Points of Pride

COI Leads Nation to Advanced Spine Surgery Certification

Helayne Lightstone

The Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute (COI) at MidState Medical Center is the first in the country to earn Advanced Certification in Spine Surgery from The Joint Commission (TJC). 

“This achievement demonstrates the commitment of our surgeons and staff at the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute to high-quality patient care,” said Dr. John McCallum, COI medical director. “As the first in the country to receive this distinction, combined with our advanced certification in hip and knee replacement, our program provides a destination, right here in Connecticut, where patients have access to some of the best care in the entire country.” 

Certification followed a rigorous two-day, in-person review by TJC, an independent organization dedicated to improving healthcare for the public. The evaluation validated COI’s pre-operative care and education; standardization of practices, procedures and care for patients; and emphasized everything from pre- to post-operative consults with the spine surgeons to communication and collaboration between clinicians.

The evaluation validated COI’s pre-operative care and education; standardization of practices, procedures and care for patients; and emphasized everything from pre- to post-operative consults with the spine surgeons to communication and collaboration between clinicians.

TJC’s team determined COI met rigorous standards of care based on data collection guidelines, and participates, as required, in the American Spine Registry, which measures clinical complications and outcomes. To be eligible for the certification, COI must have served at least 200 spine patients. 

“Our first-in-the-nation achievement of this certification is a testament to the exceptional, patient-centered, coordinated care for spinal surgery patients,” said Dr. Joel Bauman, chief of neurosurgery for Hartford HealthCare’s Central Region. “Our first-class multidisciplinary team has led the way to improved spine surgery experiences and outcomes. We look forward to the continuous improvement journey in care of our spine surgery patients in the years to come.” 

Moments - COI

Dr. John Beiner, center, holds the plaque designating the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute (COI) at MidState Medical Center the first in the country to earn Advanced Certification in Spine Surgery from The Joint Commission. He is joined by other members of MidState’s COI team. Photo by: Rusty Kimball

Cheshire Site Expands Access for Behavioral Health Patients

Kate Carey-Trull

The Anxiety Disorders Center expanded its state coverage with the opening of a new satellite clinic at 680 South Main St., Cheshire.

Three psychologists at the clinic offer group and individual outpatient therapy for adults, adolescents and children with anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, PTSD, and children with school refusal issues.

“Having another location allows us to be able to offer more services to those in need,” said Dr. Scott Hannan, clinical psychologist and program manager. “We also are doing research, which enables us to advance the work we do. We currently do our research primarily in Hartford, but are looking into doing different studies in the future there as well, and the information we gather helps us improve our treatments.”

Most therapies are short term, typically with 15 to 30 sessions, Dr. Hannan said. The clinic offers some intensive therapy as well, which may start with daily sessions.

“We offer coping strategies to help people face their fears and challenge their anxious thoughts,” he said. “It offers long-term change to how the

body reacts to anxiety and helps them engage in activities they might fear.”

Next door, Rushford’s Medication Assisted Treatment Close to Home (MATCH) Cheshire location has relocated to a larger space, offering adults partial hospitalization program, intensive outpatient program and outpatient programs for mental health and substance use disorders. In addition, MATCH has a dedicated recovery support specialist trained as a certified yoga instructor.

“Yoga, meditation and mindfulness skills are integrated into each of our programs, and it has helped our clients learn how to manage their symptoms in a different way. We now have a beautiful wellness room where clients can access these services,” said Meagen Yacobino, program manager.

The program, she said, has been able to have most clients back for in-person care while continuing to offer virtual treatment to meet the community’s access needs.

“We have gotten a lot of great feedback about the new space and how comfortable it is,” she said.

New office space in Cheshire helps the Anxiety Disorders Center team meet the needs of adults, adolescents and children with anxiety disorders and other mental health concerns. The same building also houses a new Medication Assisted Treatment Close to Home location. Photo by Chris Rakoczy

Trailblazing SVMC Surgeon to Lay Down Scalpel

Danielle Swift

Moments - Anthy DemestihasFrom the start, Dr. Anthy Demestihas, Hartford HealthCare Medical Group, stood out from the pack, with exceptional surgical skills and devotion to the most vulnerable, leading her to develop a breast program at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. Her spunky nature helped her forge new paths for surgeons, especially women. 

After 30 years addressing the needs of patients and hundreds of surgeons and medical students, Dr. Demestihas will retire in February. 

While she began as a general surgeon in 2007, she answered the call to consult on breast health and breast cancer cases at the Family Health Center. Her first patient made such an impression, she recalls every detail.

“She was only 32 with a suspicious lump in her breast. She had a newborn so my colleagues thought it was likely postpartum-related.

But, after reviewing the images, I knew in my gut it was something more serious,” Dr. Demestihas said. 

The woman, in fact, had triple-negative breast cancer and was terrified. The developing breast team, however, intervened and she remains in good health. 

Before they were common, Dr. Demestihas nurtured this seedling idea for a breast services program at the Family Health Center. Components were added each year until the program grew to a preeminent Breast Health Center. Little did she know that she would benefit from the program when she faced a breast cancer diagnosis, surgery and radiation in 2013. 

“I could have gone anywhere for care but this team had cared for my family and cares for me. I knew I was in good hands,” she said of the experience that changed her. “It made me even more compassionate with patients. I could relate to the emotions.” 

Named chairperson of the Department of Surgery a year later, Dr. Demestihas was one of just 13 women in the country holding the title, and the first in Connecticut. 

Karen Fasano Named “Leading Lady”

Bryan Spyros

Central Region Vice President of Patient Care Services Karen Fasano, RN, MSN, MBA, received the 2021 Southington Leading Ladies Award. 

The award celebrates women in the Southington community who make a difference through their job, politics or volunteerism. Fasano was recognized for her commitment to The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC) Bradley Campus, especially for tapping campus resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Karen was one of the people who was instrumental in utilizing Bradley’s resources when we saw surges in COVID-19 cases. She worked closely with nursing managers to help increase inpatient capacity, which proved invaluable. Bradley was able to care for COVID patients who were sick, but not critically ill,” said Stephanie Armelin, director of Strategic Planning and Business Development for the Central Region, who nominated Fasano for the award. 

“This methodical utilization of resources proved extremely beneficial because it helped free up space at HOCC New Britain and MidState Medical Center, where colleagues were seeing a high volume of COVID-19 patients.”

Fasano oversees nursing operations at the Bradley campus, a place with special meaning to her because she worked there as a supervisor.

Moments - Karen Fasano

“Karen is a role model and her heart is deeply immersed in nursing and providing exceptional, high-quality care to our communities,” Armelin said. 



Residency Trains Next Generation of PTs

Ken Harrison

Moments - PT

Physical therapy residents, from left to right: Jackie McGuire, Jacob Smith, Ian Hazelton, Mike Gans, Brian Swanson, Seth Hagymasi, Jon Sylvain, Daya Constance, Kathy Andres and Joe Grabicki. Photo by Cindi Delaurentis 

In an effort to help train the next generation of physical therapy clinicians, researchers and scholars, the Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network (HHCRN) and University of Hartford Physical Therapy Department began an Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency Program in 2021.

The hybrid residency model capitalizes on the expertise of the highly-trained clinicians, faculty and staff from both organizations. Residents are educated and mentored in orthopedic physical therapy, scholarly activity and instructing entry-level DPT students.

The program is focused on experiential learning and mentoring, supplemented by didactic education. Mentoring is provided by board-certified physical therapy specialists and collegiate faculty in office, classroom and clinical settings.

“We are very excited about this opportunity, Thanks to Clinic Program Director Jon Sylvain and Vice President of Clinical Services Cindi Delaurentis for setting a vision of best practice, high-quality rehab programming,” said Chris Carlin, HHCRN vice president. “It will assist us in attracting top talent in the field of physical therapy, which, in turn, helps us provide high-quality, best practice rehab programming.”

Other goals of the residency program include:

• Advancing the profession of physical therapy, specifically orthopedic physical therapy, by developing clinicians and promoting a commitment to lifelong learning, teaching and scholarship.

• Recruiting and retaining motivated physical therapists committed to advancing their orthopedic clinical reasoning and leadership skills.

• Improving patient access to highly-qualified orthopedic physical therapists.

• Preparing graduates to meet the requirements to test for national certification.