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Health Center Today, November 2, 2010

Expo 2010 Celebrates and Recognizes You

By Chris Kaminski

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Sounds of ’60s music, spirited competition and an atmosphere of celebration greeted attendees at the UConn Health Center’s recent Expo 2010. The theme of this year’s day-long festival was designed in the spirit of recognizing and celebrating the “You” in UConn Health Center.

Events, displays and activities were held throughout the day. Employees celebrating a service milestone in 2010 as well as retirees were recognized with commemorative pins and mementos. “I have really grown up here at the UConn Health Center, starting fresh out of nursing school in 1975 and am grateful for the many and varied opportunities and positions I’ve held,” says Carlene Bartolotta, celebrating 35 years of service. “I enjoy working with many very intelligent, warm and compassionate people; and an organization is only as good as the people who work there.” The event recognized 837 Health Center employees who were celebrating five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service.

In furthering the spirit of recognition, the recipient of the Dr. Peter J. Deckers Employee Appreciation Award was announced. The award recognizes one outstanding employee who consistently demonstrates passion and commitment, going above and beyond to help meet the goals of the organization. “To be recognized with this award is truly an honor, but it is also reflective of the support I have received from senior leadership, my staff and the many individuals and practitioners throughout the hospital, who have worked hard to enhance the quality of care provided to our patients in the safest environment possible. I am very proud to work in an organization with such dedicated and hard working individuals,” says Caryl Ryan, 2010 Deckers Employee Appreciation Award recipient and nurse manager, Medicine 3 and Medicine 4, John Dempsey Hospital. Ryan was selected from a pool of over 90 PAWS award recipients who were identified by their peers and managers for their contributions to the Health Center.

Throughout the day, Health Center staff and departments challenged each other, answered trivia questions and joined “thumbs” to create a unique work of art. At the Ultimate Food Throwdown, four teams rolled up their sleeves and put their culinary skills to the test in the Five-ingredient Challenge. Each team was provided with a basket containing eight secret ingredients and had twenty minutes to brainstorm and prepare a cold dish using at least five of the eight ingredients. “Because my team participated and won the event last year, we were familiar with the challenge and confident that we could defend our title,” says Jason Wright, captain of team R&J Productions. Although Wright’s team had some intense and tough competition in the championship round from team TRIPPsters, R&J Productions prevailed and was declared the winner of the 2010 Ultimate Food Throwdown.

Attendees feeling nostalgic were treated to a journey from the past to the future at the “Celebrate 49” display - the number of years since the foundation of the UConn Health Center. The display included a timeline of Health Center milestones as well as photographs and memorabilia collected through the years.

Adding to the nostalgia, the Onyiuke Dining Room was transformed into a ’60s-style ice cream parlor complete with a hefty supply of ice cream, classic ’60s music and retro décor including 45-rpm records. For those too young to remember, there were many individuals available to explain that 45’s were single songs on a 7-inch vinyl disk. “It was fun to see everyone’s reaction. People really loved this event. The music made everyone want to dance and the ice cream was delicious,” says Pam Miles.

The richness of the Health Center’s cultural and diverse community was captured in the Global Community Exhibit. Expo attendees were invited to “leave their mark on the Health Center” by applying their thumb print to a photograph of the building. “Hundreds of people stopped by and thought it was a great idea,” says Andrew Warren, Global Community lead volunteer. “Many individuals applied their thumbprint to the area of the building they work in helping to create a lasting piece of artwork.” The artwork will be hung and displayed in the very near future.

Other activities included a talent show, a ’50s-themed ice cream social, a cake decorating contest, and displays by Know Better Place, the Clean Air team, Volunteer Services, the Power of Giving Display hosted by the UConn Foundation, the Helping Hands Display, the Health Center Auxiliary, and the Nursing Department. “Everywhere you looked, there was a piece of the Health Center represented. It was wonderful to see so many individuals take time from their busy day to attend the event. Even more rewarding was the sense of camaraderie and pride that was felt throughout the day,” says Sandy Kressner, chairperson of the event.

Expo 2010 was hosted by Human Resources through Know Better Place. Both are committed to celebrating and recognizing all the members of the organization throughout the Medical, Dental, and Graduate Schools, Correctional Managed Health Care, John Dempsey Hospital, University Medical Group, and Central Administrative Services.