Month: January 2010

A Woman of Innovation

Women of InnovationI am very proud to announce that our colleague Dr. Marja M. Hurley was honored this week as one of the winners of the 2010 Women of Innovation Awards. The awards program, sponsored by the Connecticut Technology Council, recognizes women in the workforce who are innovators, role models and leaders in the technology, science and engineering fields.

Dr. Hurley is an accomplished endocrinologist, biomedical researcher, professor of medicine and an associate dean with both the School of Medicine and the School of Dental Medicine. For more than two decades, she has led the Health Center’s widely recognized Health Career Opportunity Programs and has helped hundreds of students from underrepresented minorities successfully pursue careers in medicine, dentistry and other health professions.

Today, the health careers program, known as the Aetna Health Professions Partnership Initiative, is an umbrella of innovative educational programs that reaches out to talented students from middle school, high school, college and graduate levels. Efforts are bolstered by mentoring and teaching support from UConn Health Center faculty in all disciplines including biomedical research, dentistry and clinical care.

In all aspects of her career, Dr. Hurley has been an exemplary role model, leader and innovator. She was joined by her husband and many colleagues Wednesday night when the award was announced. On behalf of the entire Health Center community, I’m delighted to extend my congratulations as well.

New Year’s Message

As we begin this New Year, I want to thank everyone for your collective efforts every day to make the Health Center successful. Because of you, I am confident we have the talent, dedication and commitment to achieve our goal of becoming a top tier institution.

As a force dedicated to the betterment of people, you have shown, time and again, your compassion and empathy for our community and our world, including recent response efforts to help the people of Haiti. Later today, President Hogan and I will send messages with additional information about how we can help the recovery effort.

Looking back, last year presented many challenges and successes. While our aspiration to join the ranks of the nation’s top tier academic medical centers would have been catalyzed by the proposed partnership with Hartford Healthcare Corp, it never relied on its successful completion. Looking forward, we are initiating new strategic and capital planning processes to establish new paths forward to achieving that goal.

We have many reasons to be hopeful. One of the most encouraging signs has been the improved financial picture we have seen in the last six months. This is a testament to your hard work and the willingness of our elected officials to invest in the Health Center. While I remain cautious in my optimism, our financial projections suggest that we will finish this fiscal year on budget. John Biancamano, our Chief Financial Officer, and his team deserve a lot of credit for helping to stabilize our finances.

At the end of last year, our hospital received a very favorable site visit by the Joint Commission. We are looking forward to the announcement of the survey results in the next few months. This, coupled with the recent news of the Department of Public Health’s decision to end our probationary status one year early, culminates a year-long effort by our hospital management team and hospital staff to improve quality and strengthen patient safety throughout the Health Center. I want to express my appreciation to Dr. Mike Summerer, the Hospital Director; Ms. Ellen Leone, AVP and Director of Nursing; and Ann Marie Capo, AVP for Quality Programs for leading this effort and the many, many individuals who devoted time and effort to bring about this success.

In addition, our research enterprise is experiencing record levels of new grant awards thanks to the ARRA program and our exceptional faculty. A number of major institutional grants have received very strong scores, and I hope to announce the awards soon. I need to commend Dr. Marc Lalande, Senior Associate Dean for Research, and our outstanding staff at the Office of Sponsored Programs lead by Dana Carroll. Looking to the future, it is clear we must continue to grow our research base and we have begun several new searches for basic science faculty in accordance with the research strategic plan of the Research Council.

Our academic mission continues to flourish. The School of Dental Medicine, under the direction of Dr. Monty MacNeil, experienced a very successful re-accreditation site visit during the past year. We believe we will continue that success later this month when the School of Medicine will undergo its seven-year LCME re-accreditation visit. Thanks to the careful planning and vision of many academic leaders, including Drs. Casey Jacob and Bruce Koeppen, we feel ready for this visit.

The Health Center is well positioned, on all fronts, for a year of rapid movement and continued success. While many challenges remain, I am convinced that becoming a top tier health center is, in fact, attainable. I look forward to working with you on many of these initiatives. Together, we will go far.

White House Reception

Presidential Award of Excellence It was a great honor for me this week to be surrounded by a group of recognized educators and to have the privilege of meeting President Obama during an inspiring awards ceremony at the White House.

Mentoring aspiring physicians and researchers continues to be one of the most gratifying aspects of my career. I accepted the Presidential Award of Excellence on behalf of all the students I have had the privilege of mentoring through the years.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Health Care Bills

As you know, the U.S. House and Senate both passed versions of health care reform legislation at the end of 2009. This year, the two Chambers will work together to create the final legislation.

The following link takes you to a side-by-side comparison of the two bills. I hope you will find it helpful. As the debate continues, it is important for all of us in healthcare to understand the scope of reach of the proposed bills.