Health Center Auxiliary Names Patient/Family Education Center

The Education Center will be one of the most important features in the UConn Health Outpatient Pavilion opening in early 2015.


An architect’s rendering of the UConn Health Center Auxiliary Patient and Family Education Center in the new UConn Health Outpatient Pavilion.

For more than four decades, the UConn Health Center Auxiliary has been a partner in building the UConn Health Center into a strong flagship academic medical center by creating patient support programs, funding scholarships, volunteering and more. Now the Auxiliary is stepping forward to support the Health Center’s expansion and renovation with a $400,000 pledge to name the UConn Health Center Auxiliary Patient and Family Education Center in the new UConn Health Outpatient Pavilion.

“The Auxiliary wants to continue in the fashion we have been since 1969. We provide money to enhance programs and help shape the UConn Health Center’s future for the people of Connecticut,” says Irene Engel, president of the Auxiliary.

The Auxiliary counts among its ranks dozens of current and retired employees and community members who have been members since the 1960s. Engel herself is a founding member of the Auxiliary who joined the UConn Health Center as a nurse just nine months after the first medical and dental classes were admitted.

The 306,800-square-foot Outpatient Pavilion is expected to open in early 2015. It will house many key departments, such as the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, along with UConn’s premier Center on Aging, surgery, internal medicine and general medicine. Administrators and faculty worked closely with the architects to develop a patient-centered design that will enhance the patient experience. One of the most important features will be the UConn Health Center Auxiliary Patient and Family Education Center.

In planning a facility to serve the needs of patients today and well into the future, UConn recognized the critical role self-learning plays in patients’ and caregivers’ health and well-being. Computers with access to the Internet will enable patients to research their diagnoses and learn ways to improve their health while the information from their doctors and nurses is fresh in their minds.

“The UConn Health Center is honored to have the UConn Health Center Auxiliary’s name grace this important center,” says Dr. Frank M. Torti, executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “The Auxiliary tirelessly supports our mission. We are tremendously grateful for this generous pledge, as well as the decades of outstanding support and volunteerism the Auxiliary has contributed.”

The UConn Health Center Auxiliary Patient and Family Education Center will have a split presence on floors 2 (1,446 square feet) and 3 (1,421 square feet) of the Outpatient Pavilion. A wall of windows will bring in warm natural light and beautiful views. The spaces will feature a variety of furniture—lounge chairs, sofas, tables and chairs—to create an environment that is comfortable and at the same time effective for learning.

“From the very beginning, our support has been focused on education. We provided money for some of the first pamphlets for patient education, started scholarship programs and endowed a chair at the medical school. It seemed appropriate to leave a lasting memorial in our name for patient education,” says Engel.

TIAA-CREF is providing financing for the $203 million Outpatient Pavilion through a public-private partnership with UConn through Bioscience Connecticut, the state initiative to revitalize the UConn Health Center and grow Connecticut’s bioscience sector. Philanthropic support is an essential part of Bioscience Connecticut. Contact Dina Plapler,, to learn more about giving opportunities.

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