One of the UConn Health Center’s less-talked-about missions is the care and treatment of the state’s inmate population.
Overseeing the division known as Correctional Managed Health Care and its $85 million budget is no small task, but it’s been Gail Johnson’s job for the last six years.
Monday Johnson, CMHC’s director of administrative services, was recognized for excelling in this role. She was named winner of the UConn Health Center’s fifth Dr. Peter J. Deckers Employee Appreciation Award.
Johnson was nominated by Dr. Robert Trestman, CMHC’s executive director, who credits her with promoting improved efficiencies and outcomes, in part by streamlining the division’s clinical, pharmacy and information technology operations, in the process saving the state more than $30 million.
“Gail has been phenomenal in her consistency, her persistence, and her vision in bringing together all the different aspects of what she does,” Trestman says. “From managing, from a human resources perspective, to labor relations, to giving guidance to I.T., to finance, to helping to support pharmacy, and bringing all of those domains together under her umbrella effectively and efficiently, while really helping to grow the people who report to her, she has just been phenomenal. It was such an easy choice.”
In presenting Johnson with the award, Dr. Frank Torti, executive vice president for health affairs and medical school dean, said, “It’s just wonderful to know that the idea of caring, and of care—regardless of the state of the patient—is something that drives Gail’s motivation.”
Johnson says while she knew she was nominated, it was a shock when Torti announced her as the winner.
“I was very surprised and honored,” Johnson says. “I think the fact that my team, the great group of colleagues that I work with, felt it worthwhile and important to recognize my contributions is the real honor and reward.”
At the ceremony to present the award in his name, Dr. Peter Deckers, retired executive vice president for health affairs and Dean Emeritus of the UConn School of Medicine, said the recipient not only must possess knowledge and skill, but the courage to counsel others and the ability to develop strong working relationships.
“The person needs to be someone who looks upon the people he or she works with as people that he or she genuinely loves and cares about, both personally and professionally, and would do anything to make their life personally and professionally better,” Deckers told the standing-room-only crowd in the Onyiuke Dining Room. “And as that develops, I think the person involved also begins to feel the same thing reciprocated.”
Employees were nominated by senior leaders based on three primary criteria:
- Commitment and passion to the mission of the Health Center
- Leadership skills
- Exemplary professional skills and personal attributes
Four other nominees joined Johnson as finalists for this year’s award:
- Clinical research associate Quratulain “Annie” Ali
- UConn School of Dental Medicine administrative program coordinator Sandra Krawczynski
- Assistant nurse manager LuAnn Satherlie
- Patient ambassador Gail Sheehan
The Deckers award comes with a $1,000 prize from the UConn Foundation and inscription of the winner’s name on a perpetual plaque.