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New Courtyard, Fountain Offers Hartford Hospital Respite With a Sentimental Twist

September 27, 2021

In the 1920s, at the center of Heublein Courtyard at the Hartford Hospital School of Nursing, stood a sculpture in a fountain.

Was it a heron? An egret? A crane? Whatever the species, nurses called him Hepatitis, affectionately named for the way the water discolored when the fountain was due for cleaning.

Over the years, the courtyard gave way to development and the grounds were repurposed as the hospital expanded. Today, Hepatitis’ memory and the space it occupied have been resurrected and reimagined with the new John Kelley Springer Courtyard and Alumnae Association of the Hartford Hospital School of Nursing Fountain.

The courtyard and fountain were unveiled this week during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the space tucked between the ERC-ERD buildings. Named in memory of the beloved leader who served as the 18th president of Hartford Hospital, the courtyard will provide a peaceful retreat for nurses and colleagues away from the hustle and bustle of the hospital.

“This is a wonderful celebration of history,” said Hartford Hospital President Bimal Patel. “While I never had a chance to meet him, it is an inspiration to walk the same way John walked on this campus. I am also grateful for the contributions of the nurses and alumni.”

With Springer’s widow Jane and four daughters in attendance, stories were shared of the man who was instrumental in developing the LIFE STAR, trauma and transplant programs.

“Our dad would be so proud that this is happening,” said Kelley Springer Braun. “He loved the nurses, he loved education, and I am sure he is happy to know that people will come here for solace and hope and learning. We know he is here.”

“John Kelley Springer was at the helm of Hartford Hospital for 13 years. Under his leadership, a transplant program, a trauma program and LIFE STAR were developed,” said Vice President of Operations Cheryl Ficara. “He was a beloved leader who had a passion for lifting Hartford Hospital to its highest potential. Nurses at the hospital held John in high regard – he took time to remember names and faces, and was always interested in their lives, both professionally and personally.”

The courtyard and fountain were made possible by generous donations and support from the School of Nursing Alumnae Association, Dr. Evan Fox and family, Marcia and John Hincks, Dr. and Mrs. Lenworth Jacobs, Eric and Penny Marziali, David and Anne Palmer, and Doris and the late Pete Thomas.

Hartford Hospital School of Nursing was an influential learning institution from 1877 until 1976, shaping and educating generations of nurses. To this day, the School of Nursing Alumnae Association is a vibrant and active group, giving back to the hospital in so many ways. Its members continue to play an active role in the progress and mission of the hospital.

“We have been looking forward to this day,” said Vice President of Philanthropy Lynn Rossini. “We are incredibly grateful to all those who played such a special role in making the courtyard possible.”

“The Hartford Hospital Alumnae Association is proud and honored to donate this fountain in memory of John Springer,” said Betty Ann Fusco of the Hartford Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Association. “His love of nursing was evident as he strolled the units and engaged with nurses as family members.”