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Dr. Gluck, Nurse Scirpo Honored as Healthcare Heroes by Hartford Business Journal

December 15, 2019

Two Hartford HealthCare professionals were among the honorees at the 2019 Hartford Business Journal Healthcare Hero awards ceremony. Dr. Jason Gluck from Hartford Hospital and Shawnna Scirpo, Director of Nursing for Emergency Services at The Hospital of Central Connecticut, were recognized in early December.

Dr. Jason Gluck doesn’t shy away from problems or challenges – he rises to face them, tapping a fertile and mechanically-inclined imagination, inventing and reinventing solutions, asking multitudes of questions and working toward answers.

In fact, his motto, in his own words, could be, “When you see a problem, you tackle it.”

This can-do attitude and successful problem solving has helped build a successful Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) program at Hartford Hospital, helping 60 gravely ill patients each year.

“I’ve never seen anybody take on anything like he does. He has so much fortitude,” said Dan Madison, director of Transplant Services at Hartford Hospital, who works closely with Dr. Gluck. “He gives 110 percent to everything.”

The 9/11 first responder who put himself through medical school as a New York City firefighter, Dr. Gluck is practical and pragmatic. When he realized the families of cardiac patients sent home with a left ventricular assist device (VLAD) for mechanical circulatory support needed to learn how to use the machine, he wanted to help.

They needed a simulator to practice upon but none existed. Instead, Dr. Gluck took to his garage and tinkered with different materials until he designed one. He then used it to teach patients, their family members and caregivers and even area EMS crews how to work with VLAD.

Launching the ECMO program at Hartford in 2013, Dr. Gluck became a tireless champion of the program, which introduces artificial heart and lung support to help keep the very sickest cardiology patients alive while their cardiology providers determine the next best step in their care.

He spreads the word about the program and how it can help save lives, and has lobbied for state legislation to allow respiratory care therapists to help with ECMO procedures. Hartford’s is the only program in the state with permission to use them.

“He really partners with you to say, ‘How are we going to make things work?’” Madison said.

As an administrator in the Emergency Department at The Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain, Shawnna Scirpo is a nurse first, most comfortable on the frontlines supporting her colleagues and treating patients with the care they need.

Scirpo, a self-described “nurse’s nurse,” was named a Healthcare Hero by the Hartford Business Journal, honored for her intuitive expertise, leadership qualities, and nurturing contributions to the community.

Her management style is simple.

“Lead by example – I never ask anyone to do something I wouldn’t do myself,” says Scirpo. “My core values consist of fair and equitable decision-making, kindness, authentic behavior, positive work ethic, and family.”

She has derived great satisfaction in doing the work she loves with a team she loves. Recognizing that her staff had been emotionally impacted by the passing of a patient, Scirpo arrived at the hospital in the overnight hours to support them, and provided a social worker, as well.

Being a manager was a role she initially turned down, but with her husband’s encouragement, she eventually accepted the challenge.

“This role has allowed me to do what I love,” says Scirpo. “But it has also given me the opportunity to grow as a leader, with the ability to be a change agent for the good of our patients.”

Scirpo enjoys coaching and mentoring other leaders in the organization and working on initiatives to improve the patient experience. Some initiatives include the development of an Emergency Department brochure, designed to explain the experience for patients. She also helped develop and foster a partnership with local emergency medical services to build a more collaborative relationship.

And as if life in the Emergency Department isn’t busy enough, Shawnna has found time to pursue an MBA and be a mother to 11 children. She and her husband are parents to six biological children, four adopted children, and one who is a foster child.

As a foster parent, Scirpo is fiercely committed to social justice.

“I continuously fight to make sure my kids are treated fairly, making sure their needs come first and foremost,” she says. “We treat them as our own until our time with them ends. We also have reunified a daughter to her biological mom and transitioned a son and daughter to their forever home.”

Meanwhile, back at the hospital, it’s not hard for her to picture a perfect day at work.

“Wearing scrubs and helping my staff on the floor take care of the patients we serve.”

For information on the Hartford HealthCare ECMO program, click here. For information on Emergency Services at The Hospital of Central Connecticut, click here.