Patient Care

Regenerative Engineering Solutions to Rotator Cuff Tears

By Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.

Regenerative Engineering Solutions to Rotator Cuff TearsRotator cuff tears represent a large proportion of musculoskeletal injuries attended by clinics, thereby making rotator cuff repair surgeries one of the most widely performed musculoskeletal procedures. Despite the high incidence rate of rotator cuff tears, operative treatments have provided minimal functional gains and suffer from high re-tear rates.

I am happy to report that recent data from the Institute for Regenerative Engineering suggest that the regenerative engineering technique can be useful for improved healing of torn rotator cuff tendons. Specifically, our team used a nano-based biomaterial matrix conducive to growing stem cells, and combined it with adult stem cells. The results are promising, but our group must continue working for some time before the process can be applied to humans. Our results were published in the prestigious journal PLoS One earlier this month. The paper represents a novel treatment paradigm for the treatment of massive rotator cuff tendon tears. In addition, our work has been highlighted by the NIH Research Matters. Thanks to the NIH, the NSF and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation for their support of our work.

Planning Session to Defend Against the Zika Virus

By Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.

As an elected fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, last month, I was chosen as 1 of 15 people to attend the Global Research Collaborative for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R) in Washington, DC. GloPID-R is a network of research funding organizations in the area of infectious-disease preparedness. By pooling research funding organizations on a global scale, they can facilitate an effective research response within 48 hours of a significant outbreak of a new or remerging infectious disease with pandemic potential. The high-level discussion session was led by Line Mathiessen of GloPID-R and Nicole Lurie, M.D., MSPH, the US Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. My role on the discussion panel was to provide recommendations on mapping out a global plan to deal with the Zika virus running rampant in South America and Latin America. I found the planning session challenging and look forward to further discussions.

The HEAL Project Discussion on “The Stan Simpson Show”

Dr. Cato Laurencin and Stan SimpsonLast month, Stan Simpson, host of “The Stan Simpson Show” on Fox CT, invited me to be a guest on his show for the second time. During the interview, I explained our current research initiative named “Hartford Engineering A Limb” (HEAL) at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. The project’s goal is to regenerate a human knee in seven years and a whole limb in fifteen. The field of regenerative engineering is still in its infancy, and through the HEAL project, we are hoping to utilize this new approach to bring life-changing breakthroughs to patients. The interview can be seen on the web, please visit the following link:

Hartford Region Gains National Attention

The current issue of Forbes Magazine features information about the Hartford region and its potential to become a nationally-recognized healthcare destination. The Health Center was pleased to participate in interviews for this feature. With the recent passage of the UConn Health Network legislation, this information is very timely. I am linking the piece for your perusal.
View the article >

Nightingale Awards

Commemorating the evening with some of the Nightingale Award winners.
Commemorating the evening with some of the Nightingale Award winners.

It was my honor to attend the recent Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing reception. The Nightingale Awards for Excellence is Connecticut’s largest statewide nursing recognition program which pays tribute to nurses from throughout the region who personify excellence in their profession. Personally, I was especially proud to represent the UConn Health Center and the 10 Nightingale winners from throughout the Health Center. It was also gratifying to spend time with the Health Center winners and to learn more about the challenges and rewards of their careers.

Every day – in areas including our life-saving cardiac catheterization lab; our scleroderma service, part of the New England Musculoskeletal Institute; Correctional Managed Care; the NICU and more – these nurses advocate for patients and families, mentor colleagues and students and embrace creative, quality-improvement initiatives. Their work improves the lives of our patients on many levels and in many ways, and at the same time, inspires their peers and other members of our medical teams.

As an orthopaedic surgeon, I fully appreciate the vital role nurses play in the well-being of our patients. I am very proud of the UConn Health Center award winners and all nurses who contribute to the health of our region. Congratulations!

New England Musculoskeletal Institute A “Blue Distinction” Center

The UConn Health Center's New England Musculoskeletal Institute has been named a Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery as well as a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. Logo courtesy of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Connecticut.
The UConn Health Center’s New England Musculoskeletal Institute has been named a Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery as well as a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement.
Logo courtesy of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Connecticut.

I am proud to announce that the New England Musculoskeletal Institute has been designated as both a Blue Distinction Center® for Spine Surgery and Knee and Hip Replacement by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut. Blue Distinction® is a designation awarded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality healthcare. The designation is based on rigorous, evidence-based, objective selection criteria established in collaboration with expert physicians’ and medical organizations’ recommendations. Its goal is to help consumers find quality specialty care on a consistent basis, while enabling and encouraging healthcare professionals to improve the overall quality and delivery of care nationwide.

The designation affirms the high-quality, expertise care that is delivered by the providers at the New England Musculoskeletal Institute every day. It also demonstrates the Health Center’s commitment to providing quality care and better overall patient outcomes particularly for knee and hip replacement procedures and spine surgery.

Sincere congratulations. What a team!

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.

Know Better Care

A NICU advanced practice registered nurse sent me the following example of how our Health Center staff works under stressful conditions. It is a wonderful story about a professional, caring, and compassionate team that quietly goes about excellence day in and day out. Thank you for sharing your story.

Dr. Laurencin, I would like to tell you of an event that reminded me why our NICU is so incredible not only because of the great work we do but also because of the incredibly talented, caring staff that continue to provide the highest level of care imaginable.

I was on Saturday night when we received a call from the ER asking for help with a code of a 23-week gestational age infant that was born at home and was being brought in by the EMT’s. We gathered a team of myself, our PA, four nurses and our respiratory therapists. When the infant was brought in, the EMT’s transferred care to us (they did an amazing job at keeping this tiny infant alive for 1/2 hour). Being the team leader, I intubated the infant and instructed the resuscitation. I use the word instructed loosely because after working with such highly skilled nurses for so many years they intuitively knew what I needed before I even asked. As my requests came out of my mouth, the ETT, meds, lines, and blood work were already being performed before I could complete my sentence. The staff did such an amazing job because we work so fluidly with each other and know our job so very well. Even with the stress and apparent futility of the situation, all involved worked diligently and professionally to give this tiny infant and his family the best possible outcome. The caring and compassion that the team showed the family members brought tears to my eyes. Giving a family the best possible minutes of a short life was never better displayed than at this time. I could feel the nurses gather the family under an umbrella of warmth and understanding just by their kind words and gentle hands, helping them cope with the grief of losing this tiny baby.

I would like to thank Joe Varano, Pam Marino, Viv Hary, Bridget Krauss, and Torylynn Gagnon for their incredible talent and compassion as neonatal caregivers. I am so proud to be called a member of this team. I can never imagine being able to provide better care than what is found within the home of our NICU and the people who make up our family. I also would like to thank the ER team that helped us, especially Kathy who was our foundation in the unfamiliar setting of the emergency department. Without her help our job would have been much more difficult than it already was. Thank you for your time.

-Wendy Petow A.P.R.N.

Cutting the Ribbon for the New William Raveis-American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program

First row, from the left, Sarah Shafir, state vice president of health initiatives for the American Cancer Society; Carolyn Deal, recently retired president and COO of William Raveis Real Estate; and William Raveis, chairman and CEO. Back row: James Thibeault, signature program director, Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center and Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., vice president for health affairs and dean, UConn School of Medicine.

On Monday, I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony and dedication of the William Raveis-American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program at the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center. The patient navigator program provides free and confidential guidance and support to cancer patients. Attending the dedication reminded me that receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing experience for patients, their families and their caregivers and that no one should have to go through it alone. Navigators provide support every step of the way, from explaining what to expect with therapy, to making sure patients have transportation to and from appointments.

The program was made possible by a groundbreaking pledge of $750,000 from the William Raveis Charitable Fund. The commitment by top leaders at William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance has been outstanding. They have engaged all of their employees to help raise funds for this cause. The gift enabled the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center to partner with the American Cancer Society to launch the patient navigator program and to provide attractive, physical space for patients and families to meet with the navigator program staff.