UConn John Dempsey Hospital

Hybrid OR Expands Surgical Capabilities


This spring, neurosurgery chief Dr. Ketan Bulsara and his team were the first to perform surgery in UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s 1,200-square-foot hybrid operating room.

The team leveraged the new high-tech room and its dual advanced X-ray imaging capabilities to guide a successful minimally invasive neurological procedure.

“There are not many biplane hybrid operating rooms in the United States, and there are only a handful along the East Coast,” says Bulsara. “The biplane imaging provides surgeons multiple views and not only makes patient care safer but also allows surgeons to do things that we could not ordinarily do inside the operating room.”

The hybrid room gives surgeons the ability to perform a range of procedures in one setting, from minimally invasive treatments to the most complex neurosurgery, interventional cardiology, and vascular procedures.

“The hybrid operating room allows surgeons to choose what they feel is the best treatment for that patient,” says Bulsara.

According to Bulsara, the hybrid room enables UConn Health to continue providing world-class care to its patients while shaping the future of surgery and medicine and optimizing the personalized care given to each individual patient.

The hybrid operating room is a new tool for us that allows us to deliver health care in ways we have never been able to before.

UConn Health’s Dr. Stephen Lahey, chief of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, says he couldn’t agree more.

“The hybrid operating room enables us to deliver health care in ways we have never been able to before,” says Lahey. “We now have all the advanced radiological equipment inside a huge operating room.”

All the high-tech equipment in the hybrid OR hangs from the ceiling, including imaging equipment, large plasma screens, and LED boom lights that assist surgeons with brighter and sharper lighting of the surgical field. A high-resolution video system provides real-time video and photo imaging during surgery for direct communication with the Department of Pathology or teleconferencing and live broadcasts of surgery for physician training and medical education.

Neuroimaging Technique Raises Stroke Treatment Standard

Dr. Leo Wolansky

Dr. Leo Wolansky, chair of the UConn Health Department of Radiology, shows the types of images CT perfusion scanning yields to help determine the best course of action in stroke treatment.


UConn John Dempsey Hospital is among only a few hospitals in the state to offer a new neuroimaging technique to patients who’ve suffered the most common type of stroke, potentially quadrupling the narrow window for intervention to 24 hours from the onset of symptoms.

The cutting-edge technique, which involves new software called RAPID, facilitates computed tomography (CT) perfusion imaging in emergency settings by making radiologic interpretation of perfusion data simpler, a particularly crucial feature when treating emergency stroke patients.

This helps physicians determine which patients are good candidates for a highly specialized neurosurgical and interventional radiological procedure called mechanical thrombectomy. The lifesaving procedure is only available at a few hospitals in the state; UConn Health Chief of Neurosurgery Dr. Ketan Bulsara performed UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s first-ever mechanical thrombectomy in November.

“It enables us to easily check how large an area of the brain is deprived of blood flow,” says Dr. Leo Wolansky, chair of the UConn Health Department of Radiology. “We can distinguish between the part of the brain that’s already dead [cerebral infarction] and the part of the brain that is in danger of dying [ischemic] but can be saved.”

In October, UConn Health rolled out the perfusion imaging program a week after processing its first functional MRI case for surgical guidance. The innovations are part of a system-wide initiative by UConn Health leadership to provide cutting-edge technology and recruit top physicians familiar with its use, such as Wolansky, in order to provide the finest care for neurological conditions.

Historically, when a patient has cerebral infarction, the most common type of stroke, the race is on to administer a clot-dissolving medication known as a tissue plasminogen activator (TPA). Mechanical thrombectomy traditionally has also been an option with a very limited timespan. With the introduction of advanced imaging such as RAPID, patients now can be treated safely for up to 24 hours of their stroke if the CT perfusion scan is favorable.

“We can tell if there is brain that can be saved, even beyond the previously accepted window of time for thrombectomy,” Wolansky says. “This creates the possibility of treating many ‘wake-up’ strokes, people who went to sleep well, but woke up eight hours later with a stroke.”

The results of a major study known as the DAWN trial, released in May 2017, showed good outcomes for stroke patients who were treated with thrombectomy up to 24 hours after the event.

UConn Health Offers Largest Emergency Dental Service in CT

patient in dental chair

UConn Health sees an average of 60 dental emergencies in a 24-hour period.


Dental emergencies can strike at any time. That’s why UConn Health has offered around-the-clock coverage for dental emergencies since the early 1970s and recently opened a specialized patient room within the new emergency department at UConn John Dempsey Hospital.

“We have the largest dental emergency service in the state,” says Dr. Steven Lepowsky, senior associate dean for education and patient care at the UConn School of Dental Medicine. “The service exists to address a significant unmet need.”

Even those who receive regular dental care can face emergency situations at any time. On average, UConn Health sees nearly 60 dental emergencies in 24 hours. The most common are toothaches related
to a cavity, root canal, or abscess.

On weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., urgent dental care is provided by students and residents from the UConn School of Dental Medicine who staff UConn Health’s dental clinics under faculty supervision.

The training component makes the emergency dental service a crucial piece of the dental school’s academic mission.

The service exists to address a significant unmet need.

“It helps the students and residents build skills in terms of how to diagnose a problem quickly, identify the source of the problem, and provide care that immediately addresses someone’s needs,” Lepowsky says.
After 10 p.m., patients who present with a dental emergency are assessed by medical staff, who can bring in the dental resident on call, if necessary.

Although the hours are nothing new, the after-hours setting is.

The new room and dental chair “replicate a full dental operatory, so it expanded the scope of what we could offer on an emergency basis after hours,” Lepowsky says. “It’s a much more pleasant environment for the patient.”

It’s not, however, meant to replace primary dental care, according to Lepowsky.

Sometimes, after-hours care involves just relieving pain and sending the patient home, asking them to return in the morning when the dental clinics open for a specific dental treatment.

“You want someone to have an established relationship with a dental provider so there’s someone coordinating all their annual dental health care and maintenance needs,” Lepowsky says.

A New Era

The New Uconn Health Patient Care Tower


During the early morning hours of May 13, 300 UConn Health doctors, nurses, staff, leaders, and volunteers mobilized to begin the carefully planned move of 70 inpatients, one by one, to UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s new patient care tower.

The new tower, which along with the original hospital building comprises the hospital, was designed with the latest, most advanced technology and patient safety, comfort, and privacy at the forefront. The aesthetic is made to be peaceful and healing, with soothing colors, earth-toned wood and tile, noise reduction features, and tons of natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows throughout.

The tower is the biggest project of Bioscience Connecticut, the initiative launched by Gov. Dannel Malloy in 2011 to make Connecticut a leader in bioscience research and create new jobs. In addition to staff jobs at UConn Health, the project created more than 5,000 construction jobs.

“I am extremely impressed,” said patient Dr. Michael P. Kruger, who graduated from UConn School of Medicine’s orthopaedic residency program in the 1980s, after he was moved to the new facility. The private rooms are the biggest perk for any patient, Kruger said.

“Having a facility where you 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, I think, in how you recover and what the outcome’s going to be,” he said.

We are great at what we do, but we are going to do it even better in the new tower.

Not to mention the state-of-the-art technology in the 11-floor, over 381,000-square-foot “hospital of the future.”

The Operating Suite is home to the da Vinci robot and the Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System, the only one of its kind in New England for robotic-guided spine surgery. The suite includes 10 operating rooms, each with LED boom lighting, special rubber floors and air filtration systems for infection control, high-definition Black Diamond Video systems for enhanced surgical vision, live-broadcasting for medical education and physician training, and real-time communication with the Department of Pathology.

A 1,200-square-foot hybrid operating room will open this fall, equipped with advanced imaging capabilities for minimally invasive and complex procedures.

Four high-tech smart robots called TUGS will deliver pharmacy medications to nursing units across the hospital, along with high-speed, wall-based tube systems.

Other safety measures include a centralized monitoring system, allowing patients to be observed remotely 24 hours a day by technicians, in addition to traditional bedside monitoring by their nurses. And those nurses will be able to reach patients even faster if anything happens, thanks to Rauland Responder bedside call systems.

“The technology that we are now able to use for our patients is going to enhance the care that we deliver,” said Anne Sakitis, nurse manager of the orthopaedic surgery floor. “We are great at what we do, but we are going to do it even better in the new tower.”

The tower has six inpatient floors dedicated to intensive care, intermediate care, medicine, oncology, orthopaedic surgery, and general surgery, and 169 private patient rooms, including 28 private rooms in the intensive care unit. Each room honors one of Connecticut’s towns with a scenic nature photograph taken in that town by a local photographer, and features a view of the Farmington Valley, a high-tech bed and monitoring equipment, a private bathroom, and a couch that turns into a bed for visitors. The hospital now has 24/7 visiting hours.

The Emergency Department includes more than 40 patient rooms and five patient care zones, ranging from fast-track care for minor emergencies to advanced trauma care. It has onsite CT scan and X-ray, decontamination and resuscitation rooms, and an emergency dental chair.

The new tower is also home to a dedicated Dialysis Care Center, a Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, a Respiratory Therapy Department, and a physical/occupational therapy and rehabilitation gym. There are more than 80 ceiling lifts located throughout the hospital for safe patient handling.

“This tower represents a new era at UConn Health and for health care in our state. The opening of the new hospital tower is a very special generational milestone,” said UConn John Dempsey Hospital CEO Anne Diamond. “We did it! We dreamed it, we built it, and now we’ve opened it.”


Gallery: Inside the New Tower

A patient and staff are seen inside the Emergency Department waiting area. A children’s play area is inside opaque glass walls.

A UConn Health nurse shows a patient how to adjust her bed in a room on the sixth floor of the UConn Health new tower. It's open and spacious and large windows
Dr. David McFadden, surgeon-in-chief, gives direction in one of 10 new operating rooms. The room is equipped with a Black Diamond video camera, near top left, which allows surgeons to view a close-up video of procedures. Additional screens allow doctors to compare video to radiology scans to enhance precision.

Honor Roll – Spring 2016

UConn John Dempsey Hospital earned an ‘A’ in patient safety for fall 2015 from premier nonprofit hospital safety advocate The Leapfrog Group.


Dr. Robert L. Trestman is a co-recipient of the 2016 Manfred S. Guttmacher Award from the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL) for his outstanding contributions to the literature of forensic psychiatry.


Dr. Pamela Moore was named Best Doctor in the Willimantic Chronicle’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards.


The UConn School of Dental Medicine was named winner of the 2016 William J. Gies Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Academic Dental Institution.


Reinhard C. Laubenbacher, Ph.D., of UConn Health and The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) for Genomic Medicine has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and co-editor of the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology.


Dr. Bruce Strober and Dr. Jane Grant-Kels were honored with Presidential Citations by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on March 3.