A team of multiple sclerosis providers and the stroke clinical program coordinator are the co-winners of UConn Health’s second annual Dr. Richard Simon Excellence in Clinical Neurosciences Award.
Nurse Jennifer Sposito was honored for her work in the UConn Health Stroke Center, nominated by Drs. Ketan Bulsara, Gracia Mui, and Sanjay Mittal.
“Her impact to patients, physicians and the institution has helped pave the way for the unprecedented success of the stroke program,” her nominators wrote. “Her feedback regarding hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke treatments celebrates the achievements of an ever growing multidisciplinary team.”
The UConn John Dempsey Hospital has been certified as a “Primary Stroke Center” by the The Joint Commission, the American Heart Association, and the American Stroke Association since 2014, five months after Sposito moved to the stroke program. She joined UConn Health in 2012 as a critical care float nurse, and in 2016 she won a Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing.
“I am very humbled by receiving this award,” Sposito says. “It is a pleasure working with this amazing multidisciplinary team and watching the incredible things happening for our patients.”
The awardees from the UConn Health Multiple Sclerosis Center are medical assistant Josauris Rivera, nurse practitioner Marina Creed, staff nurse Kim Fofana, clinical patient navigator Karen Nelson, and social worker Kristen Vavrek.
“I have worked with and supervised many extraordinarily distinguished and talented neurologists and MS providers and this team leadership and actions during the pandemic for our MS patients are above and beyond,” wrote Dr. Jaime Imitola, director of the UConn Health MS Center, in his nomination.
“The great competence of this team, their dedication and skills and advocacy for hundreds of our patients are examples of great virtues in patient care and team work,” Imitola wrote. “In them we have one of the best teams that UConn Health has to offer in neuroscience. They are great examples of leadership, compassion, commitment to patient care, diligence, and organizational skill for others at UConn and beyond.”
The Simon Award, initiated last year through the Division of Neurosurgery in a multidisciplinary fashion for the neurosciences, recognizes a “clinician, staff member, or student who exemplifies excellence in any area of the neurosciences at UConn Health.” Colleagues and former students made the initial contributions to an endowed fund the UConn Foundation established for this award, and the inaugural winners were Ellen Benson, Georgia Priestley and Shevonne White from the operating room.
Simon is a professor of surgery in the Division of Neurosurgery and the UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s chief of medical staff. He has been on the UConn School of Medicine faculty for four decades.
Dr. Hilary Onyiuke, professor of neurosurgery and founder and co-director of UConn Health’s Comprehensive Spine Program, leads the selection committee, which includes leadership from the Division of Neurosurgery, the Department of Neurology, and the neuroradiology section of the Department of Radiology.
“On behalf of all the members of the selection committee, we want to thank Dr. Onyiuke for being the chairperson of the selection committee,” Bulsara says.