Points of Pride

SSO teams making it matter

This spring, for the first time since the Every Moment Matters (EMM) program launched, colleagues at the System Support Office were recognized for the extra effort they show in their work. The honorees were:

By Shawn Mawhiney

  • Carolyn Bousquet, Manager, Community Care Center (CCC)
  • Carolyn smoothly adapted the CCC to meet ever-evolving needs –— from answering COVID questions to providing testing and, finally, to scheduling vaccinations.
  • Linda Brannan, Manager, Executive Services
  • Whether you’re a visitor or a colleague, Linda will do whatever it takes to make sure you have an exceptional experience, thanks to her commitment and can-do attitude.
  • Quian Callender, Health Equity Champion
  • As an advocate for people who haven’t always had equal access to healthcare, Quian uses his voice to represent theirs, helping us provide more care in more communities across Connecticut.
  • Allan Choiniere, Senior Systems Engineer in Technology Services
  • Besides everything he brings to the table as a senior systems engineer, Allan is also much appreciated for keeping his department’s break room fully stocked with snacks, candy and even frozen meals.
  • Clare Cryar, Manager, COVID Central Scheduling
  • When COVID testing and vaccinations created new process and technical challenges, Clare helped operationalize and standardize our IT systems to help our efforts run smoothly and efficiently.
  • Salvatore DiNino, Graphic Designer
  • From the biggest billboards to the smallest design details, Sal is always ready to bring our brand to life, using his creativity and an always cooperative and collaborative attitude.
  • Susan Gagliardi, Senior Contracts Administrator
  • Susan makes every one of her team members feel special and thought ob by always remembering and recognizing birthdays and special occasions with fresh-baked cookies and flowers.
  • Alysia Gibbs, Manager, Financial Clearance
  • As a manager with financial clearance, Alysia continually models H3W leadership behaviors with her constant focus on making improvements based on constructive feedback from her team.
  • Melinda Lodge, Project Coordinator, Mobile Vaccination Clinics
  • Bringing COVID testing and vaccinations out into the community isn’t easy, but Melinda made it happen, constantly adapting and evolving to different environments and new challenges.
  • Melissa Morgera, Director of Quality and Patient Safety, BHN
  • Melissa ensures the highest levels of quality for our patients, both through her own actions and by being a mentor to her team members. She’s always ready to step up when needed.
  • Abdul Musa, Senior Project Manager
  • Abdul makes the most of every meeting by identifying issues and risks with his team and figuring out the best ways to move projects forward — all with his positive, can-do attitude.
  • Roshni Patel, Director of Operations
  • Roshni is always looking for ways to add value at every moment, and it shows in her attention to detail, personal accountability and commitment to service excellence. She truly makes a difference.
  • Elizabeth Purcell, HR Quality Assurance Analyst, Employee Service Center
  • Elizabeth is passionate about improvements — from processes to personal ones. She constantly contributes ideas and her trademark kindness that has benefitted many community events.

Exoskeleton paves walk to ‘normal’

By Ken Harrison

David MacDonald loves being outdoors, enjoying nature and hiking the woods and hills of western Connecticut.

A stroke, however, left him unable to move his left arm and leg. He knew he had a long road ahead, beginning on Hartford Hospital’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit (IRU). Part of his therapy was using an EKSO Bionics exoskeletal suit, a wearable robotic exoskeleton designed to help patients with stroke, traumatic spinal cord and acquired brain injuries relearn to walk by correcting step patterns, assisting with proper weight shifting and improving posture.

The device, purchased with a Hartford Hospital Auxiliary grant, is one of only three in the state and the only one currently used for inpatient rehab.

“Recovering the ability to walk is often the patient’s number one goal after an injury,” said Shantel Szymanski, Neurological Rehabilitation Program manager for Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network.

The therapists on the IRU are very excited to use this innovative tool to get people up and walking earlier and further, and help them achieve their goals.”

“The device helps promote early mobilization and can help improve gait speed and distance, which are critical factors for optimal recovery,” added Dr. David Monti, IRU medical director. “We feel fortunate to offer this technology to patients and it helps position us further as the leading option for inpatient rehabilitation in the area.”

After two weeks, MacDonald was cleared to go home, something he believes wouldn’t have been possible without the IRU team’s expert care and technology like the EKSO.

“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know I can get back to normal again,” he said.

Student Kelsey Kreminic, left, and Shantel Szymanski, PT, Neurological Program manager, right, help David MacDonald relearn how to walk properly with an exoskeletal suit.

Photo by Chris Rakoczy

A tree grows in the ED

by Danielle Swift

Colleagues at St. Vincent’s Medical Center joined forces earlier this year to have a majestic piece of artwork called the Tree of Life strategically displayed in the hospital’s Emergency Department to provide a sense of hope and strength to family members of patients there. 

A symbol of strength and beauty, the Tree of Life represents our personal development, uniqueness and individual beauty. Just as the branches of a tree strengthen and grow upwards to the sky, so, too, do we grow stronger, striving for greater knowledge, wisdom and new experiences as we move through life. 

A symbol of strength and beauty, the Tree of Life represents our personal development, uniqueness and individual beauty. Just as the branches of a tree strengthen and grow upwards to the sky, so, too, do we grow stronger, striving for greater knowledge, wisdom and new experiences as we move through life.

From left to right, Teresa Peterkin, Izzy Marrero, Ann Gorton and Andy Moore stand beside the beautiful Tree of Life on display outside the family bereavement room in the hospital’s Emergency Department.

Photo by Anne Rondepierre-Riczu

A new vision comes to St. Vincent’s

By John Tejada

Most working in healthcare in Fairfield County know the name William Jennings, who served eight years as CEO of Bridgeport Hospital and executive vice president of Yale-New Haven Health.

During his tenure, Bridgeport grew production by 66 percent with a dramatic decrease in safety events.

Jennings now brings that record of growth and excellence to St. Vincent’s Medical Center (SVMC).

“I want to grow points of access in Fairfield County and improve the standard of care,” said the incoming president of Hartford HealthCare’s Fairfield Region. “I want to connect with the community in a more intimate way, in all aspects of community service. I want to completely transform and improve the organization’s service excellence.”

Jennings comes from Tower Health, a seven-hospital system in southeastern Pennsylvania, where he was an executive vice president and president/CEO of the flagship 714-bed Reading Hospital. The move from Bridgeport to Pennsylvania, he said, was for the opportunity to help grow a fledgling system. Having done so, the time is right to return to Connecticut.

“We look forward to getting down the beach, coincidentally Jennings Beach in Fairfield,” said Jennings, including his wife. “Lots of restaurants we love, lots of walking spaces that we love. We are looking forward to the new Hartford HealthCare arena. But, the thing we really missed the most is the people, and we are already reconnecting with some of those folks.”

Part of the Fairfield community for nearly a decade, Jennings knows the quality and talent of SVMC colleagues, for whom he hopes to be more than just a manager.

“My function is leadership, to lead the efforts of Hartford HealthCare, the medical staff, the colleagues and the community to improve the health of the community,” said Jennings. “Leading is very different from managing. We have a distinguished group of physician leaders, managers and vice presidents at the hospital. My responsibility is to lead the vision and ensure we execute it to satisfaction of the community.”

For Jennings, it’s not about fixing what’s wrong, but finding out what’s possible.

“My message is I am devoted to the patient and the community. We are going to live in Fairfield, again, and I know the area very well so there will be no learning curve. My message is we are here to improve the standard of care and access for the entire community,” he explained.

William Jennings, President Hartford HealthCare’s Fairfield Region

Setting a new care standard for orthopaedics at St. Vincent’s

By John Tejada

Bringing together some of the state’s best orthopaedic surgeons, Hartford HealthCare opened a new Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute location at St. Vincent’s Medical Center (SVMC) in May.

Modeled after the highly successful institute at MidState Medical Center, the SVMC site involved a complete revamping of the entire program, making patient outcomes and experience the top priority.

Two areas of SVMC were renovated and modernized to bring a concierge experience to orthopaedic patients in the area and their guests.

Located on the third floor, the 2,700-square-foot amenity-filled galleria features new patient- and family-friendly check-in and waiting areas, private registration, and private consultation rooms.

The seventh floor Inpatient Unit was also updated and now features 21 private rooms and bathrooms, a full private kitchen, nourishment station, physical therapy center and other special amenities.

“Every acute care hospital in the country is providing orthopaedic surgery. What makes this approach so unique is the physician-led oversight of the program and a concierge approach to the patient experience,” said Fairfield Region President Vince DiBattista.

“We have created a destination center for comprehensive care resulting in superior experience and higher quality outcomes for both the patient and physician.”


Orthopaedic patients are welcomed to bright new space and 21 private rooms at the new Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute location at St. Vincent’s Medical Center.

Photo by Rusty Kimball 

Caregivers in cornettes: A SVMC fashion statement

By Anne Rondepierre-Riczu

Until 1964, the hallways of St. Vincent’s Medical Center were crowded with headpieces, specifically the starched white cornettes donned by the Daughters of Charity working there.

Members of the religious order the Daughters of Charity, a Roman Catholic order created in France to minister to the poor and sick, started wearing the cornette as part of their habits in 1685, and the piece eventually became the group’s most recognizable mark.

In its origin, the headpiece was smaller, resembling a veiled piece of fabric that had actually been designed to reflect the peasant dress style common in 17th-century France.

Over time and with much added starch, the cornette evolved to a headpiece that was often referred to as “wings” and which earned the Daughters of Charity the nickname “butterfly nuns” in Ireland.

As decades passed and the reality of the sisters’ lives changed, so did their habit. In the middle of the 20th century, sisters began driving cars more regularly and found themselves working as surgical nurses. There was a desire to simplify the attire and, today, Daughters of Charity wear a simple blue dress or a blue skirt and blouse. They can also choose to wear a coiffe, or veil, or not.

The cornette, seen in this archival photo at left, was worn by the Daughters of Charity, who founded St. Vincent’s Medical Center (SVMC) in 1903.

Photo by John Tejada

Today, in the hospital lobby, a display of cornettes greets patients, visitors and colleagues. It was a dedication to SVMC President and CEO Susan L. Davis upon her departure in 2013.