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  September 16, 2002

New Health Center Board Meets for First Time
By Pat Keefe

The Health Center's new 17-member Board of Directors, that replaces the five-member Health Affairs Committee, a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees, met for the first time September 9.

The new, larger board was designed to bring new skills and know-how to the oversight of the Health Center, and an array of perspectives that can provide the critical counsel needed for a modern health care facility to be sustained and grow.

[ For more information about the members of the new board, please go to the June 17, 2002 issue of the Advance. ]

It has authority over all aspects of Health Center operations, with the exception of the operating and capital budgets, which will require final approval by the University's Board of Trustees.

The board will have a committee structure, in which members with particular skills will participate on panels in their areas of strength, such as clinical initiatives, finances, or academics and research.

Board Chair Claire Leonardi said the meeting, during which a number of top administrators provided briefings on education, research, clinical initiatives and finances, was a good start.

"It was the type of meeting that really created a subject- and knowledge-base that will help lead the board forward.

"The agenda and discussion identified the major issues, we as a board will be dealing with," she said, "such as the finalization of the Information Technology strategic plan, the finalization of a capital plan based on 21st Century UConn, and dealing more specifically with the medical school reorganization."

The board heard from:

  • Dr. Peter Deckers, executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, who gave an update on the Health Center and the School of Medicine.

  • Dr. Bruce Koeppen, dean for academic affairs and education, who told the board the educational product was sound but evolving to better anticipate the technologies of tomorrow's physicians. He advised the board that the School of Medicine would undergo an accreditation visit very soon and that certification was likely to have some expenses attached.

  • Dr. Richard Berlin, associate dean for research planning and coordination, who reviewed the research strategic plan and pointed out that investment in faculty had reaped a substantial harvest of research grants. Using the faculty of the Center for Vascular Biology as an example, Berlin cited the six faculty members hired for the center, who were responsible for more than $800,000 each in new federal grants. Space constraints could impair that burgeoning productivity, he warned.

  • Dr. Peter Robinson, dean, School of Dental Medicine, who reviewed the recently completed accreditation visit. The school received 16 commendations and no recommendations for improvement. Dr. Robinson noted that the dental school clinics have come to be the most important sources of care for the state's Medicare- and Medicaid-eligible populations. He also reviewed the demographics of this year's class.

  • Bruce Carlson, Health Center chief of staff, who talked abut the strategic plan and the need to obtain operational management for the Signature Programs. Doing so will maintain momentum in the programs, he said, and also provide improved monitoring of results.

  • Dr. Steven Strongwater, associate dean for clinical affairs, director of clinical operations and hospital director, who reported that clinical patient surveys were rebounding from earlier slumps and that proposed expansions of ambulatory surgical suites would free up desperately needed space.

"I thought it was an excellent meeting," said Bruce Chudwick, of Farmington, a member of the new board. "It was obviously an orientation session, but judging from the level and depth of questions the board members asked, it's plain to see what an exciting and important function the board will have for the Health Center."

The next meeting is scheduled for December 9.

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