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The Pulse Marks One Year Anniversary

A night view of University Tower at UConn John Dempsey Hospital (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health) Commercial Shoot, March 9-10, 2016 Health, Safety and Environment Fair 2016 UConn Health building An email inbox Womens Center Sees First Patients WE-BELIEVE-IN-POSSIBLE New Academic Rotunda Building 20, constructed in 1990 for extra office space at UConn Health, in the process of being demolished. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)
Hard to believe, but it’s been a year since we posted our first issue of The Pulse. We told you then that our goal was to highlight what really makes UConn Health tick and we’ve done our best to do that each and every week. A whole lot has happened here since we posted Issue 1 so we wanted to take a few moments to stroll down memory lane and present you with a visual reminder of some of the major milestones.

Phishing Tips: Beware of Email Links and Attachments

Recently, some Connecticut state employees responded to a well-crafted “phishing” email directing them to click on a link to what appeared to be the CORE-CT website in order to retrieve their W-2.  This was a fake website, and the employees who followed the link and entered user ID and password unwittingly gave the perpetrators access to their CORE-CT login credentials and all of the personal information contained there, such as Social Security number, home address, birth date, etc.

Armed with this information cybercriminals can file a phony income tax return in your name, open credit card accounts and attempt to steal funds in your bank accounts or retirement savings accounts.

Here are some tips to protect yourself from phishing:

How to Spot a Phishing Email

Phishing is a deceptive attempt to pose as a reputable entity or person in electronic communications, such as email, IM or social networking.

Unofficial “From” Address.  Look for a sender’s email address that is slightly different (but similar to) an official email address.  The most recent phishing attack came from an e-mail address that read: donotreply@ct.gov <ssellick@tbaytel.net>.  The second part of the email address shows that it came from outside the system.

Urgent Call for Action. Cyber criminals include urgent “calls to action” in emails to get you to react immediately. Be wary of emails containing phrases like “your account will be closed,” “your account has been compromised,” or “urgent action required.” The cybercriminal is taking advantage of your concern to trick you into providing confidential information immediately.

Generic Greetings. Cyber criminals send thousands of phishing emails at a time. They may have your email address, but they seldom have your name. Be skeptical of an email sent with generic greetings, such as “Dear Customer” or “Dear Member.” The most recent attack targeted our state’s Enterprise Resource Planning system Core-CT.

Link to a Fake Website. To trick you into disclosing your user name and password, cyber criminals often include a link to a fake web site that looks like (sometimes exactly like) the sign-in page of a legitimate web site. Just because a site includes a company’s logo or looks like the real page doesn’t mean it is! Logos and web site layouts are easy to copy. You can detect a fraud by using your mouse to “hover” over the link with your cursor.  This will reveal the website to which you are being directed (and it may not be the one you expected). The best practice is to refrain from CLICKING ANY LINKS IN EMAIL.  Navigate to the site by your normal means.

Legitimate Links Mixed with Fake Links. Cyber criminals sometimes include authentic links in their spoof pages, such as to the genuine privacy policy and terms of service pages for the site they’re mimicking. These authentic links are mixed in with links to a fake phishing web site in order to make the spoof site appear more realistic.

Other Characteristics of Phishing Emails:

  • Spelling errors, poor grammar, or inferior graphics.
  • Requests for personal information such as your password, Social Security number, or bank account or credit card number. Legitimate companies will never ask you to verify or provide confidential information through an unsolicited email.
  • Attachments (which might contain viruses or keystroke loggers, which record what you type).

What to Do if You Are a Victim of a Phishing Email.

If you have clicked on a suspicious email link and feel your personal identifiable information may have been compromised, here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself.

  • Change your passwords for all employer software systems, and all personal bank, retirement and financial accounts.
  • If you have not already done so, register your financial and banking accounts for online access only and choose challenging security questions with answers that only you would know.
  • Regularly review your bank, credit card, retirement and financial account(s) for any unauthorized activity.
  • Regularly review your credit report for any unauthorized activity. Under federal law, you are entitled to one free copy every 12 months.  You may obtain a copy by calling 877-322-8228 or online at annualcreditreport.com;
  • Learn more; by visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s website at ftc.gov/credit.

 The Department of Administrative Services will be introducing a new Cyber Security Awareness training program soon.  It will include further information on how to use email safely.  If you are suspicious about any email that you receive, contact the IT Help Center at x4400 or via email: helpdesk@uchc.edu


Standing Up for UConn

UConn Health faculty and staff attend a public hearing over state funding for UConn. (Photo provided by Andrea Keilty)

UConn Health faculty and staff attend a public hearing over state funding for UConn. (Photo provided by Andrea Keilty)

Last night in a show of solidarity against millions of dollars in proposed state budget cuts facing UConn and UConn Health, nearly 100 students, doctors, faculty and staff attended the Appropriations Committee hearings at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

UConn had several diverse panels of speakers sharing their personal perspectives with legislators about the detrimental impact any potential budget cuts could have on their education, research or care of patients.

UConn is currently facing up to $28 million in budget cuts while UConn Health is facing $13.2 million.

UConn Health’s five-person panel discussion was kicked-off by Evan Woodford, a second-year student in the UConn School of Dental Medicine. He told the committee, “I worry what message will be sent to future students if that vital support needed to continue to provide their educations…is withdrawn. I urge you to minimize the amount of the proposed budget cuts in order to maintain our excellent progress.”

Bayan Abunar, a second-year student in the UConn School of Medicine, testified, “It is through the state funds to UConn Health and your regular investments to our School of Medicine and Dental Medicine that have made it an affordable and accessible place for students of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds, including myself, to learn to be compassionate health care providers. I urge you to continue to invest in these entities by restoring funding to the FY16-17 level which provide tremendous benefit for the students, patients and Connecticut’s economy.”

Michel Gueret of Canton, a stage IV lung cancer survivor, also spoke about the cutting-edge and lifesaving immunotherapy clinical trial he had access to at UConn Health’s Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“My survival, literally against all odds, is the real testimony,” Gueret said. “It is evidence of what a research-driven UConn Health can and will continue to deliver to the people of Connecticut with your continued unwavering support. I thank each member of the committee for standing up to safeguard UConn Health. With your support–one day in the future–they will be there to save your life or that of your loved one in need, just like they saved my life.”

Mark Driscoll, a biotech entrepreneur who started the company Shoreline Biome at UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP) in 2015, told the lamwakers, “UConn and UConn Health are vital components of the foundation of a robust ecosystem that is needed for the high tech life science businesses and industries of today to be successful. I urge you to consider that continued strong investment in UConn and UConn Health as part of our economic growth plan should remain a high priority as we look for long term solutions to our budget problems in Connecticut.”

UConn Health researcher Caroline Dealy spoke about the various ways she serves the state as a UConn alumnus, UConn Health scientist, entrepreneur, business owner and educator of students.

“UConn needs resources for research so that scientists like me and others who are speaking tonight can continue to bring new knowledge into the world, while engaging in the process of discovery, the next generation of change-makers: UConn’s students,” Dealy said. “I urge you, please don’t cut UConn’s resources. It’s just too important.”

Earlier in the day UConn leadership, including President Susan Herbst and Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, UConn Health CEO and executive vice president for health affairs, also shared in-person testimony with the Committee.

“I ask for your support to protect the viability of your public academic health system and to do what you can to minimize cuts to UConn Health so that we can continue to deliver on the investments and provide Connecticut and its people with excellent service,” shared Agwunobi.

Agwunobi Eying Strategic Cuts, Continued Growth, Affiliations

Dr. Andrew Agwunobi speaks at a town hall meeting for faculty and staff Feb. 8, 2017. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

Dr. Andrew Agwunobi speaks at a town hall meeting for faculty and staff Feb. 8, 2017. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

In the face of continued financial challenges, UConn Health still has great potential, Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, chief executive officer and executive vice president for health affairs, told employees at a town hall meeting this week.

“We have amazing, amazing opportunity here at UConn Health,” Agwunobi said. “We are investing for long-term growth, but have serious short- to mid-term financial headwinds.”

Agwunobi said UConn Health has to significantly cut costs while protecting its teaching, research, and clinical care missions, adding that details on how to do that are still being worked on and are forthcoming in the months ahead.

“One thing I can reassure you is that whatever we do in this organization, we will be very, very thoughtful about how it is done, and our mission,” he said. “We’ll be very thoughtful about that and make sure that it does not impact our mission, and does not impact people unnecessarily, wherever we can avoid that.”

He said understanding the context of those decisions is important, explaining that the budget target for fiscal 2018 is a nearly $16 million loss, and that the institution may have to overcome up to an additional $10 million in state funding cuts. At the same time, UConn Health must continue to invest in itself, he said.

“We have to continue the commitment to growth, there’s no way of shrinking ourselves to success,” Agwunobi said. “We have to grow, and we will continue to do that. We have to strengthen our surgical services—we really have to focus on that—our ORs, our outreach to physicians in the community, getting referrals into our systems, hiring faculty members in surgery, that’s very important.”

He noted that 73 faculty members have joined UConn Health since 2015, many of them clinicians.

“That’s our economic engine,” Agwunobi said. “We bring them in, they start up their practices, we give them equipment, we give them staff, and they see patients. Patients come to us and that’s how we increase out top line, our revenues.”

A video recording of the town hall meeting is available on Mediasite.

“On the one side we hire, we protect our mission, teaching and academic and clinical, and on the other side, we cut costs,” Agwunobi says. “And at the same time we look at affiliations and other structures, other partnerships that we can help to spread our costs, that we can help to increase the size of our network, that we can get more revenues into our system.”

Another priority is a focus on leadership and culture. Agwunobi cited results from last year’s employee engagement survey indicating areas in need of improvement. He said it starts with the leadership.

“We’ve started leadership development sessions, which I and others hold, and we actually have done three already,” he said. “What we’re focusing on is servant leadership. We’re here to serve the needs of the faculty, the patients, the employees, to have a culture of yes rather than a culture of no, to have a culture of supporting the people we are here to serve, being honest and proactive about communication, being good at what we do, being competent and continually learning as leaders, supporting our employees, and also being innovative.”

Agwunobi announced plans for a “360-degree survey,” where leaders will be evaluated anonymously by the people who report to them, as well as their peers.

Vice President of Human Resources John Peeples speaks at a town hall meeting for faculty and staff Feb. 8, 2017. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

Vice President of Human Resources John Peeples speaks at a town hall meeting for faculty and staff Feb. 8, 2017. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

Attendees of Wednesday’s meeting also got a public introduction to John Peeples, who joined UConn Health as vice president for human resources late last year. Peeples announced he will start holding small group meetings with front-line staff in work areas throughout the campus in March, April and May.

“I’ll go out and make sure that the employees have an opportunity to meet me, share with me things that are important to them, such as, how do we make this a great place to work,” Peeples said. “In addition to that, what are some of the programs and services that are important to the employees that we should consider as we look at HR and how HR is delivered to the workforce. More importantly, I just want to hear what people want to say—What do you want to share with me?”

An HR perspective survey will follow Peeples’ listening tour.

Peeples also said HR is undergoing a transformation toward having a greater focus on recruitment, retention, and training and development.

“Not only do we have to worry about the labor contracts and policies and corrective actions and those things, but we also have to be concerned about how we advocate for both managers and employees,” he said. “We need to be concerned with all rights that employees have, not just rights under a labor contract, but rights that you have to just have a great place to work.”

Also giving brief remarks were Dr. Bruce Liang, dean of the UConn School of Medicine, and Roberta Luby, associate vice president, UConn HealthONE.

Liang said the new medical school curriculum is going well, and the school getting ready for next year’s accreditation survey. He said the new simulation center is open to—and being used by—medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy students, and coming soon is a new suite for advanced training in laparoscopic surgery.

Luby, who is overseeing the elaborate transition to UConn Health’s new electronic medical records system, said the project is progressing well and is on track for an April 28, 2018, go-live date.



January PAWS Award Winners

Dr. Andy Agwunobi UMG General Medicine MA Team Shevonne White, Operating Room Catherine Kay, UMG-Rheumatology Patricia Joyce, UMG-Internal Medicine Laura Didden, Dental Dean’s Office Rashea Banks, Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health)

Human Resources is pleased to announce January 2017 PAWS award recipients. The award honors employees who consistently perform above and beyond the expectations of their job and exhibit the following attributes: Part of a team; Awesome attitude; Wonderful work ethic; and Superior service.

Individual Winners: Rashea Banks, Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center; Doreen Barnofski, Dermatology Clinic; Laura Didden, Dental Dean’s Office; Marsha Dowling, UMG-Rheumatology; Cherayne Forknot-Gayle, Medical/Surgical 5 Unit; Patricia Joyce, UMG-Internal Medicine; Catherine Kay, UMG-Rheumatology; Ashley Schwartz, UMG-Rheumatology; and Shevonne White, Operating Room.

UMG General Medicine MA Team: Danielle Beaudoin, Wendy Carros, Stephanie Laster, Jenny Ojeda Rosado, Karolina Simko and Lucy Sokolsky.

Lifeless Infant Revived by UConn Health Clinical Lab Staff

Latonya Robbs-Joseph and Juan Carlos Restrepo are credited with saving the life of an infant who had stopped breathing in the clinical lab Jan. 17. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

Latonya Robbs-Joseph and Juan Carlos Restrepo are credited with saving the life of an infant who had stopped breathing in the clinical lab Jan. 17. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

Quick action by UConn Health staff prevented a tragedy in the clinical lab last week.

A horrified woman burst out of a consultation room holding her one-month-old daughter, who had stopped breathing.

The closest person was clinical coordinator Latonya Robbs-Joseph, who took the infant and started CPR. Someone else called 7777, the internal emergency number.

“She was red, turning purple,” she says. “There was no response. She was limp.”

Laboratory assistant Juan Carlos Restrepo then gave it a try.

“The baby felt like a doll, with no movement, and she was changing color,” Restrepo says. “After I would say 20 to 30 seconds, the baby’s stomach releases as I compress, and then I start hearing the baby cooing. I pick up the baby, she’s looking at me, I’m looking at her, and her chest starts to move. As I look at the mother, the mother was shaking and crying, then I saw the biggest smile. And the baby then rested her head right on my chest after that. And that, well, that was a moment.”

Restrepo says after he handed the baby back to the grateful mother, he was overcome with emotion and had to step out into the hallway.

“It was a very moving experience,” Robbs-Joseph says. “I think it was that parental instinct. We’re both parents. People were like, ‘What did you think?’ I didn’t. Instinct just kicked in, and I was like, ‘God, please save this baby.’”

Both Robbs-Joseph and Restrepo are certified in infant CPR.

“All we want to do is serve, and that was one of those given moments where we put that to practice, 110 percent,” Restrepo says. “This is one of those moments that everybody just chipped in, everybody just did their part, and the willingness of everyone is what stood out. We saved a life, as a team.”

Robbs-Joseph says she hopes this story inspires others to be trained in infant CPR.

“It doesn’t hit you, but then when you think about it and you still can see that little baby in your hands, it’s like, ‘Thank God that I was there, thank God that I was trained, thank God we didn’t hesitate, and just kicked into mode,” she says.

Looking at Us: Alexis Crean, Human Resources

Alexis Crean brings a positive attitude to her role as HR organization and staff development specialist. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

Alexis Crean brings versatility and a positive attitude to her role as HR organization and staff development specialist. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

If you’ve attended an employee recognition event, employee orientation, or a professional development course, chances are you’ve met Alexis Crean, organization and staff development specialist in the UConn Health Department of Human Resources. And, chances are her role runs counter to your preconceived notions about HR. Alexis has been with UConn Health for 23 years, the last 19 in HR. She lives in East Hampton with her husband and two teen daughters.

Q: What are some of your responsibilities in UConn Health HR that perhaps historically are not associated with human resources in general?

I know that this might sound cliché but I really do believe that Human Resources is about what we can do to help the organization, and its people, become more successful. I have been the lucky recipient of working for some great individuals who have helped me shape my career and that is why I choose to give back every chance I get. I have found in my 23 years with the organization that one of the best ways to do that is to build strong relationships. It’s about having a one-on-one conversation with the new manager who isn’t getting the most out of her team, and then helping her to get more out of that team. It’s about helping employees understand their role in the future and why “our” organization values them. Yes, we all have to make sure that we are abiding by the rules and regulations but as an HR professional I always keep the person I am serving front and center, giving him or her the best I can offer.

Favorite movie:
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

Favorite musician:

Favorite place to visit:
I love going to NYC any chance I get

Famous person you’d most like to meet:
Coco Channel

Favorite delicacy:
Colombian Empanadas

Q: How do you make your unique role in HR your own?

My mom always told me, “Bien predica quien bien vive”—“Lead by example.” That’s why I always keep a look out for ways that we can show employees that Human Resources really does care and that it’s not just talk. So if I can make an employees’ experience that much the better by offering a meaningful recognition event, or providing compassion during a difficult time, I am your person. People often say, “I wish I had your job because it looks like so much fun,” and I respond, “Thanks so much for saying so, and know that it is done with much thoughtfulness and attention to detail,” because I enjoy giving back to a community that I respect so much.

Q: What is something about UConn Health HR that you think is generally misunderstood?

To employees, HR could be the person they see only when something goes wrong. Yes, we‘re there when someone gets fired, during exit interviews or disputes, so it’s easy to see why Human Resources is commonly misunderstood. In my experience, being an HR professional is a constant balancing act of being an employee advocate, maintaining compliance, and acting in the best interest of the organization, ensuring that employees get recognized and offering resources to assist in developing their work and life balance.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about your role?

I am especially proud of the gift I have of visual storytelling. From the age of 5 years old I have been telling stories through pictures. I never thought that my passion would transcend into my daily work. It is so rewarding for me to take people’s messages and create a presentation or a visual that inspires understanding, action and change.

Q: Anyone who’s worked with you knows you always bring such positive energy. How do you maintain that so consistently?

Thank you, that is very kind of you to say! I subscribe to the Positive Attitudinal Effect. Meaning, the greatest thing about attitude is that it is the one thing we all have the ability to control. It’s a choice. You could say that my positive attitude is my secret sauce. A positive attitude has a positive impact on my productivity, work quality, service, innovation, and the emotional bond I feel with my colleagues, customers and family. It’s what I am trying to teach my daughters to practice, every day.

Q: What’s something you like to do outside of work?

We love our community and proudly give back to it through our family charity, the Turkey Plunge, which has raised $166,000 over the last seven years for our local food bank. There is something very satisfying about bringing together people, have some fun and making a difference in people’s lives!

UConn Health Faculty on Best Doctors List

Hartford Magazine’s Best Doctors® list includes 58 UConn Health faculty members practicing in such areas as dermatology, geriatrics, surgery, orthopaedics, and obstetrics and gynecology. The list was drawn from the database of Best Doctors in America, an independent service that offers second opinions online.

Best Doctors physicians are selected by other doctors as part of a comprehensive review process. These are the doctors that other doctors recognize as best in their fields.

UConn faculty cited:

Marc Paradis, Anesthesiology
Amir Tulchinsky, Anesthesiologybest-docs-2017-cover
Jason Ryan, Cardiovascular Disease
Peter Schulman, Cardiovascular Disease
Aseem Vashist, Cardiovascular Disease
Jane Grant-Kels, Dermatology and Pathology
Hanspaul Makkar, Dermatology and Pediatric Dermatology
Marti Rothe, Dermatology
Bruce Strober, Dermatology
James Whalen, Dermatology
Jeffrey Spiro, Ear, Nose, and Throat
Andrew Arnold, Endocrinology
Carl Malchoff, Endocrinology
Pamela Taxel, Endocrinology
Robert Cushman, Family Medicine
Patrick Coll, Geriatrics
Anne Kenny, Geriatrics
Margaret Rathier, Geriatrics
Gail Sullivan, Geriatrics and Internal Medicine
Craig Rodner, Hand Surgery
Rebecca Andrews, Internal Medicine
Elizabeth Appel, Internal Medicine
Lynn Kosowicz,
Internal Medicine
Thomas Manger, Internal Medicine
Jacqueline Nissen, Internal Medicine
Andre Kaplan, Nephrology
Claudio Adrian Benadiva, Obstetrics/Gynecology
Molly Brewer, Obstetrics/Gynecology
Winston Campbell, Obstetrics/Gynecology
Victor Fang, Obstetrics/Gynecology
Anthony Luciano, Obstetrics/Gynecology
John Nulsen, Obstetrics/Gynecology
Dave Park, Obstetrics/Gynecology
Garry Turner, Obstetrics/Gynecology
William Ehlers, Ophthalmology
Robert Arciero, Orthopaedic Surgery
Augustus Mazzocca, Orthopaedic Surgery
Kevin Shea, Orthopaedic Surgery
Seth Brown, Otolaryngology
Denis Lafreniere, Otolaryngology
Jeffrey Spiro, Otolaryngology
Naveed Hussain, Pediatric Specialist/Neonatal-Perinatal
David Steffens, Psychiatry
Andrew Winokur, Psychiatry
Nausherwan Burki, Pulmonology
Robert Dowsett, Radiation Oncology
David McFadden, Surgery and Surgical Oncology
Peter Albertsen, Urology
Carl Gjertson, Urology
James Menzoian, Vascular Surgery

Pediatrics Faculty at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center
Mary Wu Chang, Dermatology
Karen Rubin,
Henry Feder, Infectious Diseases
Juan Salazar, Infectious Diseases
Edwin Leonard Zalneraitis, Neurology, General
Lawrence Zemel, Rheumatology
Brendan Campbell, Surgery and Thoracic Surgery
Richard Weiss, Surgery

Update: UConn HealthONE

The road to our electronic medical record system, HealthONE, continues full speed ahead. Roberta Luby, assistant vice president for HealthONE, says they’re more than halfway through the “building” phase of the project. They’ve started holding adoption sessions in which managers and key users review the dashboards that will help them manage patient care, quality measures, and financial results. Watch the video to learn how your feedback has played a critical role in the project’s success so far.

Bye-bye, Building 20

Building 20, constructed in 1990 for extra office space at UConn Health, in the process of being demolished. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

Building 20, constructed in 1990 for extra office space at UConn Health, in the process of being demolished. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

There are probably not too many of us mourning the demise of Building 20 – the small wood frame structure that was connected to the back of the main building where the police department is located. While it was drafty and dreary and had no running water (which meant no bathrooms!), it did serve a vital need for office space when it was first constructed in 1990.

Occupancy varied over the ensuing years, but typically served as academic and research-related support space. According to Thomas Trutter, AVP of campus planning, design and construction, “By removing this older, less than desirable structure, we are reducing long-term maintenance costs and the newly renovated space in the main building provides much more energy efficient and better configured office space.”

A pile of rubble is all that is left of Building 20 which housed research and academic office space for more than 25 years. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

A pile of rubble is all that is left of Building 20 which housed research and academic office space for more than 25 years. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)