hit and it is difficult to turn things around in a timely fashion. This group is dedicated, motivated, professional and most of all a true team. To our patients, staff, and community benefit from their hard work that they make look seamless, but for this team it is about delivering quality care and meeting the needs of our patients, staff, community and State in a very crazy Pandemic. This is truly a fantastic team that I am honored to be a part of - and thank them for their dedication!

 

Dental Finance

Team Members: TBA

Nominated by Sandra Finnimore, Project SEARCH Manager

The team in Dental Finance have always been so welcoming to our Project SEARCH interns. This year was especially difficult for our program with all the new precautions set in place. Nonetheless, the team in Dental Finance welcomed us back into their space with open arms. Everyone there is incredibly patient and supportive of our interns. They never fail to make our guys feel like a member of their team which unbeknownst to them, always makes a lasting impact on their confidence. They understand the true importance of fostering independence and continually go above and beyond to provide that. The Project SEARCH team is extremely grateful for all their support and dedication throughout the years.

Our program saw many obstacles this year. The Dental Finance team were always so understanding of any and all obstacles we faced. When we needed an unexpected placement for our last rotation, Dental Finance was very open to having us back. They always go above and beyond and are great in dedicating work for the interns to complete.

 

Endocrine Neoplasia Clinic Team

Team Members: Chelsea Alexander, MA; Maria Colan, COA; Cassandra De Valle, COA; Ann Marie Ewald, RN; Dena Larosa, RN; Sophie Masternak, Nurse Navigator; Danielle Millar, APRN; Glenda Rivera, MA

Nominated by Beth Pisarsky, Nurse Manager, Neag Cancer Center Unit

Together- This team works as a cohesive unit to ensure appropriate clinic workflow within the specialty of Endocrine Neoplasia. They function well together and meet the needs of their patients/ MDs. The MAs and RNs room patients, prepping slides for US-guided thyroid biopsies, answering triages calls, and assist patients in navigating complicated and complex diagnoses. The COAs coordinate booking f appointments for MDs/APRN/RNs. They see patients in the office for procedures, follow-up care/monitoring, and medication injections to manage their diagnoses. Effort- The endocrine neoplasia team has four MDs and one APRN. There is clinic five days per week and biopsies five days per week. The team sees around 130 patients per week. On average, 50-70 new patients per month start their care journey with the endocrine neoplasia team, which requires additional preparation and planning on the staff's part. Everyone puts their best effort forward, keeping the patient's needs as a top priority. Attitude- Everyone on this team keeps a positive attitude and works towards the common goal of providing excellent patient care at every interaction. Some patients experience anxiety when facing a cancer diagnosis. This team understands the importance of patience, compassion, and caring when working with the oncology population. Motivation- The staff working in the Endocrine Neoplasia team strive for excellence as individuals and a group. All members practice with a questioning attitude and look for opportunities to improve practice for themselves and other team members. They are motivated to bring about positive change to the cancer center and UConn Health as a whole.

All members of the team go above and beyond each day. Here are a few specifics about some team members: Dena is extremely organized and motivated. She can prioritize and work efficiently, for example diligently tracking authorizations for her patients’ tests and procedures. She follows up regularly to insure her patients are getting the necessary testing and procedures in a timely fashion. She has built a rapport with other departments and works collaboratively with interdisciplinary teams to make sure patients are getting the best care. Dena supports a growing department with multiple providers and has been described as the “glue that holds the team together.” Glenda and Chelsea have wonderful interpersonal skills, they have compassion and empathy for their patients. They work well with each other on supporting 5 providers. They prepare patients for providers office visits, they assist with thyroid biopsies, they help out tremendously with the large amount of e-triages that come through their clinic and they collect any additional data on patients when their providers request during or after visits. Chelsea has been a breath of fresh air addition to the team and definitely has made a difference in the MA morale of the team. Cassandra and Maria both practice with a high level of organization which is evidenced by how efficiently they complete their many responsibilities and meet deadlines. They have established and maintained effective workflows, specifically to process patient referrals in a timely manner. Additionally, A doctor recently retired from the endocrine neoplasia specialty. Both COA worked incredibly quickly and efficiently to reschedule several months of patients into the newer provider scheduled. They handled this stressful situation to transition his patients with diligence and professionalism.

Linen Team

Team Members: Sixto Avalos, Ashton Frame, Chris Furmanek, Ilir Hoxha, Frances Matos, Andrew Rostkowski

Nominated by Sandra Finnimore, Project SEARCH Manager, Human Resources

The Linen department has always been a huge supporter of our program. They are always so welcoming to our interns. They see the true importance of helping create independence within our interns. They treat each one as a meme bear of their team and continuously go above and beyond in providing support.

The team in the Linen department do a great job in teaching the importance of pace and great service. The different tasks within Linen incorporate all the skills that we strive to teach our interns. We are grateful for their continued support.

 

Submit a PAWS

Congratulations to the awardees! Do you know a UConn Health faculty, staff or volunteer who consistently performs above and beyond the expectations of their job, exhibiting being Part of a team, an Awesome attitude, a Wonderful Work Ethic, and Super Service? Complete a PAWS Award Nomination Form.

Nominate a TEAM

Is there a special work group, cross-functional work group, task force, special project team department or committee that demonstrates Togetherness, Effort, positive Attitude and Motivation that furthers the mission of UConn Health? complete the TEAM Award Nomination Form.