American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

ACS and Connecticut Health Care Leaders Unite to Drive Discussions

Connecticut Surgical Quality Collaborative announces addition of six hospitals, increasing information-sharing footprint across state


CHICAGO (April 26, 2013): The American College of Surgeons (ACS) today hosted the ACS Surgical Health Care Quality Forum Connecticut, in partnership with the ACS Connecticut Chapter and the Connecticut State Medical Society.  The forum was the 13th in a series of events that bring together surgeons, hospitals, health  plans, physicians, government, and other health care leaders to share best practices for improving patient care, achieving better outcomes and curbing rising health care costs.

The Connecticut Forum highlighted the efforts of the Connecticut Surgical Quality Collaborative (CtSQC), a statewide group of 20 hospitals that meets regularly to share quality outcomes including successes and best practices for the benefit of all patients in the state. 

The CtSQC announced that six additional hospitals are joining this effort, including: Hartford Hospital, The Hospital of Central Connecticut, Windham Hospital, MidState Medical Center, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, and John Dempsey Hospital at the UConn Health Center.  Many of the CtSQC hospitals also use the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®) to focus on improving outcomes in key areas of surgical care and providing the utmost value—health outcomes achieved per dollar spent—to patients, hospitals, and health plans.

“Our collaborative is a unique forum to get hospitals at the table, not as competitors, but as health care providers with a common goal to improve patient care,” said forum host Scott J. Ellner, DO, MPH, FACS, director of surgical quality, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, assistant professor of surgery, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, and Co-chair, ACS Connecticut Chapter Committee on Patient Safety.  “We now have more than two-thirds of the hospitals in the state participating, sharing practical and candid information with each other, and that’s something we all can be really proud of.  As a result of this effort, patients will get better care and our health care system will improve—everyone wins.”

“Connecticut is the perfect example of what the College aspires to drive forward with these forums and the Inspiring Quality initiative—encouraging collaboration to share tangible examples of quality improvement and therefore provide a platform for action,” said ACS Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS.  “The health care system is complicated and varies significantly state by state, but quality improvement doesn’t have to be complex and difficult to achieve if we’re all on the same page about what needs to be fixed.”

The Connecticut forum featured a diverse set of perspectives that offered insight into what is currently being done to ensure high quality health care at their organizations, and some of the challenges state providers and health plans are facing in the wake of health reform, including:

  • Kevin J. Counihan, CEO, Access Health CT

"Premium rate increases are among the greatest threats to the sustainability of health reform and enhanced access to health insurance.  The implementation of the ACA and of state marketplaces provides new opportunities to examine fresh ways to address this issue."

  • Andrew Baskin, MD, national medical director, quality and provider performance, Aetna

“Quality improvement is more than just one single event or provider—it requires partnerships throughout the spectrum of care.  Health plans like Aetna, as partners, play a very important role in supporting and enabling better care.  We can achieve this through new models, such as accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes, coupled with health information technology tools.”

  • Colleen Desai, MSN, RN, CEN, trauma program manager, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center; president-elect, Connecticut Emergency Nurses Association

“At Saint Francis, we rely on quality programs like ACS NSQIP and the ACS Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP) to tell us exactly how we’re doing in key areas so we know what we need to improve on.  Having this information, coupled with the CtSQC as a forum to brainstorm how to improve, has really moved the needle to affect change.”

  • Alison L. Hong, MD, director, quality and patient safety, Connecticut Hospital Association

“Connecticut hospitals are setting the standard for quality and patient safety, and last year they began an ambitious first-of-its-kind statewide initiative to eliminate all cause preventable harm using high-reliability science to create a culture of safety.  Improving surgical quality outcomes is among the many goals of this quality and safety improvement program.  Meanwhile on the national level, Connecticut hospitals are recognized as leaders by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for their participation in Partnership for Patients, an initiative to prevent harm and reduce readmissions.”

  • Kathleen LaVorgna, MD, FACS, private practice surgeon, Norwalk Hospital; president, ACS Connecticut Chapter

"Participation in the state collaborative allows us to compare our quality issues with other hospitals in our state and by sharing our experiences we learn from each other and the quality movement becomes not just a concept to discuss, but a real collaborative project based on science and clinical results.  We don't just want good quality in Connecticut—we want the best quality and NSQIP data helps us reach this goal."

  • Kevin P. Lembo, Comptroller, State of Connecticut

"As state comptroller, I coordinate health care for more than 200,000 people and we are quickly seeing the benefits when you emphasize quality care.  Through the Health Enhancement Program (HEP), we are bringing patients closer to primary care—proving that quality care and management results in better outcomes for both the patient and the plan.  We hope to build on this success across all medical specialties, including surgical care.”

  • Rocco Orlando III, MD, FACS, senior vice president and chief medical officer, Hartford HealthCare

“The foundation of sustainable quality improvement for any health care organization is culture and high reliability.  Our leaders drive our culture by linking our values to our performance. Across our health system, we set goals collectively and collaboratively— building dashboards and objective metrics to assess our progress.”

  • Donna Laliberte O’Shea, MD, MBA, CPE, market medical director, Connecticut, UnitedHealthcare

“Transparency will continue to play a larger role as we examine both how to define quality and how to provide higher-quality care.  Physicians need transparent, reliable data that generates evidence-based quality markers and helps us determine how to judge quality and helps consumers and employers to seek out quality performers.  The onus is on us, as a health plan, to provide an effective forum for these things to happen.”

Since launching its Inspiring Quality initiative in 2011, ACS has hosted 13 community forums with health care leaders across the nation in an effort to foster discussions about surgical quality programs that advance patient care and measurably improve outcomes.

To view the archived Connecticut forum video and follow additional updates, please visit or the College’s YouTube channel at

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About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 79,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit


Sally Garneski


Trish Corprew