UConn Health Nurse Practitioner Earns SCDAA Award

Genice Nelson Works at the New England Sickle Cell Institute

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by Mary Chapman |

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The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA) has granted its President’s Award to board-certified nurse practitioner Genice Nelson, PhD,  of UConn Health’s New England Sickle Cell Institute (NESCI)

Nelson was honored for her hard work and “immeasurable” dedication to the sickle cell community, and specifically for her work to improve education and increase understanding and awareness of sickle cell disease (SCD) nationwide.

The award was granted during the nonprofit’s 50th Annual Convention, which was held virtually Oct. 14. The meeting brought together sickle cell community members to share progress in outreach, treatment, and research for sickle cell conditions, with a focus on future developments.

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“Our goal is to inform our constituents as well as the public, about the progress and ongoing importance of improving access to quality care,” Regina Hartfield, president and CEO of SCDAA, said in her award letter to Nelson, according to a news story from UConn.

“It is through expertise and dynamic leadership, such as yours, that our community will be able to achieve this goal,” Hartfield added.

Nelson has a master’s degree in nursing from the Yale School of Nursing, and a doctorate of nursing from the School of Nursing at the University of Connecticut (UConn). For more than two decades, according to the story, Nelson has provided high-quality, respectful care to sickle cell patients, while advocating on their behalf.

“I saw that patients with sickle cell really need a voice,” Nelson said. “I felt like I could be that voice.”

Nelson became NESCI’s program director in 2019.  She previously had worked at UConn Health from 2012 to 2015. During that time, she helped to establish the sickle cell clinic that subsequently led to the NESCI that opened in 2016 at UConn John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington.

Before rejoining UConn Health in 2019, Nelson spent three years at the University of Texas at Dallas where she created a comprehensive infusion care space for the area’s 750 sickle cell patients. She also has worked at Yale University.

NESCI houses the region’s only — and first of its kind — dedicated outpatient center for sickle cell patients. In addition to scheduled appointments, the comprehensive institute provides urgent care for SCD complications, including pain crises, dehydration and worsening anemia.

The institute features a spacious patient care area with exam and specialized blood transfusion rooms, plus private acute care suites. For any critical care patient needs, UConn Health’s emergency department and blood-related inpatient care unit are located in the same building.

UConn Health’s sickle cell program has grown from just 20 patients to more than 300 Connecticut residents with the blood disorder.

Meanwhile, Nelson and the NESCI team are conducting preclinical and clinical studies to find better SCD treatments and hopefully a cure.

The SCDAA advocates for the sickle cell community and works to empower community-based SCD organizations.