A Leader in Healthcare
By James Battaglio and Carol Latter
At a time when healthcare reform and economic recovery are key issues for the U.S., the Hartford Region is taking bold steps to build on its impressive healthcare assets and provide state-of-the-art care to people throughout Connecticut and across the nation.
Metro Hartford is already a healthcare mecca for those seeking top-quality care. Now an ambitious plan to ramp up existing levels of collaboration among the region’s hospitals is expected to provide an even higher quality of clinical care, accelerate medical research, create efficiencies and improve communication—while enhancing Metro Hartford’s reputation as a center of excellence that attracts patients and practitioners from across the country.
Metro Hartford’s Growing Healthcare Network
In early May, the Connecticut General Assembly approved Governor M. Jodi Rell’s $352 million initiative called the UConn Health Network and Connecticut Bioscience Initiative. The landmark proposal would not only transform the way healthcare is delivered in the state, she said, but create more than 5,000 new jobs in under 10 years, and eventually bring more than $1 billion in new tax revenues to Connecticut.
Important Upgrades and Developments
At the center of the network plan is the renewal of the John Dempsey Hospital, including the construction of a new state of-the-art patient tower located at the University of Connecticut Health Center campus in Farmington.
Dr. Cato T. Laurencin—UConn Health Center’s vice president for health affairs, and dean of the UConn School of Medicine—describes the campus as the region’s “integrated academic medical center for clinical care, education and research.”
The proposal also includes a number of initiatives based at, or involving, regional hospitals to address some of the most pressing healthcare issues facing the region.
A More Coordinated Approach to Healthcare
The creation of the healthcare network for Metro Hartford is contingent on receiving $100 million in federal funding or funding from other sources.
UConn President Michael Hogan is confident that the plan for a more coordinated approach to healthcare in the region will become reality.
“This kind of vision is exactly what’s needed as Connecticut looks ahead to continuing its role as a leader in innovation and care for our citizens,” he says. Hogan adds that the governor’s proposal “will stimulate job growth, promote economic development and improve access to the state-of-the-art healthcare that our faculty and staff deliver every day.”
Laurencin says the hospitals associated with the proposed health network already share many connections: “The UConn Health Center serves as an academic hub and really tries to unite the region in a number of clinical areas.” UConn Health Center’s pediatrics and family medicine departments, for example, are based at Connecticut Children’s and Saint Francis, respectively, while its neurology and emergency medicine programs are offered jointly with Hartford Hospital.
At the medical school, a core faculty of approximately 500 members is located at UConn and Connecticut Children’s, “but we also have another 600 clinical faculty members who work at the other hospitals and community practitioners in the region. These hospitals and community sites collectively create a great learning environment for medical students and residents,” Dr. Laurencin explains.
An ambitious plan to ramp up existing levels of collaboration among
hospitals is expected to provide an even higher quality of clinical care,
accelerate medical research, create efficiencies and improve communication.
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UConn Health Center
Each hospital offers its own area of expertise, with UConn having signature programs in musculoskeletal medicine, cardiology and cancer care.
UConn has great expertise in orthopedic surgery. “National and international leaders in sports medicine arthroplasty practice at UConn Health Center,” Dr. Laurencin notes.
UConn Health Center also is home to the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center, where a multidisciplinary team of cardiologists, vascular surgeons and hypertension experts work to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease. UConn Health Center also operates a world-class center for smoking cessation.
UConn Health Center’s third major area of expertise, Dr. Laurencin says, is its oncology treatment program, “which offers expert cancer treatment in the environment of academic research and a medical center with expertise in clinical trials. This ensures that the care being provided is state of the art.”
Its top-rated dental school, meanwhile, offers “a high level of care as well as crossfertilization between the medical and dental areas,” says Dr. Laurencin.
The center is also a leader in stem cell research, having established the UConn Stem Cell Institute (UCSCI) after the state passed legislation to fund stem cell research in 2005. A new $52 million, 117,000-square-foot research facility dubbed the Cell and Genomic Sciences Building is slated to open this July. The center will bring together some 180 scientists and their staffs, with the goal of promoting interdisciplinary research to advance research and technology transfer in the stem cell field.
Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center consistently demonstrates high-quality and low-cost performance and has embraced a culture of continuous improvement designed to achieve BestCare for a LifeTime™.
At Saint Francis, we designate a clinical service as a Center of Excellence when it performs as a leader in its field, maintains an unparalleled level of quality, and has a significant commitment to education and research. We currently identify five Centers of Excellence in the following clinical areas:
• Rehabilitation Services
• Women’s and Children’s Care
These Centers of Excellence have combined world-class protocols and outcomes with the latest treatments and technologies to deliver the highest level of patient care. Each one exemplifies our commitment to clinical excellence and compassionate caring.
With 867 beds and a campus that encompasses more than 50 acres in the center of the city, Hartford Hospital is one of the largest healthcare facilities in New England, offering centers of excellence in trauma, transplant surgery, cancer, cardiology, gynecological surgery, high-risk pregnancy, mental health, bariatric surgery and a stroke center.
The hospital houses the Helen and Harry Gray Cancer Center, New England’s only National Cancer Institute community cancer center, along with the freestanding Institute of Living mental health hospital, which is ranked 17th in the nation, and the LIFE STAR air ambulance, Connecticut’s only hospital helicopter. The hospital recently expanded its existing prostate, kidney and hysterectomy robotic surgical program by adding cardiac, gynecologic oncology and urogynecological surgery, thus creating the largest robotic surgical program in New England. Its stroke and bariatric surgical centers are also Connecticut’s largest.
As the flagship institution within the Hartford Healthcare Corporation (HHCC), which includes a growing number of hospitals and other healthcare facilities, Hartford Hospital is an integral component in a continuum of care that spans much of northern Connecticut.
“Healthcare is the largest cottage industry in the U.S.,” says James Blazer, senior vice president and chief strategy officer. “We believe a regional system of care is far better, in that it takes the patient from a cottage approach to a seamless system of healthcare.” Blazer says that healthcare system hospitals benefit from shared services.
The hospital is home to the state’s first Simulation Center, launched in 1999, which features lifelike, fully responsive computerized replicas of the human body that allow medical students, practicing physicians, first responders and other clinicians to further hone their craft. The center, accredited by the American College of Surgeons, will soon add cutting-edge resources to train the next generation of surgeons in the latest robotic and minimally invasive techniques. The program is expected to be New England’s only center for comprehensive experiential learning for surgeons and clinicians using simulation technologies.
Other members of the HHCC include: VNA Healthcare Inc., Eastern Rehabilitation Network, the Institute of Living, Natchaug Hospital, MidState Medical Center, Windham Community Memorial Hospital and Clinical Lab Partners.
“Healthcare is the largest cottage industry in the U.S. We believe a
regional system of care is far better,
in that it takes the patient from a cottage approach to a seamless system of healthcare.”
— James Blazer, SVP and CSO, Hartford Hospital
America’s healthcare system is entering a new era, and Elliot Joseph believes that real opportunities to improve local healthcare delivery lie ahead.
“The time is now to transform our industry,” says Joseph, 56, president and CEO of Hartford Healthcare and its flagship tertiary care center, Hartford Hospital. Change, he says, is required—and must go beyond the reforms just passed by Congress. Healthcare providers must help reshape the U.S. system by creating regional affiliations that provide consistently high-quality care to individuals with greater efficiency and coordination.
A veteran network builder, Joseph was president and CEO of St. John Health in Michigan before coming to Hartford in 2008. His vision for Hartford Healthcare, which also includes two community hospitals, 3,000 physicians, a VNA, behavioral health centers and other providers, is of a network that produces consistently excellent outcomes and creates a seamless patient experience.
Connecticut Children’s Medical Center
The Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is the state’s only freestanding children’s hospital. “All of our services are geared to infants, children and adolescents, and we emphasize the importance of family-centered care in all of our practices,” says Wendy Warring, Connecticut Children’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Home to the region’s premier neonatal ICU, Connecticut Children’s operates a strong clinical and research program in digestive diseases, and a urology program that involves solid-tumor surgery, complex reconstructive surgery and some oncology.
Connecticut Children’s has the most comprehensive pediatric oncology program in western New England. In March, the hospital unveiled plans to construct a new outpatient Care Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. The $5 million center will feature state-of-the-art treatment in a nurturing environment and will double the space available for oncology treatment.
Patients come from all over the state, but “we are trying to bring pediatrics specialty care to different regions of the state and see kids in an ambulatory setting in a way that’s convenient to parents,” Warring says. To that end, Connecticut Children’s is setting up a series of satellite offices. It also operates a 12-bed inpatient unit at St. Mary’s hospital in Waterbury, where parents can access a broad range of secondary and tertiary care.
“Despite the economy, Saint Francis Hospital made the determination
this community deserves and will support a world-class facility such as this.”
— James Schepker, SVP, Marketing and Business Development,
Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center
Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., a nationally and internationally prominent orthopedic surgeon and chemical engineer, leads the University of Connecticut Health Center as its vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.
Dr. Laurencin earned his medical degree magna cum laude from Harvard. He also earned a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering/ biotechnology from M.I.T.
Dr. Laurencin is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and has been recognized by America’s Top Doctors and America’s Top Surgeons.
In science, Dr. Laurencin has been named one of the 100 Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Scientific American magazine honored him among the top 50 innovators for 2007 for his work on regeneration of knee tissue.
Most recently, President Barack Obama named Dr. Laurencin a 2009 winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentorship.
To read Dr. Laurencin’s full biography, visit www.uchc.edu.
Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center
At the 617-bed Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, the emphasis is on five centers of excellence—cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, rehabilitative medicine and women’s and children’s services—as well as its new 10-story, $184 million John T. O’Connell Tower, currently under construction.
When completed next May, the 318,000-squarefoot structure will exemplify Saint Francis’ emphasis on “progressive healthcare services,” according to James Schepker, senior vice president of marketing and business development.
“Despite the economy, Saint Francis Hospital made the determination that this community deserves and will support a world-class facility such as this,” says Schepker.
The new tower will include an enlarged emergency department with 70 treatment areas and 10 ambulance bays, 19 new operating rooms, 72 private patient rooms, six dedicated orthopedic operating rooms and 63 inpatient orthopedic beds for the new Connecticut Joint Replacement Institute. The O’Connell Tower will also feature a helipad atop its roof.
“By converting all inpatient rooms to private accommodations, both within the tower and within the existing Saint Francis Hospital, we’ve been able to make this transition without adding to our bed capacity,” says Schepker.
The hospital houses Connecticut’s largest open-heart surgery center and ranks seventh in the nation in terms of joint-replacement volume.
In addition to owning and operating Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital, the state’s only freestanding acute-care rehabilitation hospital, Saint Francis Hospital offers progressive services for women and children, including state-of-the-art birthing facilities, advanced gynecological programs, a dedicated breast health center and a renowned, multidisciplinary cancer center.
Saint Francis is in the process of expanding its ambulatory facilities, including an urgent care center in neighboring Bloomfield, an access center in Ellington, and three more urban and suburban sites currently in the planning stage.
Hospital for Special Care
As a long-term acute-care facility, Hospital for Special Care (HSC) in New Britain is committed to the ongoing treatment and rehabilitation of patients with chronic and complex conditions. Many of the top acutecare hospitals throughout Connecticut refer patients here for continued care and rehabilitation.
“We’re an answer to acute care’s problems,” says Lynn Ricci, senior vice president for administration at HSC.
Providing a continuum of highly individualized, compassionate care from pediatrics through adulthood, HSC is nationally renowned for treatment within its five specialty areas: pulmonary disease, acquired brain injury disorders, complex pediatrics, neuromuscular disease and spinal cord disorders.
It is the only hospital in the region to treat neuromuscular disease with the magnitude that it does. Despite being a chronic disease healthcare institution, it has devoted 33 neurobehavioral beds to a specialized unit.
In addition to its 200-bed inpatient facility, HSC operates a 28-bed satellite, offering a range of today’s most advanced outpatient rehabilitative and therapeutic services.
The hospital’s comprehensive spinal cord program focuses on both inpatients and outpatients and includes physiatrists and a therapy pool for patients with significant physical challenges.
“Our programs have really grown throughout the community. For example, we have strong relationships with Hartford Hospital and Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, as well as UConn Health Center and the Hospital of Central Connecticut,” explains Ricci.
The Hospital of Central Connecticut
New Britain General and Bradley Memorial in Southington merged in October 2006 to become The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HCC) in a successful effort to streamline operations and reduce costs.
“This has resulted in a bigger, stronger hospital that can provide more services to a larger group close to home, so people don’t have to travel far when they’re sick,” says Helayne Lightstone, HCC’s director of corporate communications.
Today, HCC is recognized as a clinically advanced teaching hospital that offers a high level of sophisticated services to the local community. “Patients from across the state come to our Joslin Diabetes Center affiliate, which offers the most advanced care for diabetes, from day-to-day care to clinical research,” says Lightstone.
The hospital’s bariatric weight-loss programs earned it a “Center of Excellence” designation from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. HCC is also known for its clinical research and surgery involving joints and spine. “We provide very high levels of neurosurgical care, through both traditional and radiation surgery,” she adds. HCC also has advanced capabilities in terms of knifeless surgery for brain cancer.
HCC has been designated a stroke center by the state and various accrediting bodies, and several years ago received approval to conduct emergency angioplasty.
In addition, the hospital has “one of the busiest emergency departments in the state, and yet we are known for our short waiting times,” Lightstone said. By visiting the hospital web site or downloading a free phone app, patients can determine which of the hospital’s campuses has the shortest waiting time before heading to the emergency department.
A Healthy Place to Live
Metro Hartford’s healthcare assets make the region a top-tier place to live and work, says David A. Gladstone, a partner at BlumShapiro, the largest regional accounting and business consulting firm in Connecticut. “A true strength of the acutecare delivery system in the area is the access provided to all who need it. Our hospitals offer a full range of services, and the hospital clinics and community health clinics provide a safety net for primary care to ensure that everyone’s health needs are met. Unlike other areas of the country that have access limitations, we have the quality and capacity to meet our community needs.”
The proximity of top educational institutions in the area, meanwhile, ensures a steady supply of highly trained healthcare professionals. Among them is Saint Joseph College, which is poised to open a new pharmacy school in downtown Hartford.
Saint Joseph President Pamela Trotman Reid says the college “has a strong tradition of excellence in the sciences, particularly health sciences, paired with a contemporary approach to addressing emerging societal needs. Our programs combine top-notch faculty and facilities with an emphasis on service to others.”
All in all, says UConn’s Dr. Laurencin, the Hartford region offers a high level of care, and its hospitals have “incredible expertise in pretty much every clinical area. The credentials and background of individuals are really superb, and the experience and expertise are in many ways unparalleled.”
He adds, “The vision is for us to rise as a region, to be a destination for healthcare, and that happens with all the hospitals working together to uplift clinical care, education and research.”
Metro Hartford Alliance
The MetroHartford Alliance ensures that the Hartford Region competes aggressively for jobs, capital and talent. To that end, the Alliance supports pro-growth legislation, helps local companies expand, assists start-ups, encourages government investment in key infrastructure assets, develops programs for young professionals, and recruits companies from out of state to build a presence in the Region.
Visit www.metrohartford.com for more information.
Hartford is one of America’s original cities with a proud, historic past and a promising, vibrant future. Connecticut’s Capital City is the economic and cultural hub of a region of 1.2 million people. It is an arts mecca—complete with 200 arts and heritage organizations. It’s also part of the Knowledge Corridor with the University of Hartford and Trinity College—and now the downtown area has become an educational magnet with the University of Connecticut, St. Joseph’s College, Rensselaer Hartford and Capital Community College introducing new programs and facilities to fuel the city’s and the region’s growth.
Hartford is a leader in healthcare, has nationally recognized hospitals and is home to major insurance and financial service corporations. Aetna, The Hartford, United Health Group and Travelers, among others, benefit from a highly educated and productive workforce that makes Hartford unique.
Add to this the majestic Connecticut River, the new Connecticut Science Center, our Convention Center and the convenience of Bradley International Airport, and you can see why Hartford Means Business!
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