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    April 22, 2002

Anatomic Pathology's 'Right-Hand Man'
Named First Husky Hero
By Pat Keefe

Sometimes nice guys finish first.

Hector L. Marrero of anatomic pathology was recently selected by the UConnCares Council as its first "Husky Hero." The designation is the Health Center's top service award.

Marrero received the award at the John Dempsey Hospital department heads' meeting April 9.

The UConnCares Council is a group created two years ago to address issues of customer service in a patient care setting. Soon after its creation however, the council's responsibilities were expanded from the clinical environment to the entire Health Center, and now include initiatives such as employee morale, employee recognition, and training.

"Presenting that award was living out a dream," said Ann Smith, co-chair of UConn Cares. "We've dreamed about that award for two years now. And to have it go to a person the whole community knows, is even better. People are saying 'Of course it's Hector. Who else could it have been?'"

Marrero came to Connecticut from New York City in 1978 after finishing high school. He was eager for work and found a job at St. Francis Hospital, where he started in transportation and later, with some training, became a medical assistant.

One day he read in the paper that two employees had been fired from the state medical examiner's office for looting corpses, and he came to the Health Center to apply. Once there he learned it wasn't the medical examiner's office, but the department of anatomic pathology had a job opening doing almost the same things. He applied for the post and beat out 13 other candidates.

He's been there for the past 19 years.

His work has evolved from lab assistant to the department's right-hand man and troubleshooter. Always learning and asking questions, the high school graduate now often finds himself instructing physician-assistants and medical students, as well as doctoral candidates, in cytological, histological, or pathology lab procedures.

"This place has been my education. I've observed and learned a lot," he said. "The Health Center has given me a good life and I can support my family in a decent way. I try to give 150 percent, because if you want something in life, you need to go out and work for it. You can't wait for someone to give you something."

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