Saint Francis Shines Spotlight on National Patient Safety Awareness Week

Marcus Engel, National Speaker and Author, Shares His Extraordinary Near-Death Experience 

(Hartford, Conn. March 6, 2013)  For the second year, Saint Francis is proud to recognize National Patient Safety Awareness Week with another inspiring guest speaker. 

Marcus Engel was a college freshman when he nearly lost his life after his car was hit by a drunk driver.  Marcus blinded by the accident, endured two years of aggressive rehabilitation and over 300 hours of facial reconstructive surgery. 

Today, Marcus and his guide dog, Garrett, travel the country spreading a message of empowerment while honoring the tireless efforts of healthcare professionals.  Marcus’s perspective on his survival and recovery is both enlightening and riveting. 

 “We are honored to have Marcus Engel speak to the Saint Francis staff, outside healthcare workers and patients about relationship-based care,” said Scott Ellner, D.O., Vice Chairman of Surgery, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center.  “Marcus has used the tragedy of his traumatic blindness to teach healthcare providers communication skills through Narrative Medicine,” added Dr. Ellner. 

Marcus is a national presenter and author who received a M.S. in Narrative Medicine.  Narrative Medicine focuses on addressing the needs of patients and caregivers to voice their experiences, to be heard and to be valued.  It acknowledges the power of narrative to change the way care is given and received.  Marcus will introduce some of these concepts to participants as a way to capture stories that lead to improving patient care. 

Saint Francis continues to lead the way in developing procedures to improve patient care and safety.  Five years ago, an operating room team training program and a surgical checklist were developed and implemented to prevent safety-compromising events during OR procedures.  As a result, the Hospital has seen a 70% reduction in post-surgical complication rates.  This prompted recognition from the Joint Commission for demonstrating “Best Practice” for time-outs in the OR.  Other safety measures Saint Francis has put into place to ensure patient safety include infection control and relationship-based caring practices.  

 “Patient safety has always been our first priority at Saint Francis,” said Christopher M. Dadlez, President and Chief Executive Officer at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center.  “Saint Francis continues to be recognized nationally for our efforts as a recipient of the 2012 HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award™, categorizing us among the top 5% of U.S. hospitals in patient safety,” concluded Dadlez. 

Saint Francis was also recognized by the Leapfrog Group as the only hospital in central Connecticut to receive an “A” rating for patient safety, one of only three hospitals statewide to merit this distinction.  And, more recently, Saint Francis was honored by CareChex®, a division of Comparion®, for patient safety and medical excellence achievements in numerous categories in its 2013 hospital award rankings. 

About Saint Francis Care 

Saint Francis Care is an integrated healthcare delivery system established by Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, an anchor institution in north central Connecticut since 1897.  Licensed for 617 beds and 65 bassinets, it is a major teaching hospital and the largest Catholic hospital in New England.  Other major entities of Saint Francis Care include The Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital, the Connecticut Joint Replacement Institute, the Hoffman Heart and Vascular Institute of Connecticut, the Saint Francis/Mount Sinai Regional Cancer Center, the Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research, and Saint Francis HealthCare Partners.  Its services are supported by a network of five major Access Centers and eight additional medical office centers sited throughout the region.  For more information, visit