Author: Chris DeFrancesco

South Road Roundabout Paving Delays Nov. 10

Please note the following advisory from the Farmington Police Department:

On Friday, Nov. 10, daytime paving will be conducted at the South Road and Two Mile Road roundabout. Paving is scheduled to occur between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Significant delays are expected, and motorists are strongly encouraged to avoid the area. To facilitate the paving, the following detours and road closures will be put in place:

Map showing detour around paving work at the Colt Highway/ South Road / Two Mile Road traffic circle
(Farmington Police Department; click map for larger view)
  • South Road at Munson Road will be closed to southbound traffic during the duration of work.
  • The Two Mile Road roundabout entrance will initially be closed. Traffic will be detoured to Batterson Park Road to Robin Road and then onto South Road.
  • As paving progresses, the Two Mile Road detour will be reversed. South Road will detour to Robin Road to Batterson Park Road and then to Two Mile Road.
  • Colt Highway (Rt. 6) will remain open throughout the work.
  • Traffic will be alternating through the roundabout.
  • Detour signs will be in place along with officers to direct traffic.

The extended work hours will allow the paving to be completed in one day, minimizing the overall inconvenience to motorists. We thank the public for their understanding and patience with this project.

Halloween ’23 at UConn Health

Do you recognize any costumed colleagues?

  • costumed staff portrait
    Clinical Simulation Center (Photo provided by Jim Behme)


Dr. Deckers Award Culminates UConn Health Workforce Gratitude

The 2022 Seasons of Gratitude at UConn Health culminated with the 13th Dr. Peter J. Deckers Employee Appreciation award presented to Genice Nelson, nursing director for behavioral health at UConn Health’s New England Sickle Cell Institute and Connecticut Bleeding Disorders Center.

Nelson was chosen among five finalists, highlighted in this year’s nominee video:

This year’s celebration was exceptionally bright as the UConn Health workforce community gathered in-person once again to celebrate colleagues with five, 10, 15, and 20 years of service in 2022. In addition, this year’s Fall/Winter PAWS and TEAM recipients were honored for consistently performing above and beyond their job expectations and furthering UConn Health’s mission through teamwork and excellence.

In total, over 690 individuals were honored Tuesday in the rotunda. As Dr. Bruce T. Liang, UConn Health CEO and executive vice president for health affairs, noted in his remarks, this celebration was a wonderful UConn Health addition to this year’s holiday season.

In Awe of Respiratory Therapists

“I now understand they are an absolute integral part of the health care team, and a truly amazing resource.”

Respiratory therapists group portrait
UConn Health respiratory therapists include (from left): Vanessa Woodruff, Samantha Marino, Zenaida Palma, Randy Luke, Stephanie Gutierrez, Stacy Pacheco, Sara Drouin and Tarjeet Bharara. (Photo provided by Sandy Thibodeau)

As UConn Health observes Respiratory Care Week, Oct. 23-29, here is a testimonial from a medical student that was part of a recent written assignment. Students were asked to reflect on their observations of the respiratory therapists’ experience, including the RTs’ interactions with the health care team and the patients’ experiences.

My main takeaway is respiratory therapists are really amazing health professions that I have never really considered until now.

I had always heard about “RTs” during the COVID pandemic especially, but I never thought about what that might entail. I thought that respiratory management was always managed between the pulmonologist and nurses, such that orders for oxygen and/or breathing apparatuses by the pulmonologist were implemented by the nursing team, and more advanced ventilation such as intubation and tracheostomies were performed by the pulmonologists.

Respiratory therapists small group portrait
UConn Health respiratory therapists include (from left): Eunice Albertinie, Vanessa Woodruff, and Damaris Rivera. (Photo provided by Sandy Thibodeau)

I was blown away by how much our RT does… She shared a story of when a patient came in and with her 15-plus years of experience, immediately knew that this patient needed a BIPAP. However, the resident said it was not needed yet. Rather than argue, the RT simply went to grab and set the BIPAP up, but did not place it. Finally, when the resident said BIPAP was necessary, it was all ready to go. The RT shared that had she waited for the resident’s orders for the BIPAP, there would have been a delay in care because of the time it takes to get the BIPAP from the floor and set it up. I thought this was such an incredible story to hear, because it showed me that even though doctors technically go to school for a longer period of time, we need to respect these professionals that have extensive experience in the field and have trained specifically to help patients breathe. Our RT was sharing about all of the intricacies of O2 and CO2 balance, with extensive knowledge about microbes such as pseudomonas that cause respiratory infections.

In our curriculum, we have pretty much covered all of the material surrounding respiratory infections and V/Q mismatch and gradients and things like that, and I still feel like I barely know these things – and a lot of my classmates struggle with this material as well. I just think it’s absolutely amazing how RTs know pulmonary inside and out. Like I genuinely don’t understand what pulmonologists do that RTs don’t. I know it was very condescending of me to not know how knowledgeable RTs were before, but I am fortunate to have had the experience to learn.

Respiratory therapists group portrait
UConn Health respiratory therapists include (from left): Samantha Marino, Vanessa Woodruff, Marzena Mocarski, Sara Drouin, Tarjeet Bharara, Zenaida Palma, Stephanie Guitierrez, Stacy Pacheco, and Sandy Thibodeau. (Photo provided by Sandy Thibodeau)

Another take away was that RTs are super passionate, caring, hard-working health professionals. People who require respiratory therapy are extremely sick, and it requires extreme care and empathy to be able to take care of patients in such acute condition. Our RT was telling us about how much they worked during the pandemic and would not leave the floor for insane periods of time. She told us about how they all stayed over time every single day. She even talked about how she needed to buy nice sneakers because of how much they run around. And above all, despite working so much, she still was so passionate about what she does, even saying she will stay late and set extra things up because she loves seeing the relief of patients when they are finally able to breathe.

Overall, I never really thought about RTs, but I now understand they are an absolute integral part of the health care team, and a truly amazing resource. The way in which you breathe really guides how anxious/distressed you might feel, and as RTs are solely focused on making sure patients can breathe comfortably, they are truly at the center of patient care.

Recognizing Rehabilitation Services

Did you know UConn Health has nearly four dozen professionals in various rehabilitation services fields?
They include:
  • the 10 physical therapists, two occupational therapists, three speech pathologists, and two rehab aides who serve our hospital patients, and
  • our outpatient rehabilitation staff, which includes 22 physical therapists, four occupational therapists, one speech/language pathologist, and one medical assistant (some of whom, from the Nayden Clinic in Storrs,pictured here).
group photo inpatient rehabOutpatient rehabiltiation services staff portraitOutpatient rehabilitation services group portraitOutpatient rehabiltiation services staff portrait

“I’d like to recognize all of our rehabilitation staff – they are a great group of people who deliver exceptional care in multiple locations and specialties, both inpatient and outpatient, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech pathology,” says University Medical Group Chief Operating Officer Anne Horbatuck. “Thank you for all that you do and thanks for being a part of our UConn Health Team!”

National Rehabilitation Awareness Week 2022 is Sept. 19-25.

Looking at Us: Lucius Downey, IT Tech and Children’s Book Author

Lucius Downey in bookstore
Lucius Downey, a UConn IT desktop support manager, created a children’s book character based on his son, Tyler. His first book, Tyler Travels New York City, is available at the UConn Health bookstore and on his website,, along with t-shirts, hats, and the Tyler doll on his left. (Photo by Chris DeFrancesco)

Lucius Downey is in his 10th year working for UConn Health’s Department of Information Technology, where he recently accepted a promotion to the position of desktop support manager. He had been a technical analyst for the last six years, and was a contract employee before that. He is also a children’s book author. His first published book, Tyler Travels New York City, is available at retailers, including the UConn Health Bookstore, and via and Amazon.

Downey lives in New Britain with his son, Tyler, who turns 12 Sept. 29.

Lucius Downey

Luicius Downey environmental portraitFavorite movie:
“Coming to America”

Favorite actor:
Denzel Washington

Person you’d most like to meet: Tyler Perry

Favorite place to visit:
I would like to visit Hawaii or Alaska.

Something about you today your younger self would never believe:
That I would live outside of New York City

What was it like working in IT during the height of the pandemic?

During the height of the pandemic, it was very busy. The first few weeks were very challenging, but we were able to work through those challenges and resolve many issues. One of the challenges was preparing equipment for our users to work from home.

What would you say is the most misunderstood thing about the work you do?

I think technicians can make the work look easy, so some will assume it is, but we face challenges as well.

What is the most rewarding thing about your work at UConn Health?

My job is to provide desktop and hardware support to our staff. The most rewarding thing is being able to resolve technical issues for our users. I really love helping people.

You’re also a children’s book author. How did that come to be, and when did you start?

I started writing music and poetry at a very young age, but never a book. During the pandemic, I wanted to try something new and challenge myself, so I started writing children’s books. I wanted the books to be of significance to me, so I decided to write the book with my son, Tyler, as the main character.

I took a picture of him when he was three years old, and I handed it off to a friend of mine who’s an illustrator. His name is LaMont Russ. From that picture, we created the character, and from there we created the story. We also have a small cartoon on YouTube. Tyler’s 11 years old now. He’s into sports, he loves pizza, he loves riding bikes, and he loves reading as well. So that was the inspiration behind this entire project. We would like to have not only books for students, but also an app. At some point, we will finish up the app and then we’ll move on to other subjects for school, but right now we’re focusing on reading.

Cover of book "Tyler Travels New York City"

How many have you written/published? What can you tell us about your body of work as an author?

Currently, I have about seven books finished and waiting to be published. Tyler Travels New York City is the first book I’ve published that is part of the TYLERCLUB29 traveling series. Tyler will travel to a different location in every book. He just so happens to go to New York City in the first book because that’s where I was born and raised. In addition to the travel series, I also have other books I’ve written which I plan to publish as well. The next book to be released is Tyler It’s Time. In that particular book, it’s time for something — time for practice, time for school — and that particular series will rhyme.

Learn more about Downey’s creative work at

Cybersecurity Corner: Spoof Phone Calls

Dennis Leber portrait
Dennis Leber is UConn Health’s chief information security officer. (Photo provided by Dennis Leber)

Recently UConn Health received notification that a patient’s family was targeted with a scam in the form of spoofed phone calls. The attacker used technology so the caller ID displayed a number originating from UConn Health. Once someone answers, a scripted scam developed through social engineering, attempts to trick the victim into giving over money. Preventing spoofed calls is next to impossible, but we can be prepared for them:

  • Stay aware and trust your gut. If the call seems suspicious, hang up.
  • You may be unable to tell immediately if an incoming call is spoofed. Be extremely careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information or request for money.
  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Let the call go to voice mail.
  • If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes” or “No.” Scammers record your response and use it to prove you authorized payment or other actions.
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords, or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are suspicious.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone claiming to represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before getting a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller asks for payment.
  • Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately or money.
  • If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
  • Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools and check into apps you can download to your mobile device. The FCC allows phone companies to block robocalls based on sound analytics. More information about robocall blocking is available at
  • Review your social media content and remove personal information criminals may use to build a profile on you and data which facilitates victimizing you. e.g. some of these spoofed calls claim to be a family member in the Hospital asking for money.
  • If you provide any personal information before you realize the call is a scam, lock your credit report, bank cards, or other accounts which may become compromised.
Dennis Leber, Chief Information Security Officer

Quick Questionnaire for Wellness Center Members

men on treadmills

In a typical week, how often do you work out at the Wellness Center?
Hou much would you say your exercise habits have changed over the last year?
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