If you needed to find a policy, understand a procedure or have your car jump started, there was only one person in the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) West Region to go to, Gary Durante. Recently retired, Mr. Durante, BSN, RN, West Region Director of Health Services was best described by his colleges as being a man of compassion, empathy and a true gentleman.
Mr. Durante’s lifetime career of helping people was recognized by the State of Connecticut Management Advisory Council (MAC) as one of the recipients of the 2011 Distinguished Managerial Service Award. He was honored at the State Managers Day on September 23 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville.
“As I read various pieces about Gary, I was struck that he has that special gift of presence with those he works with and for”, said DDS Commissioner Terrence W. Macy, Ph.D. “There is a phenomenon in our field and others where “professional distance” is a part of clinical practice. Gary’s work is an example of quite the opposite. He is hands on and down to earth”.
Commissioner Macy was on hand to present the award to Mr. Durante. “We are very grateful for Gary’s many contributions over so many years. Very near and dear to me has been his outreach to the larger community, mentoring his peers in other medical settings as to best practice with persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities”, continued Commissioner Macy.
Mr. Durante began his career in 1979 at Southbury Training School (STS) as an MR Aide II/Graduate Practical Nurse. Through the years he continually enhanced his degrees obtaining his Associate Degree in Nursing in 1995, his Registered Nurse license in 1995 and his Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Central Connecticut State University in 2000. He was promoted from a Clinical Nurse 1 all the way to the Director of Nursing Services for the West Region in 2004.
As he worked for his degrees and continued to hold down his job at DDS, he found the time to reach out to the communities. Mr. Durante spent time informing local hospitals and their staff on the treatment of people with intellectual disability, ensuring that all individuals are treated properly, promptly and equitably during their hospital stay.
In his spare time, Mr. Durante served on many boards and committees including; Regional Mortality Review Chair, Program Review Committee Chair, Human Rights Committee, Utilization review, Consultant to PRAT, Independent Mortality Review Board, Forensic Board member, CTH Risk Review member, Regional Nursing Meeting and the Nurse Consultant State-wide Group.
Now in retirement, Mr. Durante will be remembered fondly by the people he served over the years and the colleagues he worked beside. He was an exemplary clinician and leader, but more than that, he cared deeply about the people who needed his help and always tried to improve their lives and their health.