Employees

Chaplain’s Corner: 2 Years of COVID

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

Is there any way to recap these past two years? It’s hard to say. Yet, moments like this are necessary because acknowledging this benchmark is important.

Remember when we were just supposed to wait two weeks and everything would be alright? But then two years passed. Many got sick. Some recovered. Some died. Our patient care routines changed. Our lives changed.

COVID has impacted my entire life — all of it — mind, body, and spirit. COVID brought loss. My reaction to the losses from COVID brought grief. So it makes sense that I’m still grieving. I talk about grief a lot because it is all around us. How about you? As we emerge from pandemic life, could I encourage you to spend some time considering how COVID has affected you — mentally, emotionally, socially, physically, spiritually.

Your grief is necessary. However, if I’m honest with myself, tackling grief is often the last thing I want to be doing. It’s hard to make space to really sit with a loss. But even when it doesn’t feel productive and I’d rather not deal with it, going through the grief process is an absolutely necessary experience. Why? Because the reality is that you lost something and it hurts badly, and like any other injury, it needs to be addressed and tended to. If a cut gets infected when left untreated, how much more will our grieving, injured hearts cause us trouble if we don’t take intentional steps to heal after a season of loss?

yellow heartDo you know what happens to grief if you do your best to ignore or hide your pain? It listens to you and goes somewhere into the depths of your heart, where it transforms. It doesn’t go away, but rather gets balled up and tends to “leak” out in the form of anger, depression, or unhealthy habits. This is worse than the grief itself.

So, how do we care for our grieving hearts? Just like any other traumatic injury, we have to acknowledge it, find ways to rest, and patiently work through the steps of healing. Depending on the moment and the stage of grief, this might look like a conversation with a friend, prayer, taking a long run, reading a good book, going on a day trip, or talking with a counselor. These are small steps on the road of healing. They don’t take away what happened but they can help to move us forward in our journey.

Grief and loss have the power to define us, but they also have the power to spark growth in us. What may start off like a small seed in you can blossom, causing you to grow in ways you hadn’t imagined before. My hope is that we can navigate this path of grief with empathy, kindness, patience, and love — both for ourselves and for one another.

—Rev. Daniel D. Warriner, UConn Health Chaplain

Nancy Dupont Honored With Dr. Deckers Award

The 2021 Dr. Peter J. Deckers Employee Appreciation Award goes to Nancy Dupont, UConn Health’s epidemiology director.

Dupont was chosen among seven finalists, each of whom was featured in his or her own nomination video.

Stream the award presentation ceremony on Mediasite.

award presentationaward presentationaward presentationaward presentationaward presentationaward presentationaward presentationclose-up of hand medals

Also at this year’s celebration, as a culmination to our “Seasons of Gratitude” efforts in December, Dr. Andy Agwunobi, UConn Health CEO and interim University president, conducted a hand medal ceremony. The hand medal is a commemorative piece designed to honor the selfless service of the UConn Health workforce. Leaders across the organization are conducting medal presentations for their teams throughout the end of the year. In addition, the UConn Health community is invited to continue to post their sentiments of gratitude on our Wall of Gratitude.

 

Making Positive Changes in a Slow but Productive Way

Linda York portrait
Linda York is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at UConn Health. (Photo by Tina Encarnacion)

As a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at UConn Health, every day I am educating patients on their diet for various reasons.

Perhaps it’s how to eat a lower-fat, healthier diet to lose weight, how to eat a consistent carbohydrate meal plan to achieve better glucose control, or how to improve gastrointestinal symptoms by making dietary modifications. Whatever it is, it involves change. As we all know, achieving change can be overwhelming.

Why is that? In the Fogg Behavior Model explained in the book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, author B.J. Fogg explains that there is a relationship between three factors: motivation, ability, and prompt. He explains that motivation can be on a scale of 0 to 10, and the higher your motivation the easier it is to do something. However, we need something to prompt us to do something. These prompts or cues for me could be that before I go downstairs, I bring my running clothes and sneakers so it is easy to put them on and do my morning run.

Another important point is to have specific little habits that you do which will add up to losing weight versus having a goal of just losing weight. An example could be, every time I sit down to eat I am going to drink 2 cups of water. This will fill me up and help me to eat less at that meal, and help me stay hydrated. Perhaps feeling good about drinking those 6 cups of water will help you to then eat at least half of the plate of veggies. One good tiny habit leads to the other.

How many times have you heard to do a half hour of aerobic exercise every day? Perhaps if you try to do a five-minute walk at the same time every day, you will be successful at being consistent in that five-minute walk and gradually will increase your walk to 10 minutes and so on until you get to your goal of 30 minutes each day. Eventually, walking for a half hour and drinking two cups of water before each meal will become a habit.

So next time you want to make a change such as learn a language, lose some weight, or become a better listener, break it down and achieve one tiny habit at a time.

—Linda York M.S., R.D., CDCES

Linda York is a Sodexo dietitian who works in the outpatient clinic at UConn Health.

Looking at Us: Registered Dietitians

‘Changing the Way People and Patients Eat, One Plate at a Time,’ a perspective from UConn Health dietitian Linda York

Linda York portrait
Linda York is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at UConn Health. (Photo by Tina Encarnacion)

You have seen them around – perhaps in the NICU, on the medical floors, in the cafeteria, at medical meetings, education seminars, in the outpatient cancer center or diabetes nutrition clinic. Who are they? They are the registered dietitians of UConn Health, employed by Sodexo. (Sodexo is a worldwide food service company for hospitals, companies and other venues and has been at UConn Health for several years.)

March is National Nutrition Month so our Sodexo registered dietitians will be in the cafeteria featuring a weekly theme and a delicious recipe from Sodexo.  Chef Roland will prepare a sample of the recipe for you to taste.

Here is a summary of the weekly themes presented for National Nutrition Month.

Week 1: Kerry Coughlin, MSRD, kicks it off with “Smart Tips to Build a Healthy Salad.”

Week 2: Hannah Anctil, R.D., presents “Eating on the Run in 2021.”

Week 3: Erin McDonald, R.D., offers “Power Up Breakfast.”

Week 4: William Kelsey, R.D., features a cultural food theme.

National Nutrition Month 2021 logo
(provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)

The other Sodexo registered dietitians at UConn Health who are working behind the scenes for National Nutrition month are Erica Burdon, MSRD, Chris Carnright, MSRD and myself.

And who keeps us all organized? That would be Melissa Kelly, MSRD, Sodexo hospital clinical manager, who not only manages the R.D. staff, she also offers her clinical expertise and guidance in all areas of clinical nutrition.

Be sure to check Lifeline for posts featuring the weekly recipe/handout done by our Sodexo registered dietitians.

And next time you see one of us, please say hello. We are here for you!

—Linda York MSRD, CDCES

Campus Safety Corner: When Comfort Zone Becomes Dangerous

Deputy Police Chief Maggie Silver
UConn Deputy Police Chief Maggie Silver (Photo by Kristin Wallace)

The core enemy of situational awareness is complacency. Each one of us develops instinctual situational awareness. Over time, we get complacent in our comfort zones or stop listening to our senses. We disconnect from paying attention. We let our guards down.

I am not asking you to be in constant hyper-alert mode. An endless hyper-alert mode is draining and dangerous to our health. Understanding your unique relationship and response to your environment is vital to situational awareness. Exercising your situational awareness is good for all.  If each of us takes a moment to check our surroundings and report any unusual behaviors or situations, our community is better off for it.

As a reminder, an individual should not make you uncomfortable. The behavior makes you uncomfortable. Their actions, or in some cases inactions, which seem odd or out of place are what you will report. Frequently individuals make comments after an incident occurred stating that they felt like something was not right. However, they failed to notify an authority because they did not listen to their personal alarm. Next time a situation seems odd, remove the individual. Observe the actions or inactions of the person. You know your environment; trust your senses, and report the behavior that does not fit the situation.

Remember that situational awareness must be practiced because it quickly erodes into complacency. Practice situational awareness by thinking of activities that reduce your complacency and increase your ability to be present.

Do you have a suggested topic for the Campus Safety Corner? Email your suggestion, with “Campus Safety Corner” in the subject line, to pulse@uchc.edu.

New Leadership Roles for Dr. Lynn Kosowicz

The following announcement is from UConn Health leadership:

Lynn Kosowicz portrait, no white coat
Dr. Lynn Kosowicz is interim chair of the UConn School of Medicine Department of Medicine and interim chief of medical services. (Photo by Tina Encarnacion)

We are pleased to announce that Lynn Kosowicz, M.D., FACP, has accepted the appointment as Interim Chair of Department of Medicine and Interim Chief of Medical Services. Dr. Kosowicz, currently the director of the Clinical Skills Assessment Program, completed medical school, internal medicine residency and a year as chief medical resident at UConn, and then joined the faculty in the Department of Medicine in 1991. A dedicated and respected primary care internist, Dr. Kosowicz has focused her academic contributions on improving patient care by enhancing the clinical skills of learners and practitioners through simulation, mentorship, and research. Examples of grant-funded research include the design of a novel approach to teaching physical examination skills that has been disseminated to many institutions across the nation, and an AMA-sponsored project that prioritizes social determinants of health to improve chronic disease prevention and management. Dr. Kosowicz has been recognized within the institution by appointment to the Academic Affairs Subcommittee of the Board of Directors, as well as the Education Council, Faculty Review Board, and LCME self-study task forces and steering committees. Dr. Kosowicz has received several awards, including the NEGEA/AAMC Distinguished Service & Leadership Award; the Thornton Award, Connecticut Chapter of American College of Physicians, in recognition of outstanding contributions to medical education; and the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. Internationally, she was invited to train and mentor faculty at the Universidad de Chile Escuela Medicina as they developed a successful interprofessional Clinical Skills center in Santiago.

Dr. Kosowicz’s family is a multigenerational UConn Health family. Her father introduced her to UConn in 1968 when he joined the faculty of the new School of Dental Medicine. Three of her four daughters are health care professionals – one a gastroenterologist, who graduated from UConn’s School of Medicine, and two are nurses, one of whom graduated from UConn’s School of Nursing.

Please welcome and support Dr. Kosowicz in her new roles.

Bruce T. Liang, M.D.
Dean, School of Medicine

Andrew Agwunobi M.D., MBA
CEO UConn Health and EVP for Health Affairs

 

 

Campus Safety Corner: Testing Our Resilience

Deputy Police Chief Maggie Silver
UConn Deputy Police Chief Maggie Silver (Photo by Kristin Wallace)

The new phrase in our vocabulary as we reconnect with family and friends in an attempt to reset our routines is “this is new normal.” For many people, the mere thought of this as a new normal is upsetting. If you are one of those individuals, give yourself permission to be dismayed. We have experienced a global pandemic. However, remember that there is an amazing resilience within each one of us.

  • Resilience is a key element to our survival. Resilience is about growing and even thriving in adversity. The key is to develop opportunities to feed your resilience through mindfulness, relationships, and goals. Each of those points has the potential to improve your resilience. For instance, one of the most important aspects of resilience is mindfulness. Feed the positive and disregard the negative. Develop a system of checks and balances of your daily thoughts. Learn to foster and trust healthy thoughts.
  • Relationships are essential to resilience. At this stage, you can have a gathering with appropriate social distancing or have a Zoom party. Nurture your support system and respect your journey as well as the journey of those around you.
  • Lastly, establish goals and outline objectives that will help you positively focus your energy. Develop a positive, clear path for yourself.

These three simple measures will ensure that regardless of the type of life-changing situation you face, you will always emerge stronger.