When the United States women’s basketball team competes for an Olympic medal in London in the coming days, one of Lawrence + Memorial Hospital’s veteran anesthesiologists will be in the seats to cheer them on.
Dr. Tom Miett will be wearing his red, white and blue in support of the United States, but he’ll have on his University of Connecticut garb, too.
In fact, ever since Dr. Miett’s residency at the UConn Health Center more than 20 years ago, he’s been a big Huskies fan. And with six UConn graduates on the women’s Olympic team (not to mention UConn’s Geno Auriemma as head coach), his trip to London is a chance to see a UConn “Dream Team” in action.
“Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are still the best backcourt in the women’s game, so they’ll start,” Miett says. “And Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Swin Cash and Asjha Jones are also on the team. We’re going with a group of UConn alumni and they’ve arranged apartments for us to stay in. We have tickets to all the medal rounds for the women and some of the preliminary rounds for the men. I’m going with my two sons, and they’re very interested in seeing the men.”
Here at L+M, Miett’s title is director of surgical services for the operating room. He’s been working at L+M for 21 years, and he says he loves what he does.
“I think very highly of this hospital,” he says, “and I want to leave it as good as or better than I found it. I want L+M to continue to be a full-service community hospital where, from birth to the end of life, we do the common things uncommonly well.”
A trip to London for the Olympics is only one example of Dr. Miett’s diverse interests.
He’s a Harvard University graduate who studied Chaucer and medieval language before going on to medical school at Dartmouth. He loves traveling, whether the Huskies are playing or not, and some of his excursions in past years have taken him to China (twice), India, Iceland and much of Europe.
He traveled to see the U.S. women’s basketball team play in the Czech Republic two years ago, but not long ago, Miett discovered another rewarding type of travel: medical missions.
Last fall, for the first time, he traveled to Ecuador as part of a team providing surgical services to people living in primitive conditions in the Central American backcountry.
“We were in the Andes taking care of indigenous people,” he says. “Many of them, especially the older people, didn’t speak Spanish but rather their native language of Keshwa, so we’d have a Keshwa translator translating into Spanish, and then a Spanish translator translating into English.”
Miett says it was interesting on many levels to treat people in Ecuador. Unlike U.S. hospitals, there was no paperwork involved with any of the patients, but he said it made him realize how sophisticated the services are at L+M.
This November, Miett is planning his second missionary trip, this time to the Dominican Republic, using his vacation time to help others.
“After giving anesthesia in the back country of Ecuador, I can work anywhere,” he says, “so I’m going to the Dominican Republic with a group from St. Francis Medical Center in Hartford. They’ve shown us slides, and if you get outside the resorts of Punta Cana it is very poor and lacking in medical care.”
Dr. Miett says helping others has become a meaningful part of his life philosophy.
“I never really did anything like this before, and I think it all comes down to what you do for your brothers and sisters, ultimately,” he said. “It’s not about what church you go to or whether you go to church at all – it’s what you did for your brothers and sisters, and at this stage in my life, I have the time to do it.”
As Dr. Miett heads for London, he’ll have several books in his baggage. An avid reader, he often has more than one title going simultaneously. The travel writer Paul Theroux is one of his favorites. Currently, he’s reading a non-fiction account of the first professional men’s basketball team to play in the Olympics 20 years ago.
Another book he’s bringing along speaks to his constant quest for new knowledge and experiences.
“I’m also reading a collection of stories by Dylan Thomas,” he says. “After the Olympics are over, my younger son and I are going hiking in Wales, and Dylan Thomas was a Welsh writer.”
To learn more about Dr. Miett, click here.