A salute to Scifo: Community education room named for Trumbull resident

The look on Dr. Frank Scifo’s face said it all.

To see his name revealed above the entrance of the community education room at the Stratford Health & Wellness Center had him stunned. All he could do was put a hand over his mouth while an audience of co-workers, family and former patients applauded.

When visitors to the health and wellness center operated by St. Vincent’s Health Services arrive at the big room on the second floor, they’ll see Scifo’s name and picture, as the room was dedicated in his honor during a ceremony on Monday night.

Yet Scifo, who thought the event was just to celebrate the education room’s formal opening, had no idea he was being honored until his name was revealed.

“I had not a clue. I never, ever, ever, ever expected this,” Scifo said. “I felt a wave of emotion of being humbled, of seeing something that I believed in come to fruition.”

The honor is well deserved, according to friends and colleagues at St. Vincent’s. Scifo has worked in Stratford as a family physician for 22 years while also serving on the staff of St. Vincent’s Medical Center. Scifo became primary care development director at St. Vincent’s in 2008. In  2012, Scifo became medical director of the St. Vincent’s MultiSpecialty Group.

Scifo has also co-chaired the St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound since 2000. That event helps raise money to fight cancer. He also hosts a weekly health talk show on WICC radio, and a photo of him in the WICC studio hangs at the entrance of the room.

The Community Education Room, which includes kitchen facilities for healthy nutrition and cooking demonstrations, will host lectures and presentations.

“The room is really going to serve as a wonderful venue to educate the citizens of Stratford and beyond the citizens of Stratford,” he said. “This was our gift, St. Vincent’s gift to the Stratford community.”

Dianne Auger, chief strategy officer for St. Vincent’s Medical Services, said it was Scifo’s dream for St. Vincent’s to have a facility and “a real presence” in Stratford because he practiced in Stratford for so long and knew the people. The room was a real priority for Scifo, said Auger, herself a Stratford resident.

“He really wanted this to be a center of activity, and one of his important visions for the building, besides all the services that we had, was to have a community education space where people could learn to be healthy,” Auger said.

Auger said she and three other people knew about naming the room for Scifo and they didn’t want to take any chances.

“He knows everybody and we were afraid that somebody would tell him, so we made sure nobody knew,”she said.

The look on Scifo’s face was worth it, she said.

“It was gratifying, because he’s a special man,” she said. “He means a lot to us. For those of us who really know Frank, we knew how much this would mean to him.”

Mayor John Harkins called the event “a wonderful dedication to a wonderful man.”

“I can’t say enough about how much I feel about this man,” added the mayor, saluting Scifo as an advocate for physicians and patients in general.

Scifo enjoyed the moment, but said he was overcome with emotion. That emotion continued as he was greeted with hugs from friends and family members, most notably his grandchildren, Samantha Baglio, 2 and Nicholas Baglio, 4.

“It’s probably the nicest recognition and gift one can get, and what makes it sweeter is it was never any intention to get any of that,” he said. “For me, I always get more when I give. I’m the one that receives when I give.”