Hospital of Central Connecticut surgeon receives Petit award

January 08, 2014 By Kimberly Gensicki, 860-224-5900 X6507

New Britain - Having gone on five medical mission trips to Africa and Asia since 2007, Hospital of Central Connecticut general surgeon Sharon Weintraub, M.D., finds the need for medical care great and the work “fascinating” despite cultural challenges and limited medical resources.

“There’s such a need for these services,” says Weintraub. “I take much more from these experiences than I think I give back.”

For her commitment to community service, Weintraub, director of Surgical Critical Care, was recognized with The Hospital of Central Connecticut William A. Petit, Jr., M.D., Physician Service Award. The annual award is given to a physician member of the hospital’s medical staff to recognize extraordinary commitment and service to the hospital, the community, the medical staff or patients.

Petit presented the award to Weintraub at a Dec. 5 Quarterly Medical Staff meeting at the hospital’s New Britain General campus. Her name is now on a plaque in the campus lobby. Petit, who is very active in the community, previously served as medical director of the Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at the hospital and director of the section of endocrinology, metabolism and diabetes. The Petit Family Foundation which he created to honor the memories of his wife, Jennifer Lynn Hawke-Petit, and their daughters, Hayley Elizabeth Petit and Michaela Rose Petit, funds programs focused on education, chronic illness and those that support people affected by violence. Nominees for the Physician Service Award embody Petit’s spirit of altruism, commitment and excellence.

Through Doctors Without Borders, Weintraub has been to Liberia, West Africa and Sri Lanka. She’s also traveled to Haiti, Dominican Republic, Panama, Colombia, Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam through Project Hope which much of the work done on medical units aboard U.S. Navy ships. Her first trip was for three months in 2007 and her latest trip in 2012, also for three months, was completed just before she started working at HOCC.

Among her most notable observations during travels was the strong cultural influence toward receipt of medical care. Shortly after performing an emergency, life-saving tracheotomy on a young female from Liberia in 2007 Weintraub learned from the patient that she would not be welcomed back to her village because of the visible tracheostomy tube serving as her new airway. Instead of returning to the village, the patient stayed in a subdivision of the medical campus always wearing a scarf over the site until, with Weintraub’s medical care, the tube could be safely removed.

Also influencing Weintraub’s care was access to appropriate follow-up care, managing “the disease process in an environment where there are not a lot of resources.”

Weintraub especially enjoyed her last trip to Southeast Asia where she performed surgery on a U.S. Navy ship and in area communities, accompanied by translators who also helped with cultural adjustments. She performed many operations for thyroid and breast conditions.

“It’s a gift in some ways to be able to do work where you are challenged by conditions you may never encounter at home,” says Weintraub, who plans to go soon on yet another medical mission trip.