UConn Health Celebrates Opening of The Brain and Spine Institute

Comprehensive spine care, cranial neurosurgery, neurology, and imaging all at 5 Munson Road

Group photo of 10 at a ribbon cutting

Anne Horbatuck cuts the ribbon at the grand opening celebration of The Brain and Spine Institute at UConn Health, with (from left) Dr. John Greenfield, Dr. Hilary Onyiuke, Dr. Isaac Moss, State Rep. Mike Demicco, Dr. Bruce Liang, Dr. Ketan Bulsara, State Rep. Francis Cooley, Dr. Leo Wolansky, and State Sen. Matt Lesser. (May 29, 2024, Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

With neurology’s arrival in January, followed by cranial neurosurgery, comprehensive spine care, and radiology in April, all elements of The Brain and Spine Institute at UConn Health are now in place at its dedicated location just off the main campus in Farmington.

Outdoor portrait five men
From left: Representing the specialties of The Brain and Spine Institute at UConn Health are Dr. John Greenfield, neurology chair, Dr. Ketan Bulsara, neurosurgery chief, Dr. Hilary Onyiuke, Comprehensive Spine Center co-director and founder, Dr. Isaac Moss, orthopedic surgery chair, and Dr. Leo Wolansky, radiology chair. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

Leaders and lawmakers celebrated the opening of the new building at 5 Munson Road, which also is home to the new free-standing, nonhospital outpatient imaging facility known as UConn Health Imaging.

“The Brain and Spine Institute exemplifies the mission of UConn Health, providing exceptional quality and integrated patient care, a positive patient experience, and a great teaching environment that sparks creativity, innovation, and research, with the bonus of being all under this one phenomenal roof,” says Anne Horbatuck, chief operating officer of the UConn Medical Group and vice president for ambulatory operations. “We look forward to growing our team and providing high-quality services for the health and well-being of the Farmington Valley communities and all of the patients across Connecticut’s 169 towns that we serve.”

The concept of the Institute’s multispecialty collaboration took shape in 2021, though in less consolidated physical space.

Dr. Liang speaking at podium
Dr. Bruce Liang, in one of his final acts as interim CEO, speaks at the grand opening ceremony for The Brain and Spine Institute at UConn Health, May 29, 2024. (Tina Encarncion/UConn Health photo)

“The Institute is home to our world-class neurologists, neurosurgeons, spine experts, as well as state-of-the-art precision imaging equipment,” says Dr. Bruce Liang, medical dean and UConn Health’s interim CEO. “It is all about clinical care, patient satisfaction, and access.”

While most of the outpatient neurology services, which had been in the Outpatient Pavilion on UConn Health’s lower campus, aren’t new, the location — along with the concerted effort to coordinate care in a single location — is.

“Wonderful things are happening, and wonderful things will continue to happen, right here in this building,” says state Rep. Mike Demicco, whose district includes Farmington. “And the beneficiaries are my hometown of Farmington, as well as the whole state of Connecticut.”

State Rep. Francis Cooley, whose district includes Farmington, agrees.

“This is a great day for Farmington, it’s a great day for the greater Hartford area, it’s a great day for Connecticut, and I think it’s a great day for the United States, because this is a premiere institution that does a great job,” Cooley says.

Four men at a demonstration of virtual reality surgical technology
State Rep. Mike Demicco tests the augmented reality technology UConn Health’s spine surgeons use, under the guidance of (from left) Dr. Isaac Moss, Dr. Scott Mallozzi, and Brendan Butcher from the vendor Augmedics. (Photo by Chris DeFrancesco)

Guests at Wednesday evening’s grand opening ceremony went on guided tours of the two-story building, which includes teaching spaces, academic offices, and nearly 50 exam rooms.

“Increasingly, it is difficult for patients to get access to doctors, particularly to medical specialists,” says state Sen. Matt Lesser. “So where do they go? Increasingly, the place where they go for world-class care is right here, to UConn Health, and that’s why UConn Health is a really vital part of our health care system.”

Specialties include spine, multiple sclerosis, movement disorders, epilepsy, headache, stroke, and normal pressure hydrocephalus. Patients who have comprehensive spine surgery, cranial neurosurgery, and comprehensive spine surgery also are seeing their providers at the new location.

“We’ve had any number of visits with UConn Health to dig deep into the ongoing and wide-ranging benefits of having such a world-class public hospital and teaching institution in our state,” says state Rep. Kate Farrar, ’01 (CLAS). “And the opening of this Institute is just one other example of that.”

When The Brain and Spine Institute idea was conceived, Dr. Andrew Agwunobi was UConn Health’s CEO and executive vice president for health affairs. Hours before the grand opening ceremony, UConn announced he is returning in that role May 31.

“I’m so proud of the work of everyone involved in this amazing and innovative Institute,” Agwunobi says. “This opening is a testament to what imagination, collaboration, and partnership can create. It represents the best of UConn Health, and the kind of market-changing progress the people of Connecticut can and should expect out of its flagship academic medical center.”