At Day Kimball Healthcare, we celebrate "DKH Champions of the Human Spirit" - the people (staff, patients and community members) who are inspirational examples of dedication to health, wellness and happiness. In this feature, we recognize Dr. Ronald Franzino, general and laparoscopic surgeon at Day Kimball Hospital, as one of these champions.
Dr. Franzino has performed groundbreaking work and has made numerous contributions to his field and the Northeast Connecticut community at large. His medical expertise combined with his charitable and compassionate disposition, has captured the attention of the organization’s administration, his colleagues, and the community.
In 1988, Dr. Franzino joined the general surgery practice and medical staff at Day Kimball Hospital. There he started to explore laparoscopic surgical techniques and was soon assisting a biomedical company in designing the first-ever devise used for suction, irrigation, and cauterization in laparoscopic procedures. In fact, he was one of the first in Connecticut to perform laparoscopic gallbladder surgery.
In his thirty plus years at Day Kimball Healthcare (DKH), Dr. Franzino has conducted thousands of procedures for patients across Northeast Connecticut. He also assisted a local rehabilitation facility – a safe haven for young mothers with children and pregnant women with addictions – with physical examinations during a time when the organization was challenged with finding physicians.
Dr. Franzino has made many contributions to education in the health care field. As an early adopter of laparoscopic cholecystectomy he taught his techniques to other surgeons at DKH, Backus Hospital, and Windham Hospital.
He went on to teach advanced laparoscopic surgical procedures such as bowel resections and Nissen Fundoplication, a laparoscopic procedure performed for patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease, at Yale University, Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, and in Naples, Florida, in addition to DKH.
Dr. Franzino worked on the Laprotek, a surgical robot project, for Johnson & Johnson, and taught surgical robotic techniques at Tufts Medical Center in Boston to surgeons from around the world. He also worked for a venture capital company in Waltham, MA that funded medical and surgical startups and did consulting work for companies that were developing devices to improve surgery, many of which are used today.
Dr. Franzino inspires people not simply through his medical expertise but the way in which he makes patients feel welcome and comfortable. He has built a reputation among his patients for his accessible and empathetic approach and is known among the DKH family for doing little things that go a long way in helping patients feel safe and cared for.
A great example of his dedication to his patients is a story of Dr. Franzino going above and beyond the call for a patient – something he strives to do every day.
An elderly patient was admitted for surgery under Dr. Franzino’s care. Upon disclosure of the treatment plan which would include an overnight stay, the patient began to cry. He visited his wife every day who resided at a local nursing home and wanted to leave against medical advice to continue his routine.
In an effort to comfort him, Dr. Franzino offered to call the patient’s wife. The patient explained that they are both hard of hearing and have a difficult time using the phone.
That did not deter Dr. Franzino. He spoke with the nursing home administrator who agreed to use his phone to connect the patient with his wife through FaceTime before and after the patient’s surgery. Dr. Franzino, the nursing home administrator, and DKH staff helped relay the couple’s words to each other. This small gesture of compassion went a long way for the patient at a time that mattered most.
Every day Dr. Franzino works to improve the patient experience. Another example of this is DKH’s new therapy dog, Zina. Dr. Franzino and his wife brought Zina, an old English sheepdog, to DKH this past year to serve as a caregiver and companion for patients and families in DKH’s Rose Bove LaRose Cancer Center. Zina wrote a book, “Zina’s Big Adventure,” which Dr. Franzino hopes to publish for the Cancer Center.
But his contributions to cancer care in our community do not end there. Charitable goes hand in hand with Dr. Franzino’s success in healthcare. His generous philanthropic work has impacted many lives and provided support to Northeast Connecticut residents.
The focus of Dr. Franzino’s charitable work has always been to give back to the community he serves and inspires others with his philanthropic nature. Over the years, Dr. Franzino has raised funds for cancer care through his participation as a guest bartender in DKH’s annual Cruisin’ for Cancer Guest Bartender Night and his participation in the Northeast Connecticut Relay For Life with his three sheepdogs and pet squirrel, Teriyaki. Through his involvement in DKH’s Wellwishers group, he helped raise funds for DKH’s oncology service line.
The excellent care Dr. Franzino provides to patients, his contributions to the field of general and laparoscopic surgery, and his commitment to the community has touched many lives.
For these reasons and more DKH leadership has chosen to nominate Dr. Franzino for consideration as a 2019 Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) Healthcare Hero. CHA’s Healthcare Heroes Award celebrates and recognizes the invaluable contributions of exceptional healthcare workers, both to their field and to the community at large. Honorees will be recognized at CHA’s Annual Meeting in June.