Chaplain’s Corner: Back to School, Chaplain Edition

The Rev. Daniel D. Warriner is UConn Health’s chaplain. (Photo by Tina Encarnacion)

During this season of back to school, let me remind you what a chaplain is and how to reach one!


Chaplaincy is also referred to as “spiritual care.” Chaplains care for all people, respecting their diverse cultures, identities, abilities, and religious beliefs. As unique members of the health care team, chaplains offer spiritual and emotional support, prayer, and pastoral counseling for patients and families. They are available to people of all faiths and those not connected to an organized religion.

Requesting Chaplaincy Services

A hospital chaplain is typically available in the hospital Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Hospital staff can call the chaplain directly or contact them through the operators. For help in an emergency or outside regular business hours, please talk to a staff member, and he or she will make the request through the operators for you.

Meet Your Chaplains

Fr. Paul Luniw
Fr. Paul Luniw (photo provided)

Fr. Paul Luniw is one of our per diem chaplains. He was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. He graduated Halifax School of Nursing and became a SRN (state registered nurse). He worked at the Royal Halifax Infirmary, Halifax General Hospital and Northowram Hospitals, England, in all fields in the hospital. In Rome he was ordained a priest at St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Catholic Seminary and received his Ph.D. in canon law. He is the parish priest at St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Terryville.

Rev. Dianne Sullivan
Rev. Dianne Sullivan (photo provided)

The Rev. Dianne Sullivan is one of our per diem chaplains. She is an ordained priest in the American Ecumenical Church. She was consecrated Bishop in 2016, a role that she continues to grow into. She worked as a hospice chaplain for five years where she has supervised other chaplains and run bereavement groups in the past. Dianne has been a Marriage and Family Therapist for many years. She is married with three children and two grandchildren, the youngest of whom is 16 months old!

Rev Carol Whyte-Pusey
Rev. Carol Whyte-Pusey (photo provided)

The Rev. Carol Whyte-Pusey is one of our per diem chaplains and an ordained minister. She was born in Jamacia, where she worked as a police officer. She was also a school safety officer in Hartford public schools. She also has an extensive health care background. Before becoming a chaplain, she worked as an emergency department technician, a CNA, an LPN, and a phlebotomist. She has human services bachelor’s degree from Springfield College and a master of divinity from Liberty University.

The Rev. Dr. Daniel Warriner is our full-time chaplain. Before going to seminary, he received a BS in physics and astronomy. After receiving his master of divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, he worked as a hospice chaplain for eight years. He recently finished his doctor of ministry degree and has been with UConn Health for over three years. He has been married for 16 years. He enjoys reading, building Legos, making fire pits in the yard, sending memes, and playing baseball with his 13-year-old son.

You can reach me at dwarriner@uchc.edu, 860-679-3230, or even through Voalte.

—Rev. Daniel D. Warriner, UConn Health Chaplain

Wear Pink Wednesdays for Stroke Awareness 2023

During 2023 Stroke Awareness Month, UConn Health’s Stroke Center encouraged colleagues to wear pink on Wednesdays to help raise awareness about stroke, its symptoms, and modifiable risk factors.

  • Group portraits, wearing pink shirts
    Employees from UConn Health's Quality Assurance and Infection Prevention departments take part in "Wear Pink Wednesdays" for stroke awareness, May 2023. (submitted photo)

Chaplain’s Corner: Religious Diversity and Inclusiveness

The Rev. Daniel D. Warriner is UConn Health’s chaplain. (Photo by Tina Encarnacion)

To build an inclusive culture is to build a culture that supports diversity of thought, of data, and of teams. It means valuing what others bring to the table. Have you ever wondered how religion and spirituality factor into this value at UConn Health?

A hospital chaplain offers spiritual care to patients and their families, as well as to staff. Chaplains in hospitals use the insights and principles of psychology, spirituality, religion, and theology. No one can represent every faith tradition, but chaplains become familiar with beliefs across various religions and cultures. Our chaplains have their own specific religious traditions but are available to support and encourage people of all religious faiths in various ways. We aim to support diversity, equity, and inclusion through offering support for success for people of all backgrounds.

There are many ways this is practiced at UConn Health. Last month many Protestant and Catholic Christians celebrated Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season. Ashes were available from some of our chaplains in the chapel, and upon request for anyone who celebrated this holiday in this way.

Another faith-specific practice is the Muslim prayer time. This occurs Fridays at noon in the chapel. This group meets weekly for prayer. Knowing that Ramadan is approaching, I am sure this sacred prayer time will be a valuable resource.

If a patient requests a visit from local clergy, our chaplains coordinate with local religious groups to arrange support. This includes calling local churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques for specific requests for support.

Inclusion also was considered when our Murray-Heilig Chapel was being designed. The Chapel was designed to be a welcoming, sacred, and safe space without any specific religious symbols. The chairs move to accommodate prayer rugs. There are kneelers for those who pray on their knees. There is a religious library in the back with various sacred texts. They are all donated and they are free to take. So take what you need!

You can reach me at dwarriner@uchc.edu, 860-679-3230, or even through Voalte.

—Rev. Daniel D. Warriner, UConn Health Chaplain

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.

Chaplain’s Corner: Grieving for Fallen Heroes

The Rev. Daniel D. Warriner is UConn Health’s chaplain. (Photo by Tina Encarnacion)

I wanted to take a moment to recognize the Bristol Police Department. Two officers, Sgt. Dustin DeMonte and Officer Alex Hamzy, died in the line of duty last week, and Officer Alec Iurato was seriously wounded. Bristol is just the next town over. This happened in our community. So this feels very close to home for me. How about for you?

Large U.S. flag hanging from ladder truck
With the bodies of two slain Bristol police officers at the state medical examiner’s office, members of the law enforcement community arrive on the UConn Health campus as a Farmington Fire Department ladder truck displays the American flag Oct. 14, 2022. (Photo by Suzanne Paranzino)

I have spoken with many people. I have watched news videos together on hospital units. I have heard the pain. I have heard stories of nightmares, fears, and anxiety about safety in the future. As I learn more about their deaths, I’m sickened by this senseless tragedy and the evil in the world.

However the specifics of this tragedy weighs on your heart, I would like to acknowledge the many levels the power of this loss to shake up our hospital community.

Perhaps you were here last Friday when the flag was held high across the main drive and the procession to the medical examiner’s office. Maybe you have patients who live or work in Bristol. Maybe you even come from Bristol. Maybe you know the department directly. Maybe you plan to be at Rentschler Field to pay your respects to the fallen officers.

This is a deep loss and a tragic moment. I see it. I hear it. I feel it. Not just for our staff, but our families and friends. What do you need in this moment of grief? Do you need to vent, cry, share a moment of silence together, or do you need a listening ear while you process? I am here if you want to connect to hold space for the tragedy. Perhaps that’s my way of not letting evil win. I want to intentionally make this a point of connection and support so you know you’re not feeling this alone. I’m here. It’s sad. I’m sad with you. Let’s grieve together.

Should you be so moved to help, please see a list of ways to support the families.

You can reach me at dwarriner@uchc.edu, 860-679-3230, or even through Voalte.

—Rev. Daniel D. Warriner, UConn Health Chaplain

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.