From the Offices of Jeffrey A. Flaks and Jeffry Nestler, MD

The Seymour Street Journal is published every two weeks to communicate key messages pertinent to our hospital’s physicians, and to promote alignment between the medical staff and administration. It will keep you informed on hospital news in a concise, convenient format. SSJ will be sent to your preferred email address every other Sunday at 6 p.m.

We’d like to hear from you. For any questions or suggestions, please contact Dr. Jeffry Nestler, medical staff president, at 860-836-7313, or

January 8, 2012 Edition

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HH Facts
1948: Hartford Hospital was the first hospital to "manufacture" its own oxygen.

Top News


Sen. Blumenthal Discusses Drug Shortages at Hartford Hospital Press Conference

Sen. Richard Blumenthal held a press conference at Hartford Hospital on Jan. 4 regarding medication shortages. He cited hoarding and “gray markets” as possible causes of drug shortages that have plagued U.S. hospitals in the past few years, and called on the Justice Department to investigate drug distributors’ policies. Accompanying Blumenthal was Susan Block, 72, of West Hartford, who was being treated for a recurrence of ovarian cancer at Hartford Hospital. Days before her fourth treatment, she was told that the hospital had no Doxil, the drug that doctors told her would give her a 70 percent chance of sending the cancer back into remission. Also speaking was Dr. Amy Brown of Hartford Hospital's gyn oncology department, who said physicians have to "prioritize" and decide which patients most need the crucial medications. "We don't know when the shortages are coming, so we end up scrambling to find medications from other sources or to find acceptable substitutes," Brown said. “When we do find alternative medicines, they're often less effective or have more side effects.”

Newly Expanded ED Opening Jan. 31; Open House Planned

Construction is complete on the newly expanded Emergency Department. Construction began in July on the $16 million project. Before the renovations, the ED was accommodating 100,000 patient visits per year in a space built to accommodate 65,000. Twenty-six new treatment spaces were added, bringing the total to 86. There will be an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at noon. Patients will be seen in the new area the following day, Feb. 1.

Robotics Leaders Establish Executive VIP Program

Hartford Hospital’s renowned robotic program recently prompted Maine Medical Center and Dartmouth Medical Center to visit and learn about our system. The success of these visits has prompted Hartford Hospital and Intuitive Surgical to create an Executive VIP Program-the first in the country-designed to facilitate discussion between our robotic leadership and guests who are evaluating an investment in robotic technology or seeking to optimize their current status. At this program, Hartford Hospital will discuss how they built a successful, multi-specialty robotic surgery program along with the strategic, clinical, operational, and educational results achieved.

Multimedia TV Studio To Launch This Month

Thanks to the generosity of the medical staff, the Hartford Hospital multi-media studio will officially launch this month. The studio – located on JB 5 – is complete with the ReadyCam, a broadcast-quality system that can link Hartford Hospital with cable, national network or local television stations for live interviews. The studio will open many more opportunities to showcase our remarkable achievements and tout the expertise of our medical staff, without them having to leave the Hartford campus. One of these exciting opportunities is the start of a new weekly segment called “Medical Rounds,” featured live on WFSB Channel 3. The segment will air Wednesdays at 5:45 p.m. during the evening news, and will feature our doctors talking about the latest health news happening here and across the country.

Bariatric Program Celebrates Seventh Anniversary

The Hartford Hospital Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery is celebrating its seventh anniversary this month. The program began when Dr. Darren S. Tishler joined Connecticut Surgical Group in August 2004. Dr. Tishler performed the first minimally invasive procedure for weight loss at Hartford Hospital on January 5, 2005. Dr. Pavlos K. Papasavas joined the surgical weight loss program in January 2008. The Surgical Weight Loss Center has to date performed more than 2,700 procedures and is designated a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by both the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS).  In 2011, the center again performed the most bariatric procedures in the state. The bariatric surgeons perform a full spectrum of minimally invasive and robotic procedures including gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy and revisional procedures. 

Free Flu Shots Available At Your Convenience

The first rule of medicine is to do no harm. One of the best things we can do to safeguard the health of our patients and their families is to get a flu shot. Free flu shots are available in Occupational Health in the basement of the Brownstone Building, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Appointments are encouraged but not required, and can be made by calling 860-545-2175. If you have questions, call Kathy Hersey at 860-545-3475 or email




Dr. Tarantino Assumes Presidency of AACU Board

Dr. Arthur Tarantino, a urologist with Hartford Specialists, assumed the presidency of the American Association of Clinical Urologists board of directors at its annual business meeting Sept. 25, 2011. The AACU is the only national organization to serve urology with the sole purpose of promoting and preserving the professional autonomy and financial viability of each of its members. "I am proud to lead this organization at a time where there is a tremendous opportunity to influence legislative and regulatory policies that will impact patient care and the practice of urology for years to come," Dr. Tarantino remarked. He also serves as treasurer for the New England Section of the American Urology Association and chair of the AUA Practice Management Committee.

New England Surgical Society Elects Dr. Neil Yeston

Dr. Neil Yeston, a trauma surgeon who stepped down from his duties as vice president of academic affairs on January 1, was named president-elect of The New England Surgical Society. He will begin his term as president in September, and will preside over the 2013 Annual Meeting, which will be in Hartford. Dr. Yeston plans to retire from Hartford Hospital in June after 25 years of dedicated service, and will be working on a number of projects in the areas of education and research, especially in support of the Center for Education Simulation and Innovation (CESI). The 92-year-old NESS is considered one of the most prestigious surgical societies in the country. Hartford Hospital has produced more NESS presidents than any other Connecticut hospital, among them Welles Standish, John Reed, James Foster, Peter Deckers, David Crombie and John Welch.

Drs. Browner and Dixon Honored at Arthritis Foundation Event

Dr. Bruce Browner, director of orthopedic surgery, and Dr. Jonathan Dixon, director of rheumatology, were among five city physicians honored at the Mind, Body and Spirit Physician’s Award Dinner during the inaugural Connecticut Wine and Food Festival. The event raised $300,000 for the Arthritis Foundation, New England Region.

Dr. Fox Receives Humanitarian Award From Brain Cancer Group

Dr. Evan Fox, psychiatry, received the physician humanitarian award in December from the organization “Voices Against Brain Cancer.”



Care Coordination


Chemotherapy CPOE: Orders Must Be Entered into SCM; Paper Orders No Longer Accepted

As of Tuesday, January 10, all chemotherapy orders (inpatient and outpatient) will be entered into SCM (Sunrise) and will be viewable on the Orders Tab. The Helen & Harry Gray Infusion Center will NO LONGER accept any paper orders (chemo or non-chemo) as of January 10.            


Research and Academics


Dr. Bow Elected Chair of Biomed Engineering Alliance

Dr. Laurine Bow, VP of research, was elected executive board chair of BEACON (Biomedical Engineering Alliance and Consortium) at the annual meeting held last month. BEACON is a non-profit trade association for the medical device industry dedicated to the development and commercialization of new medical devices and technology.


Operational Update


Medical Staff, Physicians’ Groups Support Boosts Black & Red

With support from the medical staff and physicians’ groups, Hartford Hospital’s 2012 Black & Red is projected to become our highest-grossing single fundraiser ever. Proceeds from the February 4 event, which is nearly sold out, will benefit our Women’s Health Services. Dr. Joel Sorosky, chief of Ob-Gyn and co-director of Women’s Health Services, is serving as chair of the Medical Staff Advisory Committee. Stepping up as presenting sponsors are the hospital’s medical staff and Jefferson Radiology. Director sponsors include the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services at the University of Connecticut Health Center; Connecticut GI; Connecticut Multispecialty Group; Greater Hartford Women’s Health Associates; Gynecology & Obstetrics; Hartford Anesthesiology Associates; Hartford Pathology Associates and Women’s Health Connecticut. Spotlight sponsors include Hartford Cardiac Laboratory; Orthopedic Associates of Hartford and ProHealth Physicians. We are fortunate to have so many vital partners who help Hartford Hospital deliver remarkable care, each and every day. Their support of the Black & Red provides a significant endorsement and sends a positive message to our community and other supporters about the importance of this signature fundraising event and its beneficiary.

Patel Portrays One of the Three Wise Men in Harford’s Three Kings Day Parade

Bimal Patel, vice president of support services, was honored by Hartford’s Hispanic community on Jan. 6 when he portrayed one of the wise men in the popular Three Kings Day parade on Park Street. Three Kings Day, or the Day of the Epiphany, commemorates the arrival of three wise men on camels to Bethlehem bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the baby Jesus. It is popular in Puerto Rico and many Spanish-speaking countries. Hartford Public Schools close in honor of the celebration, which has been a tradition in the city since the 1980s. Parade sponsors were the Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA) and the Institute for the Hispanic Family, Catholic Charities.

New Physicians


HH In the News


Dr. Thompson Quoted in Wall Street Journal About Marathon Training and Heart Risk

Recent news items with headlines such as “Marathon training may pose a heart risk’” have shaken runners. Dr. Paul Thompson, director of cardiology at Hartford Hospital, summed up the issue in a 2006 panel discussion on exercise and evidence-based medicine organized by Medscape: “I don’t want any comments about the risks of exercise to be an impediment to physicians recommending exercise for their patients because of numerous benefits. Exercising is like investing in the stock market: You’re looking for a long-term gain.”

Dr. Salner Comments on UConn Study About Older People Getting Screened For Cancer
Hartford Courant, Dec. 12

Experts recommend against routine screening for certain cancers for people 75 and over, but a UConn study found physicians ignore this recommendation at least half the time. Dr. Andrew Salner, director of the Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center, said: “There’s this kind of dual concern when we treat older folks: Do we give them enough treatment? And do we over-treat them?” He says the answer is not across-the-board guidelines. “It’s all about attempting to tailor the screening to the patient’s particular situation. It also involves informing and empowering patients to make informed decisions.”

Dr. Weinreb Publishes Op-Ed in New York Times

Dr. Steven Weinreb, an internist with Hartford Medical Group, published an op-ed piece in the New York Times on Dec. 27 called “For the Herd’s Sake, Vaccinate.” He argues that we should get vaccinated not for ourselves alone; we should do it for one another. “We assist the infirm, pay our taxes and donate to charity, and getting vaccinated — for the flu, for adult whooping cough, for pneumonia — is just another important societal responsibility. After all, we’re in the same herd.” Read it here.

Genomas’ Genetic Tests Help Identify Effective Antidepressants For Individual Patients
Hartford Courant, Dec. 29

Much hope is riding on pharmacogenetics, a field that offers the promise of "personalized medicine" by predicting a patient's response to specific medications based on their genetics. “There is this huge need" to improve how well drug therapy for mental illness and depression work, said Dr. Gualberto Ruano, president of Genomas. In partnership with Hartford Hospital and the Institute of Living, Genomas developed an Internet portal that distributes the information derived from a DNA analysis on the genes responsible for metabolizing medications. Clinicians can access and use the information to treat patients.

Hospitals: Same Surgery, Widely Different Rates
Connecticut Health I-Team, Dec. 25

Federal reimbursements for surgical procedures swing widely among Connecticut hospitals for a variety of factors, including the type of hospital, regional wages, the income mix and sickness of patients and the number of services provided. UConn’s John Dempsey Hospital receives a higher rate than other hospitals in the state for most procedures. Windham Hospital (a Hartford HealthCare partner) also was consistently among the top five in Medicare reimbursements. For a cardiac valve procedure, Demsey receives the highest median Medicare reimbursement at $82,589, Yale New Haven Hospital is second at $74,140, and Hartford Hospital receives the third highest reimbursement at $64,758. Danbury Hospital receives the lowest ($59,353), about $23,000 less than Demsey, and $5,400 less than Hartford.

IOL Researchers Find Gene for Depression
Fox, Jan. 4

Researchers have discovered a gene that plays a major role in the brain of people who suffer from depression. The gene has not been linked to depression in the past, but in a study from the Hartford Hospital Institute of Living and Yale University, RNF123 affected the brain’s hippocampus, which is altered in depression sufferers. Over the past two decades, scientists have attempted to characterize the genes that cause depression by rating scales of moods, looking at changes in the brain’s structure and how it functions, as well as post-mortem brain tissue from depressed patients. Dr. David Glahn, who worked on the study, said that finding the key to characterizing the gene was to combine all the information.

Eliminating Angioplasty Risk, Through the Wrist
Hartford Courant, Dec. 16

Dr. Francis Kiernan, director of the cardiac catheterization Lab at Hartford Hospital, was quoted in a story about performing radial access artery angioplasty. Under 1 percent of all angioplasties was performed through the wrist in the United States in 2009, but now is up to 12 percent. "Not every [angioplasty] can be done with the radial approach," said Dr. Kiernan. Some patients have poor circulation, or their arteries are too small for the procedure. Diabetics, who need the artery in the wrist in case of dialysis, are discouraged from getting the radial procedure.

Treating Agitation in ER Requires Delicate Balancing Act
Psychiatric News – American Psychiatric Association, Dec. 16

A new guide from the American Association for Emergency Psychiatry calls for verbal deescalation first when evaluating and treating patients with agitation. ER physicians have traditionally relied on drugs to sedate agitated patients. The new guidelines take a more circumspect view. “Medications are the second line for treatment,” said Dr. David Pepper, acting director of emergency psychiatric services at Hartford Hospital. “Use medications only when verbal techniques fail, but use them judiciously, for calming, not sedation. We can’t evaluate patients physically or psychiatrically when they’re asleep and we can’t discharge them either. So we want to calm them so they can participate in their care.” Emergency psychiatrists have several choices of drugs for agitated patients, said Pepper. “But don’t reach for the IM Haldol right away.”


Regional Healthcare News


Hospital for Special Care Plans 2 Projects Totaling $14 Million
Hartford Courant, Dec. 13:

The Hospital for Special Care in New Britain is planning two major projects — an outpatient center and a facility for autistic children — with costs totaling $14 million. The projects have been in the planning for about four years, prompted by an increased need for both space for outpatients and treatment for autism.

Hospitals Find Cure For Financial Woes: Mergers, Dec. 14:

The independent community hospital could soon be a thing of the past, as more hospitals join forces to control costs. In Connecticut, many hospitals are pursuing combining services or have already joined forces. "Folks are really pursuing (these arrangements) because they believe they're necessary in order to provide service to the community," said Steven Frayne, senior VP of health policy for the Connecticut Hospital Association. "In the future, we will see the pace of this kind of activity pick up." But some advocates have concerns about healthcare facilities swallowing each other up, saying it could have serious consequences for consumers.

Hospital Merger Eyes State Assistance; Governor, Waterbury mayor discuss proposal
Republican American, Dec. 29

Waterbury’s mayor and city lawmakers are trying to arrange state assistance for building a new hospital in downtown Waterbury. They met with representatives of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to discuss plans to merge Saint Mary’s Hospital and Waterbury Hospital and build a new hospital. The city's two hospitals are seeking to merge under Texas-based LHP Hospital Group Inc., and the three partners are proposing to build a new state-of-the-art medical center. The merger and the construction of a new hospital require state and federal approvals.


Coming Events


January 19 (Thursday):
IOL Grand Rounds:

The Hunt for Endophenotypes in Autism and Schizophrenia. Presenter: John J. Foxe, Ph.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Neuroscience, Director of Research, Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center, Director, The Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, Associate Director, Rose F. Kennedy Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center Albert Einstein College of Medicine. 12-1:15 p.m. in the Hartford Room, Commons Building, IOL

January 19 (Thursday):
Neonatal-Perinatal Research Day: Improving the Outcomes of Infants and Mothers Through Research

Highlighting Basic, Translational and Clinical Research in Neonatal/Perinatal Medicine by Investigators from Hartford Hospital, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Hospital of Central Connecticut, UConn Health Center and University of Connecticut-Storrs. 2-5 p.m. Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, garden level, conference rooms C and D

February 4 (Saturday):
Black & Red

This year, the Black & Red gala will benefit women’s health services. For more information on the event please e-mail black& or call 860-545-2116.

More events


Hot Topics in Healthcare


Hospitals Take Risky Bet: Buying Physician Practices Yielding Short-term Losses
Hartford Business Journal, Dec. 12

Connecticut hospitals have been in a rush to add doctors and physician practices to their networks to build up market share and a strong referral base. But adding physicians or practices can often be a money-losing venture for hospitals in the short term. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, hospitals lose an average of $200,000 per year over the first three years of employing a physician. But the long-term economics often make financial sense, and hospitals view the short-term loss as an investment.

Physicians Group: Weigh Costs In Treating Patients
NPR, Jan. 2

On Jan. 2, the American College of Physicians issued new ethical guidelines urging doctors to use the latest cost-effectiveness research when deciding how to treat patients. The manual uses the phrase “parsimonious care.” Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute says that’s alarming, and implies that care should be withheld, with an element of stinginess and subterfuge. But the ACP argues the manual simply says that efficient care is good care, and means you use only what's necessary. Listen to the broadcast or read the transcript here.


The Savings Illusion — Why Clinical Quality Improvement Fails to Deliver Bottom-Line Results
NEJM, Dec. 29

It is a core belief in health care that improving clinical quality will reduce costs. Reducing readmissions, shortening lengths of stay, and building efficiency into clinical processes should reduce resource utilization and lower costs. Yet true savings from improved clinical quality rarely materialize. Manufacturing companies have demonstrated the cost benefits of improving quality and efficiency. So why haven't nearly two decades of work on improving health care quality had a measurable effect on costs?


Voices Of Our Patients


Dr. Henry Low Expresses Gratitude for Care Received

Dear B9E Nursing Staff:

Thank you all for providing me with the best nursing care I have ever experienced.  Your professionalism, expertise, compassion and courteousness are exceptional.  I am so very proud of you for the Henry Low Heart Center.

My three-week stay could not be more pleasant.  Wei and I would like to express our most sincere gratitude to all of you. 

With appreciation,

Henry Low


The Seymour Street Journal (SSJ) has been developed to communicate key messages pertinent to our hospital’s physicians. It will keep you informed and up-to-date on hospital, network, and health care news in a concise, convenient format. The SSJ will be sent to your preferred e-mail address every other Sunday. Back issues can be viewed here. For any questions or suggestions, please contact Dr. Jeffry Nestler, Medical Staff President, at (860) 836-7313.