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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!

Large Turnout for Making Strides Event

  • Survivors tent sponsored by UConn Health.
UConn spirit and pride was evident with the largest team turn out ever for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Hartford event on Sunday, Oct. 16 at Bushnell Park. Team UConn Health Husky Heroes proudly joined 5,500 walkers to help raise over $280,000 to support the American Cancer Society in the fight against breast cancer. The team was comprised of patients, caregivers, friends, staff and families. It was a beautiful autumn day and UConn Health once again had the honor of sponsoring the Survivor Tent which offered survivors delicious food, tips and advice, special goody bags, and a space to interact with other survivors.  One of the speakers at the event was a Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center patient whose story for the opening ceremony was impactful and moving. She was able to share the experience with her family and caregivers, providing inspiration and hope to all participants. Thank you to all who raised funds, volunteered their time in so many different ways, and continue to support important events like Making Strides.


ACO with Hartford Healthcare – What Does It Mean for Us?

What it is

A voluntary collaboration, related to clinical care only and is separate from existing partnerships or affiliations.

What it is not

Not a merger, joint venture, or anything that involves the transfer of assets. As an ACO partner, Hartford Healthcare has no governance or other control over UConn Health.

For the past 9 months UConn Health has been pursuing the selection of an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) affiliation partner from among the surrounding health systems and physician groups in Connecticut.  An ACO is a group of doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers who voluntarily collaborate to coordinate care and ensure that patients receive the best care at the lowest possible cost. UConn Health’s process for seeking an ACO partner began with an October 2015 letter to 13 regional providers seeking interest in UConn Health joining one or more their ACOs “at a leadership level.” UConn Health followed these letters with meetings and phone calls with the CEOs and/or ACO representatives of these institutions. This process has concluded and UConn Health has selected Hartford Healthcare (HHC) to be its ACO partner.  The reasons for choosing HHC include that HHC leadership was extremely engaged and motivated to find a customized non-binding model for UConn Health that allowed for equal leadership. It was also viewed favorably that HHC has local leadership and a strong regional reputation as a quality healthcare provider.

Key characteristics associated with this ACO partnership are:

  1. The ACO partnership is voluntary non-binding collaboration that does not include any merger of assets, nor is this a form of  joint venture as that term is often used.
  1. It is essentially an agreement where the leadership of both entities will jointly identify and implement initiatives to improve the quality and costs of shared populations of patients.
  1. Once the ACO partnership identifies joint initiatives, the appropriate structures will be created
  1. UConn Health and HHC has equal leadership in the collaboration.
  1. To ensure maximum flexibility, UConn Health is not joining HHC ‘s existing ACO (“ICP”) rather this is a separate collaboration that will benefit from ICP’s experience without becoming a member of ICP.
  1. The ACO partnership does not affect existing clinical or other relationships with other regional health systems or providers.
  1. This ACO partnership pertains to clinical care, not education or research.
  1. This initial ACO partnership does not include any payment or receipt of funds.

What Happens Next?

UConn Health leadership and HHC leadership will work together over the next few months to identify specific initiatives that will increase the quality and decrease the costs of care for shared patients. We look forward to sharing these initiatives as they are contemplated and developed.

Welcome to The Pulse

Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Pulse – a weekly newsletter aimed at monitoring the pulse of UConn Health and highlighting what really makes us tick. It’ll be delivered to your inbox every Friday. No, you can’t unsubscribe – and you won’t want to – because this newsletter will focus on news you need to know, events you won’t want to miss, and unique stories that make UConn Health special.

Plus, Dr. Andy will answer your most thought-provoking questions and we’ll get you caught up on UConn Health in the news – stories from newspapers, radio, or TV that you may have missed during your busy week.

This isn’t meant to replace broadcast messages – we want to add to the conversation, not take information away. There’s a lot going on here and we want to cut through the clutter and talk about what’s important.

That’s why our first feature focuses on the biggest project our campus has ever seen – University Tower. Construction began three years ago and now we’re just over two months away from opening day. The Pulse will keep you up-to-date on the nitty-gritty of moving day, as well as opening events in which you and your family can partake.

While we’re not asking for submissions as we do with broadcast messages, we do welcome your feedback and story ideas. You can contact us at thepulse@uchc.edu.

UConn Health’s Hennig to Compete in World Fencing Championships

Bonnie Hennig is packing her bags for Paris, not to represent UConn Health at a conference, but to represent the United States at the 2015 Veterans Fencing World Championships.

Bonnie Hennig is gearing up for the Veterans Fencing World Championships in France.

Bonnie Hennig is gearing up for the Veterans Fencing World Championships in France. (Photo by Bob Trestman)

Hennig, the associate director of UConn Health’s Huntington’s Disease Program, shares the No. 2 ranking in the U.S. in her category, which is women age 50 to 59 who compete with a sword called a foil.

“To me it’s the ultimate sport,” Hennig says. “Fencing is considered ‘physical chess.’ It’s aerobic with an anaerobic piece to it. It’s one of those sports that has team comradery but is also very individual.”

Hennig first dabbled in fencing in college but hadn’t picked up a foil for two decades when a local club opened 10 years ago and she got back into it. Recreational fencing became competitive fencing, locally, then regionally, then in national tournaments.

“This is the first time I’ve met the age requirement for an international veteran tournament. For international competition, you’re not considered a ‘veteran’ until age 50,” Hennig says. “For a veteran fencer, the World Veteran Fencing Championship is the highest level you can reach.”

The world championship events take place in Limoges, France, Oct. 20-25.

Bonnie Hennig in her national team uniform (Photo by Madison Hennig)

Bonnie Hennig in her national team uniform (Photo by Madison Hennig)

“While I would love to be a world champion, my first goal is to enjoy the journey,” Hennig says. “It’s not just about a medal around my neck. If I can go to France and fence my best, then I’ve met my goal. I want to fence ‘in the zone’—I’ve been there before and it’s an awesome place. My first plan is to arrive at the venue, do a 360 degree turn, take it all in, and say, ‘I am here!’”

Hennig trains at the Connecticut Fencers Club in Middletown twice a week. She also competes on weekends.

“What’s great about this sport is that anyone can fence,” Hennig says. “There is a lot of technique to it, but people can do it recreationally or competitively. You can go anywhere in the world to fence. It really brings people together.”

In her case, it helped bring husband and wife together. Hennig and Dr. Robert Trestman, executive director of Correctional Managed Health Care and interim director of the Center for Public Health and Health Policy at UConn Health, have fencing in common. While they initially met at UConn years ago, it was fencing that brought them together. They were reintroduced through fencing in 2010 and married in 2012.