Putting snow, survey and go-live in the rear-view mirror

Richard D'Aquila thanked a group of nurses who stopped by at the evening reception on York Street. The cake and thank you bag of goodies were big hits with all employees. Shown (l-r) are: Laetitia Nakaar, RN, Gyn/Oncology Unit; Kaitlin McFadden, RN, Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) (6-1); D'Aquila; Charlene Fleming, RN, Surgical Oncology; Calin Calabrese, RN, SICU (7-1); Lauren Maselli, SICU (6-1); and Hong Duyen Phan, RN, SICU (6-1).
Richard D'Aquila thanked a group of nurses who stopped by at the evening reception on York Street. The cake and thank you bag of goodies were big hits with all employees. Shown (l-r) are: Laetitia Nakaar, RN, Gyn/Oncology Unit; Kaitlin McFadden, RN, Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) (6-1); D'Aquila; Charlene Fleming, RN, Surgical Oncology; Calin Calabrese, RN, SICU (7-1); Lauren Maselli, SICU (6-1); and Hong Duyen Phan, RN, SICU (6-1).

Employees were delighted to receive an invitation to celebrate spring after a winter of hard work and perseverance as they coped with a record-setting blizzard, managed a successful Joint Commission survey, and delivered a winning Epic go-live on the York Street Campus.

"This celebration not only marked these accomplishments — it acknowledges the time and effort employees dedicated to preparing for the Joint Commission and Epic implementation," said Richard D'Aquila, president and COO. "And remember — the Saint Raphael Campus is now in the thick of preparing for their go-live on June 1. We wanted to celebrate spring and recognize our employees for their dedication this winter, especially during periods of enormous stress."

On March 27, employees streamed through the Max Taffel Rooms on the York Street Campus and the lower level of the cafeteria on the Saint Raphael Campus where senior leaders thanked each person during the afternoon and from 10:30 p.m.-midnight.

By the end of the evening reception on the Saint Raphael Campus, Michael Holmes, the newly hired senior vice president of operations and the campus's chief integration officer, had greeted hundreds of employees. Here he is shown with (l-r): Bertrand Lamothe, technician, Environmental Services; Jennifer Simeoli, RN, Medicine Unit (Celentano 4); Holmes; Emily Lotko, RN, Medicine Unit (Celentano 4); and Ermelindo Cardona, representative, Emergency Department Guest Relations.


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Within hours of the doors opening to the receptions, thousands of employees had received a festive bag containing chocolates, biscotti, tea, coffee and hot chocolate topped with a big blue ribbon and a thank you from at least one senior manager. In all, almost 7,000 thank you kits were distributed in less than 12 hours on both campuses.

"I think it's really important that the hospital lets us know that they recognize our work," said Shelly Garcia, a communications associate in Pre-Admission Testing on York Street, who came in on a Saturday to convert hundreds of patient appointments to Epic before go-live. "The reception was great and I loved the cake they gave out, too! It's always a good feeling to know you're appreciated."

For days, Ellen O'Connor, RN, supervisor, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic, had heard weather reports of a major snow storm that would hit the New Haven area — and she took the forecasts seriously. On the Friday that the storm hit, she left work with the center's appointment book so she could call patients from home and re-schedule their appointments.

"I think it was great that the hospital put so much effort into recognizing us for our efforts," said O'Connor, who noted that she was very impressed with the employees who kept the hospital running through the weekend. "Senior managers were lined up to thank us and the gift was great — who doesn't like chocolate?"

Troy Walker, an OR assistant, who is also a 25-year member of the Connecticut National Guard, was about to leave the hospital on the Friday evening of the storm and thought the better of it. He decided to spend the night on the Saint Raphael Campus and help where he was needed. The next morning, Walker was able to leave and join his unit in Niantic where he served on storm patrol until Sunday night.

"This event was really touching because we haven't seen this kind of employee recognition in years due to financial problems," said Walker of the evening reception on SRC. "It was a great boost to the morale of employees and it just makes you want to work harder."

"Our employees are truly exceptional," said D'Aquila. "It is a pleasure to be able to say ‘thank you' to them for all that they contribute to patients, each other and this remarkable hospital."