Patient Stories: 
Kurt Lauritzen
Kurt Lauritzen

Kurt’s journey to his job at HSC is a bit unusual. Once a bricklayer who learned his trade at an early age, Kurt has joined our staff as a Respiratory Therapist.

In 1997, 28-year-old Kurt Lauritzen found himself feeling unusually weak. He was admitted to the John Dempsey Hospital at the University of Connecticut Health Center and diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Within hours, this robust young man was intubated, paralyzed, and quite frankly, scared.

Kurt arrived at Hospital for Special Care in June 1997 and was admitted to our Close Observation Unit (COU) for ventilator weaning and physical therapy. Under the care of Dr. Paul Scalise and the COU staff, Kurt faced months of hard work to get healthy. He dealt with fear, anxiety and depression. To focus on something outside the body that he felt had failed him he counted the holes in the ceiling tiles. Kurt says it was the compassion of the clinicians, who made him work hard even when he didn’t want to, that helped him when he got frustrated and down.

Successfully weaned off the vent, Kurt had to rebuild his physical strength. Finally, in December 1997, after six months at Hospital for Special Care, he went home.

Kurt says that “My experiences here as a patient and having Guillain-Barre, along with having cared for a sick mother and my desire to help others” led him to go back to school to become a Respiratory Therapist (RT). It took a while, but he enrolled at Goodwin College in 2009 and graduated in 2013. Among his instructors at Goodwin were HSC employees Connie Dills and Pamela Held. He went on to say that “I was so impressed by their passion; I want to surround myself with people like that.”

Connie speaks highly of Kurt. “He really is the quintessential RT due to that fact that he has personally experienced much of what we do as Respiratory Therapists. He knows what it’s like to be on a ventilator for a long period of time, to be suctioned, and to be on the receiving end of the multitude of therapies and interventions that we do each and every day. It’s hard to find a better teacher than empathy. As one of his instructors, I observed this quality in Kurt - that he uses empathy as a motivating factor to achieve academic and professional success.”

Pam adds, “Kurt is a very hard worker, avoids drama, and has overcome many personal challenges to be where he is today. He interacts extremely well with patients, is a team player, and we are happy to have him on our per diem staff.”

In 2016, Kurt came back to HSC -HSC - this time he is on the other side of the bed as a caregiver. He will be an advocate for his patients and a reminder to all staff that we really do Rebuild Lives.