EMMie Awards

EMMie Awards recognize link between engagement and experience

by Matt Clyburn

We’ve all known someone who seems to be incredibly engaged: That person who feels emotionally connected to where they work and what they do, who volunteers discretionary effort constantly or sets time aside to coach and mentor others.

When you work with someone like that, it makes your work more fulfilling, and makes even the most difficult situations a little easier to manage. Research tells us that engaged healthcare employees also provide a better experience to patients, families, visitors and other members of the community.

As Hartford HealthCare works toward its goal of being No. 1 for customer experience by 2023 (#123), nurturing an engaged workforce is more important than ever. Last spring, we launched the first EMMie awards, backed by a $1.1-million system investment. The awards are named for our experience promise: Every Moment Matters.

Last April, 29 finalists and four winners were recognized. The awards honored colleagues making a positive impact by putting a specific Hartford HealthCare value into practice. But, the EMMie Awards aren’t only a trophy. The honor comes with two remarkable ways to make a lasting impact.

First, Hartford HealthCare donated $100,000 to healthcare-related charities — four $25,000 donations — to honor each EMMie winner. Next, system leadership allocated $1 million to projects within Hartford HealthCare to help make every moment matter for our customers — that’s $250,000 in honor of each winner. The winners have allocated their donations and their projects are underway as we look forward to recognizing our 2020 EMMie winners in April.

Congratulations to our 2019 EMMie Award winners!

2020 Nominations Nominations for this year’s EMMie Awards started rolling in on January 16.

Visit hartfordhealthcare.org/emmies2020 to learn how to nominate a colleague who makes every moment matter.

Ann Vale, Nurse Manager, Hartford Hospital

Excellence in Practice EMMie Award for Continuous Improvement

Charitable donation: American Heart Association
The American Heart Association plays a key role in funding research, programs and services about cardiovascular health. They also support education by teaching people about how to reduce risk. “I have spent more than 30 years working in the field of cardiac surgery,” Vale said. “I have seen real progress toward improving quality of life for the sickest heart patients.” Her choice will help ensure this progress continues.

Hartford HealthCare project: Music therapy at Hartford Hospital
Vale’s project will bring the healing power of music to Hartford Hospital patients. She is researching the best way to make this a reality, working with advanced practice nurses Kristin Moquin and Bliss DaSilva, who are advocates of holistic care. “Research demonstrates that music therapy is beneficial to relieve pain, anxiety and helping patients sleep,” she said. “Ideally, this project will include a research component to build more evidence on the benefits of music therapy and how it can be used most effectively.”

Lynn Kalinowski, Registered Nurse, MidState Medical Center

Great Catch EMMie Award for Safety

Charitable donation: Food Allergy Research and Education
Food allergies affect one out of every 13 Americans, including Kalinowski and her 4-year-old son. “Food Allergy Research and Education not only conducts critical research,” she said, “they also offer a wealth of information through webinars, conferences, publications and clinical trials. With so many people affected by food allergies, we can be sure that the patients of Hartford HealthCare can benefit from all the resources they provide.” With more research, she hopes we can continue learning why the number of people affected by extensive food allergies has been skyrocketing in recent years.

Hartford HealthCare project: State-of-the-art ‘smart’ intensive care unit (ICU) for MidState Medical Center
Most ICUs are built using decades-old design practices. When things get busy in the room, the result can be chaotic: disorganized medical devices, tangled wires and dozens of alarms competing for the team’s attention. “Smart” ICUs are designed to focus on functionality, ease of use, healing, safety, infection control, communications and connectivity. “I am working to transform the nine-bed ICU at MidState into a smart — or technologically advanced — ICU,” she said. “Through advances in technology, we can make the patient and staff experience in critical care more comfortable and streamlined.”

Thomas Buczynski, Staff Nurse, The Hospital of Central Connecticut

Customer’s Choice Award for Creating an Exceptional Experience

Charitable donation: Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR)
A grassroots organization started more than 20 years ago, CCAR’s mission is assisting people going through drug and alcohol recovery. Many coming to the acute behavioral unit where Buczynksi works are desperate to get into treatment. “Our nursing staff calls CCAR and a recovery coach meets with the patient within a matter of hours,” Buczynski said. “After assessing the patients’ needs, they are often able to get them into the appropriate programs right away. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the organization and we are so grateful for the work that they do.”

Hartford HealthCare project: Patio to allow outdoor recreation for behavioral health patients at HOCC
Being in an inpatient psychiatric unit can be an unnerving situation for patients. “While we have a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility at HOCC, it can become claustrophobic to patients — particularly to those who have been there for a long time,” Buczynski said. “Patients often talk about how they would like to get fresh air and there is currently no way to enable this to happen.” His project will construct an outdoor balcony or patio space where patients can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of fresh air in a safe, enclosed area. “I am very excited about this project and I firmly believe that it will be an asset to the patients as part of their psychiatric care,” he said.

Marisol Caraballo, Housekeeper, Natchaug Hospital

Caught in the Act Award for Integrity

Charitable donation: Autism research and programs
Caraballo’s relationship with her grandson inspired her to think about contributing her share of the EMMie award to an organization focused on autism. Her first-hand experience, with her grandson and autistic children on Natchaug’s inpatient unit, gives her an appreciation for the impact of the right support and programs.

Hartford HealthCare project: Playground at Natchaug
Whenever Caraballo isn’t at work, she’s spending quality time with her seven grandchildren, ranging in age from 2 to 17. She understands the value of play and wants to make sure the children at Natchaug have a clean, safe place to be a kid. “I spend a lot of time with our young clients and their families, and sometimes they just need to have fun together,” she said. “I hope this playground will be a nice way to makes things better for the young people who visit us.”