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Waterbury HEALTH Podcast

Waterbury HEALTH President and CEO Deborah Weymouth answers questions about quality accomplishments, a new state legislation on staffing, the impending transaction with Yale New Haven Health System and more.  

At Waterbury Hospital we are committed to placing our patients’ needs at the forefront of everything we do. Our focus remains on providing high-quality, live-saving care that promotes the wellbeing of our residents and the communities we serve.

Our comprehensive healthcare services make a meaningful impact on thousands of lives every day. Whether it’s primary and pediatric care, emergency and specialty services, or disease diagnosis, we are committed to providing complete care to our patients.

Hear from patients and Waterbury HEALTH colleagues about how our work matters to greater Waterbury residents:

Connected to the community through work that matters – Dr. Elser’s Story

There has been a Dr. Elser in Naugatuck for more than 62 years. The Elser family has been deeply connected to the community in Naugatuck for many decades. Dr. Michael Elser, physician is the second generation of Elser men to serve the Naugatuck community as primary care providers. His father, also, Dr. Elser, cares for Naugatuck families at the same Church Street location.

Dr. Michael Elser was raised in Naugatuck. He delivered the Naugatuck News, the local daily newspaper to homes in town. Some of the people he used to deliver the newspaper to, are now his patients.

“I was married at St. Francis, right across the street,” Dr. Elser says.

Like his father before him, Dr. Elser is a member of the local chapter of Rotary International and is involved with the Naugatuck YMCA, connecting to his community through work that matters.

Christine’s Story

When Christine Sanders became a patient at Waterbury Hospital in November 2021, she experienced the type of personalized care she gave all her patients during nearly a two-decade career as a patient care associate (PCA) and lab technician at Waterbury Hospital.

“You provided me with excellent care that was truly life sustaining,” she wrote in a letter to the staff a few weeks after her stay.

Christine’s connection to Waterbury Hospital began in 1990 when she started working here. She found that listening was a skill she often used with her patients to provide care and comfort them during stressful times in their lives. As a patient, she found herself on the other end of great care from doctors, nurses, PCA’s and staff from different areas of care. Her care in the Emergency Department to the Telemetry (cardiac unit) as a hospitalized patient and currently as a Cardio-Pulmonary Rehab Center patient, has been excellent, she said.

Great care has allowed her to be healthy and well and to give back to her community through her church and community work. In addition, she is the rock of her family helping care for her grandchildren.


Rob’s Story

In August 2022, Rob Swercewski had just finished a three-hour mountain bike ride and was meeting his wife and friends at the town green for a concert. Moments after setting up his lawn chair, he knew something wasn’t right. He felt a tightness in his chest and was too weak to sit up. Friends nearby noticed that he looked pale and was sweating heavily.

Swercewski, an emergency medical technician with Beacon Hose Company No. 1 in Beacon Falls, recognized the symptoms and feared he was having a heart attack. As a first responder, he had taken care of many heart attack patients before.

After 911 was called, the Beacon Hose Company ambulance and crew arrived within minutes. “They did an ECG on me right there in the chair,” he recalled. “I remember the look on their faces. They showed me the (ECG) strip and I knew.”

The ECG indicated that he was having an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), a type of heart attack – also known as a “widow maker” – that tends to be more severe and more dangerous than other heart attacks. Time was of the essence. The ambulance crew transmitted the ECG to Waterbury Hospital’s Emergency Department from the scene and rushed Swercewski to the hospital.

He was given emergency care and cardiac monitoring during the ambulance ride. At the hospital, he was taken to the cardiac catheterization lab where it was determined that his heart’s left anterior descending artery was 100 percent blocked.

During the 90 minutes Swercewski spent in the Cath lab, the interventional cardiology team performed a balloon angioplasty to restore blood flow to his artery, then inserted stents (tiny mesh tubes) to prevent the artery from closing again. Following the procedure, his color returned, and he began feeling better.

After a day and a half in the hospital, Swercewski was discharged with orders to follow up with Arslan Johnghar, MD, at Cardiology Associates of Greater Waterbury. After a few weeks of monitoring and some new medication, he is back to saving lives and performing his normal physical activities.

“Being on the receiving end of emergency care was quite an eye opener,” said Swercewski. “I’m grateful to my fellow EMS responders and to the staff at Waterbury Hospital for saving my life.”


Dr. Hill’s Story

Dr. David Hill is a pulmonologist and critical care doctor and his colleagues care for thousands of patients each year in the office in Waterbury and in the Intensive Care Units at Waterbury’s two hospitals. They see more than 100 patients a day, some as young as 6 years old who suffer from diseases such as asthma, COPD, lung cancer and more.

A well-known physician with decades of experience caring for patients in greater Waterbury and Connecticut, Dr. Hill has another role that has put him on the national and international stage.

 Besides his hands-on work with patients, he advocates for clean air as a chair elect of the American Lung Association.

“I like to say we represent everyone who breathes,” says Dr. Hill.

 His advocacy work at the national and international level is work that matters and connects him to his community in an important way. As part of this more than 25-year advocacy work with the American Lung Association, Dr. Hill has testified before the U.S. Congress on clean air legislation and served as a spokesman and expert nationally and internationally.


Behavioral Health - Samaria Greene

Waterbury HEALTH’s Behavioral Health and Crisis Intervention team treats more than 10,000 patients a year. The team, made of therapist, psychiatrists, social workers, takes a comprehensive approach fixing not just symptoms on the surface but the underlying problems.

“We serve a group of people in our community that are brilliant people, they’re unique people, they have unique goals, unique desires. They have hope for their future. We are creating an environment, a system by which people are able to be productive, they’re able to be mentally, physically, spiritually sound, (mind, body, soul) and they can give back to their community,” said Samaria Green, the Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health and Crisis Intervention.

Waterbury HEALTH offers comprehensive programs that include individual therapy, intensive outpatient services, addictions services and treatment for co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders. There is a significant need in our community for addictions and mental health services. Waterbury HEALTH has been a major provider of these services to the community for more than three decades. Help goes beyond mental health and addiction to peer counseling and support services such as connecting patients with housing and job resources.

“We’re moving them from psychiatric and addiction barriers to high function where they can serve their community." Hear from Samaria about the compassion and care her team displays and why their work is so important.



Dave Dugan is Connected to Waterbury Hospital Through Work That Matters

Dave’s relationship with Waterbury Hospital began with a year-long battle for his own life. The heroic efforts that led to his survival cemented his connection to the hospital where he has continued to work for decades.

“In 1971, I was diagnosed with an extremely rare heart disease. The doctors and the staff at this hospital saved my life. I lived in the old pediatric ward for a whole year in an oxygen tank and, since then, I’ve had a love for this hospital, the doctors, and the nurses. That’s why I decided this is where I want to get a little old and this is where I want to spend the rest of my days working.” 

Dave works in receiving and supply chain. His connection to Waterbury Hospital started at 10 years old. It continued through work as a porter in the ED, where he got an even greater appreciation for the life saving work that happens at Waterbury Hospital. 

As a materials management service representative he knows that his work, as anyone else’s at Waterbury HEALTH, centers around the patient. 

Our work matters to the people who come here for care and the community they live in. Dave’s story is a great example of this work.



Dr. Sam and his team are connected to the community through work that matters

If you were born and raised in greater Waterbury, there is a good chance, you were cared for by Waterbury HEALTH pediatricians, nurses and staff. Dr. Kweku Sam and his colleagues at Alliance Medical Group, the largest pediatric provider in greater Waterbury see 125 to 150 patients each day and speak with another 150 to 200 more parents or patients about care daily.

With six physicians and two advanced nurse practitioners, Alliance Medial Group pediatrics open seven days a week, 364 days a year (every day of the year except Christmas).

The relationship with a pediatrician often starts in the hospital when a patient is just born. As children grow, pediatricians advise families on growth and development and care that includes overall wellness and mental health.  

“We respect the families and they in turn look to us to provide guidance,” said Dr. Sam, a pediatrician in greater Waterbury for over 25 years. Dr. Sam has served as medical advisor to Waterbury Public Schools and is currently the medical advisor to Region 15 (Middlebury and Southbury schools).


Dr. Belcher’s story

Waterbury HEALTH radiologists read some 375 to 400 sets of images every day, 365 days of the year. Those include images from patients hospitalized at Waterbury Hospital, patients visiting the ED as well as images from patients vising imaging locations throughout the Waterbury HEALTH network and Diagnostic Radiology Associates. Extensive training and the latest technology, available at Waterbury Hospital and outpatient locations, help radiologists make the most accurate, often life-saving diagnoses for patients. 

“There are a lot of people in our area who have a hard time getting to New Haven or Hartford. We have extremely talented physicians and staff that can offer a lot of procedures that people used to have to go outside the region for,” said Dr. Belcher.

Sophisticated technology including a state-of-the-art interventional radiology room at Waterbury Hospital, open MRI in the community and lots of other state of art technology help talented physicians and staff make life-saving diagnoses for patients. This sophisticated imaging care expands beyond Waterbury to Middlebury, Southbury and more. 

Sophisticated technology and expert care connect Dr. Belcher and his colleagues to the community through work that matters.


Excellence in Stroke Care -

About 300 to 400 patients are treated for stroke symptoms at Waterbury Hospital. A community hospital that offers comprehensive life-saving stroke care is vital to the community. Kathryn Myers, Waterbury Hospital Stroke Coordinator, a longtime nurse, paramedic and EMT (emergency medical technician) explains that for a patient who is having a stroke time is critical.

“The earlier you come in, as soon as you notice symptoms, the better of a chance you have at recovery,” says Kathryn. 

She urges patients to call 911 immediately is you think you or your loved one is having stroke symptoms. Those symptoms include one sided facial drooping, inability to move your arms, or one side of the body, slurred speech, strong headache.

During a stroke your brain loses 1.9 million cells a minute. With the damage increasing every minute “time is brain” Kathryn says.

Waterbury Hospital is an Advanced Primary Stroke Center. This certification by the Joint Commission is achieved by meeting rigorous standards for achieving long-term success in improving outcomes for stroke patients. The designation recognizes Waterbury Hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines developed from the latest scientific evidence.