UConn School of Medicine

Hand, Wrist, and Elbow Team Brings Innovation

3 doctors stand together, Dr. Craig Rodner (left), Dr. Joel Ferreira (center), and  Dr. Anthony Parrino (right) Farmington, Southington

Dr. Anthony Parrino (left) – Farmington, Southington
Dr. Craig Rodner (center) – Avon, Farmington
Dr. Joel Ferreira (right) – Farmington, Storrs Center

Photo: Janine Gelineau


Hands, wrists, and elbows are complex and fragile. No matter our age or profession, we are prone to upper extremity injuries throughout our lifetime, along with diseases such as arthritis and tendonitis as we age.

Dr. Craig Rodner and new recruits Dr. Joel Ferreira and Dr. Anthony Parrino, who are both former UConn orthopaedic surgery residents, form the UConn Musculoskeletal Institute’s team, offering patients comprehensive surgical and non-surgical care in this area. All three specialists have completed advanced training during prestigious fellowships in hand, wrist, and elbow orthopedic surgery.

The Hand, Wrist, and Elbow Program at UConn Health offers advanced care for both children and adults for all bone and soft-tissue conditions of the upper extremity. The team cares for people from all walks of life who have pain from repetitive activity, acute trauma, or sports-related injury — from weekend warriors to the elite athletes of the UConn Huskies sports teams. Comprehensive care approaches include patient activity modification, physical therapy, bracing, steroid injections, and, if necessary, surgery.

Innovative surgical interventions are offered for arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fractures, tendon and nerve damage, sports injuries, Dupuytren’s contractures, hand deformities, and more. These interventions include enhanced minimally invasive, arthroscopic, and microscopic surgical techniques leading to faster, less painful recovery.

The expansion of the team this past year to include Ferreira and Parrino brought specialized training in all aspects of elbow surgery, daily access to the hand surgeon experts, as well as expanded patient access to cutting-edge “wide-awake” painless hand surgery for certain conditions. Using a localized numbing medication in “wide-awake” procedures allows patients, if they so choose, to drive to and from the procedure, avoid the use of sedation, and recover more rapidly.

“Our goal at the UConn Musculoskeletal Institute is to get our patients back to functioning where they were before injury or disease affected them,” says Parrino. Ferreira adds: “We offer the absolute highest-quality, personalized care that there is to each and every patient to find the best surgical or non-surgical solution for an individual problem.”

While the number one focus of the hand, wrist, and elbow team is providing the highest possible level of compassionate care to each patient, Rodner, Ferreira, and Parrino are also dedicated to upper extremity research and education and are actively involved in teaching the students at the UConn School of Medicine and the residents of the UConn orthopedic surgery program about all facets of upper extremity care.

UConn Writes New Prescription for Medical Education

academic entrance, UConn Health Farmington CT
Inside UConn Health Farmington CT, rotunda

The exterior (Top) and interior (Bottom) of the new Academic Rotunda at UConn Health. Photo: Janine Gelineau


The class of 2020 is not only the largest in UConn School of Medicine history, it’s also the first to experience a newly launched, innovative curriculum to better prepare doctors for the rapidly changing health care landscape.

The new curriculum, known as MDelta — Making a Difference in Education, Learning, and Teaching Across the curriculum — is based on the principles of lifelong learning, patient-centered care, and collaborative teamwork.

A cutting-edge holistic assessment program provides time for students to evaluate their competencies as they reach milestones in their development.

“Medicine and the health care landscape is changing rapidly, with the explosion of clinical information and technology, the development of complex health care systems, a move from inpatient to outpatient care settings, and the rise of team science,” says Dr. Bruce T. Liang, dean of the UConn School of Medicine. “Our new curriculum is a platform to make our students the best possible future doctors and prepare them to be health care leaders,” he says.

Rather than traditional classroom lectures, the new curriculum relies heavily on team-based learning, in addition to anatomy dissection, virtual laboratory experiences (including the use of four Anatomage virtual anatomy tables), clinical practice, and simulation.

A novel course called VITALS — Vertically Integrated Teams Aligned in Learning and Scholarship — brings together teams of students from across all years of the medical school and professional schools, such as the UConn School of Dental Medicine, to learn together about health care policy, population health, ethics, and current events affecting local and global communities.

At the start of medical school, each student is assigned to a primary care physician in an outpatient practice at UConn Health or in the surrounding community across the state to follow the health of patients over three years. In addition, teams are assigned to a “Clinical Home” in one of UConn’s affiliate teaching hospitals to learn how to work in a health care system caring for a diverse population. These opportunities prepare students for more advanced clinical experiences — both inpatient and outpatient — later in medical school.

Thanks to the American Medical Association selecting UConn as a member of its Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium, students will also be trained in the electronic medical record.

“Early clinical and health system exposure is an integral part of the new curriculum, along with inter-professional activities,” says Dr. Suzanne Rose, senior associate dean for education at UConn’s medical school. “A cutting-edge holistic assessment program provides time for students to evaluate their competencies as they reach milestones in their development.”

And because of investments from UConn Health and the state of Connecticut through the Bioscience Connecticut initiative, the 100 medical and 49 dental students are also the first to learn in a new 17,000-square-foot facility featuring a renovated academic entrance and a brand-new, high-tech rotunda.

Dr. Naomi Rothfield: A Half-Century of Progress at UConn Health

Dr. Naomi Rothfield (front, center in both photos) is pictured with a group of rheumatology fellows in 1976, at left, and among the UConn Health doctors named to Connecticut Magazine's 2012 Top Docs list,  at right.

Dr. Naomi Rothfield (front, center in both photos) is pictured with a group of rheumatology fellows in 1976, at left, and among the UConn Health doctors named to Connecticut Magazine’s 2012 Top Docs list, at right.


When Dr. Naomi Rothfield arrived at the new University of Connecticut School of Medicine in summer 1968 as a young rheumatologist, UConn Health’s Farmington campus did not yet exist. The autoimmune diseases she studied and treated, like lupus and scleroderma, were often fatal within two years of diagnosis. She had gone through medical school at New York University in a class with only six women and 125 men.

In the nearly 50 years since Rothfield was hired as a founding faculty member of the medical school, much has changed. UConn Health’s physical presence includes several state-of-the-art new buildings on the 106-acre Farmington site, as well as clinics throughout the state. Lupus and scleroderma are no longer death sentences, but treatable illnesses (Rothfield still sees a lupus patient who first came to her in 1966). And today, women make up just about half of medical school students nationwide.

Dr. Naomi Rothfield built from the ground up UConn’s Division of Rheumatic Diseases as its chief from 1973 to 1999, training dozens of leading rheumatologists worldwide.

But it wasn’t just the changes around her that made her career monumental — it was the changes Rothfield, 87, effected herself before her retirement this March.

“Dr. Rothfield is a legend in the field of medicine,” says Dr. Augustus D. Mazzocca, chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and director of the Musculoskeletal Institute at UConn Health. “She is a pioneer who always put patients and education before all else, an example for all people involved in health care.”

Despite numerous honors and achievements, the ever-modest Rothfield doesn’t see it that way. But just let her CV speak for her: She built from the ground up UConn’s Division of Rheumatic Diseases as its chief from 1973 to 1999, training dozens of leading rheumatologists worldwide (she does admit that’s her proudest accomplishment). She brought in millions in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Institutes of Health to conduct trailblazing research in her field, deepening the understanding of rheumatic diseases through over 150 published papers and 40 book chapters. And in the 1970s, she fought for equal pay for women at the University.

Her love for teaching and interacting with her longtime patients kept her going for so many years, she says. But now it’s time to visit her four children and six grandchildren, exercise, and travel with her husband, Dr. Lawrence Rothfield.

“I stayed at UConn because I was happy here,” Rothfield says. “It’s time to retire and enjoy myself. I have a few other things I want to do.”


Dr. Rothfield reflects on her career.