John Dempsey Hospital

Hospital Patients Move in to New Tower

UConn Health nursing staff wheel a patient into the new hospital tower. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)
UConn Health nursing staff wheel a patient into the new hospital tower. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

After three years of building and more than 2,000 construction jobs, move-in day arrived at the new UConn John Dempsey Hospital tower Friday morning.

It started at 5:16 a.m. with the opening of the Emergency Department, and an hour later the new ED’s first patient arrived.

Meantime a carefully orchestrated plan to safely move 70 inpatients from the old hospital tower to was underway.

“If we continue at this pace, we’ll be done before 1 o’clock,” said hospital CEO Anne Diamond at about 7:45.

She was right. The last patient was in place shortly after 11:30.

“It was truly an amazing experience,” Diamond says. “We all had opportunities to talk to patients and really see what their reaction was as they moved into the new space, and it has just been so rewarding.”

“This facility is beautiful,” says nurse Sarah Higley, who now works on the 5th floor in the new tower. “The floor is brand new, all the rooms are private, all of the equipment that we have is brand new. Things are going to work a lot better. I was on Surgery 7 for a long time –I worked there as a student, as an aide, and as a nurse – so I’m very familiar with that floor, that floor is my home. And I’m very excited to call this floor my new home.”

UConn Health Chief Nursing Officer Ann Marie Capo delivers a UConn blanket to Myles Connolly, one of 70 patients relocated to the new hospital tower. (Photo by Chris DeFrancesco)
UConn Health Chief Nursing Officer Ann Marie Capo delivers a UConn blanket to Myles Connolly, one of 70 patients relocated to the new hospital tower. (Photo by Chris DeFrancesco)

One of the first patients moved to Higley’s floor was Dr. Michael P. Kruger, a graduate of UConn’s orthopedic residency program in the mid-80s.

“At the time, the hospital was state of the art, and I was well aware of the capabilities of it and the niceties of it,” Kruger says. “But now, moving into this facility, going from semi-private to private rooms, it is a big change. Having a facility where you do get the privacy – when doctors come in to talk to me, I don’t have to share the information with the guy next door – it makes a big difference on how I think you recover and how the outcome’s going to be.”

The 11-floor tower has 169 single-occupancy rooms for enhanced privacy and infection control, and features artwork and natural light.

“This building is a lot more conducive to healing,” said nurse Katelyn Putney after checking on a patient who’d recently moved to the new 6th floor. “It’s brighter, with more open space, and the communications systems we now have are more advanced and better for patient care.”

“It looks beautiful, it looks cheerier. It doesn’t look like a hospital,” said patient Jennifer Boutin shortly after being relocated to her room on the 6th floor. “Everything looks so brand new, everything looks great.”

About 90 minutes after the last patient was moved, asked about the hospital’s readiness for a full opening to the public, Diamond said, “100 percent. We’re ready right now.”

Finish Line in Sight for UConn Health’s New Hospital Tower

  • New UConn Health hospital tower as it appears Oct. 15, 2015 (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health)
It’s only a matter of months now until UConn Health’s new hospital tower changes from a construction worksite to a building ready for occupancy.

The new building, which will feature 169 single-bed inpatient rooms, is widely considered to be the centerpiece of UConn’s share of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Bioscience Connecticut initiative, an $864 million package of state investments designed to be a catalyst for economic growth in the health care and biomedical research industries. As of Sept. 1, the total number of construction jobs associated with Bioscience Connecticut was 4,540.

Malloy was on the UConn Health campus 14 months ago to sign the steel beam that would top out the tower. Construction started on the building and an adjoining 400-space parking garage April 2013.

Clinical staff and administration have started touring parts of the building and seeing finished mock-ups of patient rooms, emergency department bays and operating rooms. The new tower will include:

  • An expanded emergency department
  • Four 28-bed units that will house surgery, orthopedic, oncology and medical patients
  • A 28-bed intensive care unit with expanded surgical, medicine and neurology critical care services
  • A 29-bed intermediate unit

Once the new tower construction is complete and the hospital opens, there will be a second phase of work to make the final connections to the main building through the existing emergency department. There will also be additional exterior site work to complete near the existing ED entrance that cannot be done until after the ED moves.

Outpatient Pavilion

The UConn Health Outpatient Pavilion has one final milestone ahead: the establishment of a women’s health center on the top floor, with services including a women’s radiology center, obstetrics and gynecology, maternal-fetal medicine, and advanced women’s ultrasound.

The first practices moved in to the new building in February, and by early summer floors 1 through 7 were operational. The result has been the movement of nearly all outpatient services into a single place on the lower campus, in a patient-friendly environment, with convenient parking in a connected garage.

With its abundance of natural lighting, energy efficient design, and shower facilities to encourage employees to bike to work, the pavilion is on its way to earning Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Additionally, the Connecticut Green Building Council has just named the building the winner of its 2015 Institutional Award of Merit.

Academic Building

Construction is well underway at the academic entrance, where a modernization and expansion of space for the medical, dental and graduate schools is taking place. Bioscience Connecticut calls for a 30 percent increase in class sizes and the addition and renovations will provide space to support this growth. UConn Health held a groundbreaking on convocation day. The academic entrance will remain a construction site through May.

L Building

Though less visible than the projects already mentioned, a rebuild of UConn Health’s laboratory space in what’s known as the L Building is a significant portion of the Bioscience Connecticut construction. The renovations are being accomplished under two separate projects. Project 1 started in late 2012 and is complete. Project 2 is scheduled to be complete by early 2017, at which time UConn Health will boast modern lab layouts that are open plan and conducive to collaborative research.

Cell and Genome Sciences Building

The addition of incubator laboratory space continues at the Cell and Genome Sciences Building, 400 Farmington Ave., which will enable UConn Health to attract more biotech startups. It’s another aspect of the vision of Bioscience Connecticut to create a worldwide biomedical research/biotech hub in the state. This project is scheduled for completion by the end of November 2015.

Clinic Building

The design work is complete for major renovation to the Dental School clinical space, the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center, and the Main Lobby. This phased renovation will take more than two years to complete but when finished will provide state-of-the-art dental clinical space and an expanded cardiology center with additional exam space. The Main Lobby will also be given a significant update that enhances the patient flow and provides easy access to the renovated spaces. The renovations are expected to begin in the second quarter of 2016.

UConn Health Marks Opening of Canton Medical Facility

  • Dr. Denis Lafreniere is joined by several lawmakers, UConn Health faculty and staff, and guests at the Canton medical facility ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health)
UConn Health held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of its new medical facility and Urgent Care Center at 117 Albany Turnpike in Canton on Tuesday.

“Our mission at UConn is to take care of the citizens of the state of Connecticut and we are very proud and happy to be here,” said Dr. Denis Lafreniere, medical director of outpatient services and associate dean for clinical affairs. “This expands access to quality health care for the citizens of Canton and the surrounding towns,” added Lafreniere.

Patients from over 100 towns and communities have been seen at UConn Health Canton since it opened in the spring, with the majority of patients coming from Canton, Avon, New Hartford, Simsbury, Torrington and Winsted. Located at the corner of Lawton Road and Route 44, the two-story building consists of 17,000 sq. ft. and 27 employees. Services offered at the Canton location include internal medicine, primary care, cardiology, dermatology, MOHs surgery, a blood draw station, and X-ray services.

The Urgent Care Center, open seven days a week, is staffed by certified advanced practitioners and board-certified emergency medicine or family practice physicians that can treat a range of health issues that are not life threatening, but need prompt attention.

Several lawmakers attended the ceremony including Canton First Selectman Richard Barlow who said the new facility is a welcome addition to the town of Canton and “provides valuable services that the town desperately needs.”

State Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-Canton), also welcomed the new UConn Health facility located at the gateway to northwest Connecticut. “UConn has been such a great partner in everything we do at the state level, from the facility up at Storrs, to the John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington, and now the facility here in Canton,” said Witkos.

“It’s quite appropriate as we open this facility to remember other residents on this spot who engaged in the same practice,” said State Rep. Tim LeGeyt (R-Avon, Canton) who also attended the ceremony. UConn Health’s new facility is located where a house once stood that was built in 1796 by a well-regarded Revolutionary War physician and surgeon Dr. Solomon Everest. Everest provided health care to the community for almost 30 years.

UConn Health has a 15-year lease with a private development company, Sard Realty, LLC in Avon.

UConn Health Hospital CEO Joins State Hospital Association Trustees

UConn Health’s top hospital executive is now also a Connecticut Hospital Association trustee.

Anne Diamond, who was named CEO of John Dempsey Hospital in December after 16 months as interim CEO, was elected to the CHA Board of Trustees at the association’s annual meeting June 30.

“I am honored to be among the executives elected to represent the dynamic needs of Connecticut hospitals now and into the future,” Diamond says. “I believe my clinical, administrative, research and legal experience brings a unique perspective to the challenging issues of health care today and for the future.”

It’s the first time a UConn hospital executive has been a CHA trustee.

“It speaks to the emerging leadership role that UConn Health is taking in the hospital landscape within the state,” Diamond says. “As a trustee, I will have the opportunity to better understand the pressing issues of hospitals within our state, region and nationally on key health care issues in the areas of quality and patient safety, access and coverage, workforce, community health, health equity, and hospital reimbursement.”

Diamond joins a 21-member board that serves as CHA’s principal policy-making body. Trustees include health care institution chief executives as well as hospital trustees, physicians and other senior health care leaders. Her term runs through June 2018.

“Anne brings to the CHA Board extraordinary experience and commitment to patient care. She is deeply involved in improving population health, serving as co-chair of the CHA Asthma Initiative and as a member of the Committee on Population Health,” says CHA CEO Jennifer Jackson. “Through her leadership, UConn Health John Dempsey Hospital is also a leader in quality and patient safety, and recently won CHA’s John D. Thompson Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Healthcare Through the Use of Data for its project, STEMI Partnership for Patient Outcome Optimization. We look forward to having Anne serve as a member of the CHA Board of Trustees.”

Before her appointment as interim CEO of John Dempsey Hospital, Diamond served for two years as the hospital’s chief operating officer. She joined UConn Health in 2010 as associate vice president of clinical operations.

“This is an exciting time for UConn Health in so many ways, as our new hospital and outpatient pavilion provide true healing environments for our patients,” Diamond says. “As a trustee, I will be able to ensure that the needs of our patients are represented as new statewide initiatives are planned.”

Diamond, who earned an Executive Juris Doctor from the Concord School of Law, began her career as a nuclear medicine technologist.

The CHA Board of Trustees is one of many boards and committees on which she serves:

  • American Heart Association Go Red For Women (past chair 2014)
  • American Heart Association Ball Committee,
  • Leo and Anne Albert Institute for Bladder Cancer Care and Research (treasurer)
  • Capital Area Health Consortium
  • Women’s Choice Award for Healthcare Advisory Board
  • American Red Cross Gala Committee
  • UConn Health Auxiliary
  • CHA Board of Directors Subcommittees on Population Health, Statewide Asthma Initiative (co-chair)
  • UConn Health Finance Corporation

CHA states its mission as representing the interests of Connecticut’s hospitals on key health care issues through state and federal advocacy.

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