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  April 17, 2000

Video Communications Support
Health Center's Educational Mission

Commercial television 40 years ago may have been a "vast wasteland" as one observer put it, but at the UConn Health Center, television - in the guise of the Video Communications Department - actually contributes to the educational mission.

The six-member department designs and produces videotapes; designs and produces interactive multimedia programs, including CD Roms, LAN-based (Local Area Network) programs and web-based programs; provides teleconferencing and furnishes auditorium audiovisual support.

"There's something new every day," says William Hengstenberg, director of the Video Communications Department.

"One day we'll do a teleconference, one day we'll tape a public service message by the governor, and another day, we'll pack our gear and go to another state agency to make a training tape," he says. "The variety keeps things interesting."

At the Health Center, the Video Communications Department plays many varied roles.

Teleconferencing, for example, allows the Health Center to keep in touch with resident physicians under the administration of the School of Medicine but assigned to hospitals elsewhere.

Using new technology, and in some cases adapting technology to suit its needs, the department has established sites in those hospitals where residents can make presentations, attend medical rounds and participate in Health Center activities through live two-way audio and video conferencing.

The same technology - expanded to include white board graphics using the Internet and office hours via e-mail - was helpful in establishing master's in public health distance learning initiatives at the Stamford campus and Avery Point.

Similarly, on-line training programs eliminate the need for scheduled safety classes which take employees off the job.

On-line training or safety programs allow participants to take the instruction as and when they wish. The programs can count attendance and, through quizzes and self-monitoring, measure effectiveness.

The Health Center uses Video Communications Department training programs already for annual federal agency-required bloodborne pathogen training. Other subjects under discussion or under design include training programs to prevent needle-sticks and nursing/nursing aide injuries.

The department is funded on a cost-recovery basis. New equipment, such as cameras and computer-based video editing suites that are costly but vital to successfully running a high-tech operation, are purchased with funds the department generates.

"Two-thirds of the work we do is Health Center-related," Hengstenberg says, "but two-thirds of the income we receive is generated externally."

The department has made video and training programs and public service announcements for various state agencies.

Last summer, the department was awarded second place by the International Television Video Association for a program on Down Syndrome, that was made for the Connecticut Down Syndrome Congress and featured physician Robert Greenstein of Pediatric Genetics.

Health Center Video Communications can be reached at (860) 679-2119 or via e-mail: