Our Leadership Team

Gerard J. Girasole, MD
Medical Co-Director

Dr. Gerard J. Girasole, a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon, has extensive experience in the treatment of lumbar disc disease, neck pain, scoliosis, herniated discs and spinal stenosis in both operative and non-operative techniques. He is on the forefront of minimally-invasive surgical techniques for patients with low back pain and he is very active in the training of other surgeons in the various techniques. He is also actively involved in computer-assisted robotic spine surgery. Dr. Girasole currently serves as the medical co-director of the new Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. More About Gerard>>

John Irving, MD
Medical Co-Director

John “Jack” Irving, M.D. is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon and fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. A native of Milford, he graduated from the Tulane University School of Medicine where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and received the Gold Scalpel Award for excellence in Surgery. Dr. Irving then completed a five-year orthopaedic residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. More About Jack >>

Andrew Turczak, MHS, MBA, PA-C
Vice President

Andrew performed his undergraduate training at Quinnipiac University graduating summa cum laude and earning his BS in 2007. Upon completion of this degree, he earned his MHS from Quinnipiac in 2009 in physician assistant studies. More About Andrew >>

Donna Sassi, MSN, RN, NEA-BC
VP, Ambulatory Services & COI

Donna has more than 30 years of health care experience, with a focus in operational and labor relations, workforce planning, strategic planning and organizational development. She works closely with the leadership of Hartford Healthcare’s institutes and regions. She provides oversight of Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute for physician alignment, inpatient/outpatient surgical capacity, operations and growth and expansion opportunities for this service. Under her leadership, COI has achieved top-decile patient experience scores, and has earned advanced certification distinctions from The Joint Commission.

Donna was part of the transition from Meriden Wallingford Hospital to the MidState Medical Center campus creating a destination for orthopaedics at MidState. She has lead the transition team for MidState building projects which included a new emergency department, four-story building and hybrid OR. She has led the Perioperative Services system-wide council and now sits on the Boards for all HCC JV’s (Ambulatory Surgical and Endoscopy Centers).

Throughout her career, Donna has succeeded in a series of increasingly expansive and challenging responsibilities. Under her leadership as Senior Director of the Surgical and In-House Physician Assistants she was awarded Surgicenter Team of the Year in 2013 and as Senior Director of the Orthopedic and Spine Service Line she earned the Blue Distinction for Spine Surgery, Hip and Knee Replacements in 2011.

Donna is Board Certified by the ANCC as an Advanced Nurse Executive and holds a Master of Science in Nursing in Patient Care Service Administration from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Hartford and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Central Connecticut State University.

Donna was born and raised in Meriden, Connecticut. She and her husband have two grown children, two granddaughters and one grandson, and make their home in Cromwell, Connecticut.

Theresa Bowling, MD
Director of Anesthesia

Dr. Theresa Bowling is a board-certified anesthesiologist with more than 20 years of experience. She graduated from Hofstra University Magna cum laude, attended medical school at the State University of New York at Syracuse, and was Chief Resident when she completed her anesthesia residency at Yale New Haven Hospital in 1995.

Dr. Bowling practiced for 20 years in Stamford, CT during which her roles included Medical Director, Director of Acute Pain Management, Chairman of the Credentialing Committee, and Chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology.

Dr. Bowling is a nationally recognized leader in Regional Anesthesia training, acute pain management program development, and Enhanced Recovery After Surgery program implementation. She is also the President and Founder of Stamford School of Regional Anesthesia, a leading provider of training for Regional Anesthesia in the techniques of ultrasound guided nerve blocks and Regional Anesthesia program development in the context of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery.

In 2017, Dr. Bowling joined Integrated Anesthesia Associates to lead the acute pain management service at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. In 2019, when was appointed the Director of Anesthesia at the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute.

Elizabeth Maselli, MS, MBA, PA-C
Operations Manager

Liz completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at Sacred Heart University, where she graduated magna cum laude in 2005. Upon completion of this degree, she received her MS in Physician Assistant Studies from Mercy College in the Bronx, NY in 2008. She then continued her education by obtaining her MBA at the Jack Welch Program at Sacred Heart University in 2016.

Liz spent the first year of her career practicing as a Physician Assistant in a newborn intensive care unit at St. Raphael Hospital. Her passion for the operating room led her to join the department of surgery at Bridgeport Hospital covering all aspects of general surgery and trauma for the next seven years. From there she joined Stamford Hospital to become the chief PA and built a PA-run orthopaedic program and urology robotic program for nearly four years. She joined the orthopaedic team at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in January of 2020 and is currently the manager of operations.

She is an active member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) and the Connecticut Academy of Physician Assistants (ConnAPA).

Karen Platt, BSN, RN, ONC
Orthopaedic Program Manager

Karen began her career 25 years ago in orthopaedic and neurosurgical nursing with an emphasis on patient and family education. She collaborates with all disciplines to enhance the quality of care and services delivered to orthopaedic patients.

Karen has supported the team through multiple Joint Commission surveys to maintain our Certification as a Center of Excellence in Hip and Knee Replacement and is leading the charge to achieve Advanced Joint Replacement Certification. Karen is experienced in facilitating improved quality outcomes for orthopaedic populations, most notably increasing early mobility and decreasing length of stay and skilled nursing facility utilization.

Karen received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Saint Anselm College and certification in Orthopaedic Nursing. She is a former Nightingale award winner, which recognizes excellence in nursing.

John Lignore, MS, PA-C
Orthopaedic APP Clinical Manager

John is a native of New York City, where he completed his BS in Biology at Fordham University in May 1993. His interests include medicine and sports.

John has a passion for biology and kinesiology and his first occupation in the medical field was as a physical therapy assistant. He sought a degree as a physician assistant and completed a BS in Health Services and a Masters in PA Studies from Mercy College in New York in August 2002. He joined the orthopedic team at St Vincent's in 2003. He has an affinity for total joint replacement, fracture management, rehabilitation, and preventative medicine.

John has been a per diem emergency medicine PA and an office-based clinical provider for several local orthopedic groups. He also assists on the trauma team as a per diem PA. He is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Medical Science from the University of Lynchburg.

John is an active member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) and the Connecticut Academy of Physician Assistants (ConnAPA).

Dena Dzialo, BSN, RN, ONC
Nurse Manager

Dena began her career as a bedside nurse specializing in orthopeadics and neurosurgery at St. Vincent’s 13 years ago. During this time she has focused on providing exceptional care at the bedside while ensuring patient safety and satisfaction.

As a nursing leader, Dena is committed to building and supporting an extraordinary nursing team and collaborates with all care providers in order to ensure high quality patient care. She also leads the nursing team in improving unit-based orthopaedic quality measures which improve patient outcomes and support our Certification as a Center of Excellence in Hip and Knee Replacement.

Dena received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. Vincent’s college and a certification in Orthopedic Nursing. She also received the Daisy Award in 2014 which recognizes nurses who practice with great compassion.

Billie Foraker

Billie J. Foraker, RTR
Regional Physician & Community Operations Manager

Billie has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare with a focus on orthopaedics. She is a registered radiologic technologist and has enjoyed working with orthopaedic surgeons her entire career.

Previously, she served as the Director of Clinical Operations at Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists, where she was responsible for the operational integration of several orthopedic practice mergers, new physician practice development, as well as staff and team building.

Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at St. Vincent's Medical Center