News
FOR RELEASE: 12/15/2011Contact: John Cappiello, (203) 384-3637
kjcapp@bpthosp.org

Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital receives naming gift from Joel Smilow


One of Bridgeport Hospital’s cornerstone services has a new name—the Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute—following receipt of a major gift from the well-known Southport philanthropist.

“Mr. Smilow’s generous gift will help ensure the continued delivery of the state-of-the-art care that we have provided to heart patients for more than a half-century,” said Bridgeport Hospital President and CEO William M. Jennings. “This gift lays a solid foundation for further innovations and quality enhancements that will benefit patients for years to come.”

Smilow, the former Chairman, CEO and President of Playtex Products Inc., has been a major donor to six other healthcare organizations as well as other causes, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the New York Philharmonic and Yale University, his alma mater along with the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. In 2007, his largest single gift named the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.

“On behalf of our patients and their families, Bridgeport Hospital’s cardiologists and cardiac surgeons and staff are most grateful to Mr. Smilow for supporting the continued advancement of cardiac care in the Bridgeport area,” said Stuart Zarich, MD, Chief of Cardiology. “Even a skilled and experienced clinical team needs adequate financial resources in order to thrive—and this gift is truly a shot in the arm.”

Bridgeport Hospital has been a leader in advanced cardiac care for more than 50 years. The hospital performed the first diagnostic cardiac catheterization in Fairfield County in 1961, the county’s first open-heart surgery in 1963 and the county’s first balloon angioplasty in 1981.

In 1992, Bridgeport Hospital opened Fairfield County’s first electrophysiology laboratory for the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders and established Connecticut first accredited chest pain center for the rapid diagnosis and treatment of heart attacks in 1994.

Other Fairfield County firsts at Bridgeport Hospital include the use of bare metal stents in 1994 to fortify re-opened arteries following angioplasty, and the use of drug-coated and antibiotic-coated stents in 2001 and 2003, respectively, to prevent reclotting of the arteries.

Expert physicians at Bridgeport Hospital also implanted Fairfield County’s first pacemaker for the treatment of congestive heart failure in 2001 and the county’s first implantable defibrillator to prevent sudden cardiac death in 1995. Another milestone at Bridgeport Hospital in 2001 was Fairfield County’s first catheter ablation to treat atrial fibrillation (a-fib), the most common type of heart rhythm disorder.

In 2006, the hospital was the site of Fairfield County’s first minimally invasive Mini-Maze surgery to treat a-fib and most recently, in June 2011, Bridgeport Hospital experts performed New England’s first hybrid ablation procedure for a-fib.


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Part of Yale New Haven Health System, Bridgeport Hospital is a 383-bed acute care hospital (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital) serving parts of Fairfield and New Haven counties. The hospital admits more than 18,000 patients and receives more than 240,000 outpatient visits annually.