FOR RELEASE: 7/14/2014Contact: John Cappiello, (203) 384-3637

Smilow gift helps create education center for heart patients

The Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital has a new patient reception and education center, thanks to the generosity of the man who gave the institute its name. A dedication ceremony was held July 9 with Smilow, hospital leaders, cardiologists, nurses and other staff in attendance.
Jennings and Smilow
Bridgeport Hospital President and CEO Bill Jennings (left) chats with Joel Smilow in the new patient reception and education center.

“We have a beautiful new face for the Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute and we’re proud,” said hospital President and CEO Bill Jennings at the ceremony.

Then, acknowledging Smilow’s 2011 naming gift to the heart institute, Jennings said, “What is often never discussed in philanthropy is compassion. Your gift gives us the ability to provide greater compassion to our patients.”

“The new center is a centerpiece for our doctors and patients, the glue of our Heart Institute,” added Chief of Cardiology Stuart Zarich, MD. “We now have private surroundings to talk with our patients, and a place where patients and their families can relax, contemplate and learn.”

“Space like this is a necessity, allowing patients and their families some private time to collect themselves,” said MaryEllen Kosturko, senior vice president of Patient Care Operations and chief nursing officer. “It’s a fabulous gift.”

“I’ve become a real believer that it’s important for patients to psychologically feel that they’re in a top-notch facility,” said Smilow, of Southport, a former chairman and CEO of Playtex Products. “It really does make a difference, and doctors and nurses can see it.”

Over the years, Smilow’s philanthropy has benefitted a number of other community organizations, including Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, Yale University, Norwalk Hospital, the Westport Public Library and the Hopkins School in New Haven.

The Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital has been at the forefront of advanced cardiovascular care for more than 50 years. The hospital is the site of Fairfield County’s first open-heart surgery, diagnostic cardiac catheterization procedure, balloon angioplasty and cardiac electrophysiology laboratory. More recently, the hospital was the first in New England to perform an innovative hybrid ablation procedure that combines the best surgical and catheter-based approaches to treat atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder.

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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.