December 3, 2012

Celebrating Greater Hartford's 2012 Health Care Heroes

Click HERE to view a digital edition of the 2012 Health Care Heroes special section

This year, we have the pleasure of honoring seven Healthcare Heroes, people who are making a difference in our community every day.

In the pages of this special section, you'll meet a retired business executive who has found joy in helping others through the emotional trauma that often accompanies a visit to the hospital. And you'll meet a pair of doctors — one of whom is changing the way we think about joint-replacement surgery and the other who is on a quest to stamp out the infections that often come from a hospital stay. We'll also meet a nun who is helping train the next generation of nurses by putting them face-to-face with the neediest patients.

And our judges — Maureen Smith, of the state Office of Patient Advocacy, and Debbie Poerio of Integrated Health Services — showed a great eye for spotting those who help children.
We profile a Hartford doctor who is battling lead poisoning on a number of levels, from lobbying to providing interim safe homes, that go above and beyond medicine.

We meet a New Haven woman whose job — and passion — is to educate children on the art and science of staying well.

And we'll meet the queen of the bike helmet, a woman who as a hospital safety coordinator is changing the way New Haven drives, rides and walks.

Collectively, they are an impressive class of Healthcare Heroes. We take great pleasure in honoring them Dec. 5 at a luncheon at the downtown Connecticut Convention Center. Join us. Contact Brian Baum ( for tickets.

Our heroes were nominated by those who know their work the best — co-workers, clients, even parents — and chosen by independent judges, based on an established criteria. They share a common passion for the services they provide and for the life-changing impacts they have on the lives of others.

And they do all this with a genuine sense of humility.

The Hartford Business Journal has reported on a number of trends in medicine this year — from electronic medical records to health care reform to continued hospital consolidation. Today's edition reports on the problems posed by the graying of the state's medical community.

Whatever 2013 has in store for health care, we'll be bringing you the latest news in print, online and in person.

And it's not too early to start thinking about who you'd like to nominate for next year's class of Healthcare Heroes.

— Norm Bell, Editor

Meet this year's winners:

Pina Violano
Injury Prevention Coordinator, Yale New Haven Hospital

Jack Ross
Director of Infectious Disease Program, Hartford Hospital

Jean Zdanys
Nurse Practitioner — School Base Clinic, City of New Haven

Beth Fischer
Director of Community Outreach, University of Saint Joseph

Harland Graime
Volunteer, Bristol Hospital and Health Care Group Inc.

Lisa Menillo, M.D.
Director, Hartford Regional Lead Treatment Center and Healthy Homes Program
St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Steven Schutzer M.D.
Director of the Connecticut Joint Replacement Institute
St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center

About the judges:

Debbie Poerio
Debbie Poerio is president and CEO of Integrated Health Services in East Hartford.
Her focus is on providing access to adequate health care for children.
She began her career as a nurse practitioner and later was selected by the East Hartford School System and Manchester Memorial Hospital to run the first school-based health center at East Hartford Middle School.
That grew into Integrated Health Services, a nonprofit that handles more than 7,500 student/patient visits annually.
Most recently, she was appointed to the Commission on Children and presented at the National Assembly of School Based Health Centers in New Mexico in June on "Legislative Advocacy and Lobbying."

Maureen Smith
Maureen Smith is director of consumer relations with the state Office of the Healthcare Advocate. In that role, she is responsible for educating consumers regarding managed care decisions and serving as an advocate during conflicts with managed care organizations. Her unique background bridges both clinical and managerial experience with medical management expertise.
She has been director of staff development and quality improvement at Mediplex of Newington and spent eight years with Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, serving as manager of the utilization management, government programs, and central administration departments.
She also co-chairs the Coordination of Care Committee for The Behavioral Health Partnership and co-chairs the Survivorship Committee for the Cancercare Consortium.

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