Bringing Technology to Life

"Bringing Technology to Life" Capital Campaign Launched

As Bridgeport Hospital moves through the COVID pandemic period of history, its reputation as a beacon of hope and medical leadership has been solidified in the community and region it serves.

The hospital continues on this journey with a $25 million investment in the Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute and new neurovascular systems to support cardiac and stroke care. The Bridgeport Hospital Foundation is proud to support the hospital with a $4.5 million capital fundraising campaign. We are asking for philanthropic contributions from our community to help significantly expand access to these critical services and improve clinical outcomes, especially for our highest-risk patients.

Specifically, with new technology and outstanding expertise of our highly-trained physicians, we will:

  • Provide significantly expanded access to patients seeking lifesaving interventional heart procedures within the next three years, including nearly double the current number of electrophysiology patients
  • Reduce the effects of 400-500 severe strokes over five years, giving patients the best opportunity for recovery. The importance of rapid stroke care close to home cannot be understated. Bridgeport Hospital is a Primary Stroke Care Center with a team of experienced physicians and the highest volume of stroke patients in Fairfield County.

Dr. Kunkes discusses technology in the video link below that enables a remarkable, minimally-invasive technique for removing stroke-causing blood clots. He explains how what was once a potentially fatal medical crisis can now be swiftly resolved, allowing patients to recover fully and leave the hospital within a matter of days.

Click to view the video

Thank you for reviewing the following plan and a brief roadmap of how, with your help, we will achieve our goals.

Make a Gift

The Foundation invites you to support the hospital’s efforts to deliver extraordinary care close to home.  With your investment, you will help the hospital "Bring technology to Life” and enable thousands of patients to lead fuller more productive lives.  If you would like additional information about the Campaign for Bridgeport Hospital, please email Danielle Marchione at or call her directly at (203) 384-4755.

Considered to be an epidemic of the 21st century, arrhythmia caused by Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) is the most common electrical disorder of the heart. While some arrhythmias are due to congenital electrical abnormalities of the heart, others are the result of the aging process itself. Structural changes can develop in the heart as we age which lead to a marked increase in the risk of arrhythmias.

Over the years, cardiologists, neurologists, and interventional radiologists have developed the tools we use today to treat serious arrhythmias, heart attacks and strokes.  The use of aspirin, thrombolytics (i.e. clot dissolving drugs), pacemakers and stents help reduce the severity of these life-threatening events and increase long-term survival.

Current estimates are that A-Fib accounts for $10-25 billion in U.S. healthcare costs annually.  A-Fib has been associated with stroke, reduced heart function, heart failure and dementia. A-Fib can be fatal and can increase the risk of stroke as much as five-fold. A full 35% of strokes today originate from the heart and are linked to A-Fib, and these strokes tend to be more disabling with an associated higher death rate as compared to ischemic strokes (strokes that occur in the brain). Statistics show that approximately every 39 seconds an American will have a heart attack and on average someone will die of a stroke every 3 minutes and thirty-nine seconds.

Yale New Haven Health Check: Recent Advances in Heart Surgery – Dr. Gabriele DiLuozzo, Chief, Cardiac Surgery, Bridgeport Hospital 
By Natasha Lubczenko, WTNH (10/5/22)

With exciting recent advances in neurology and interventional cardiology, The Heart and Vascular Center at Bridgeport Hospital is ready to chart the future of healthcare by expanding access to lifesaving technology and procedures and dramatically improving patient outcomes.

The hospital's Board of Trustees has endorsed a $25 million plan to completely modernize more than 15,000 square feet of clinical and patient care space. The plan consists of two components – a Neurovascular Center of Excellence and new Interventional Cardiology Labs – in the Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute - to be completed over a two-year period.
Neurovascular Center of Excellence

In the first phase of the project, a Neurovascular Center of Excellence will be built on the hospital’s 3rd floor to support both our neuro-radiologists and interventional radiologists.  Featuring highly advanced and sophisticated equipment called a Biplane Imaging System, we will be able to perform lifesaving procedures, such as mechanical thrombectomy, for patients experiencing acute strokes.

Bridgeport Hospital receives the largest volume of stroke patients in Fairfield County. It has been designated a Primary Stroke Center by the State of Connecticut and was the first hospital in Fairfield County to surgically remove a blood clot from a stroke patient’s brain.

Stroke care is unique among other serious health concerns. When a stroke occurs, each minute of delay in treatment results in a loss of brain function.  The availability of this service close to home is essential.

The new Neurovascular Center will also include five pre-operative and recovery spaces for patients undergoing procedures there.


Biplane Imaging Systems: Combining Diagnosis and Treatment

The Biplane Imaging System is one of the most advanced interventional medical imaging technologies available. It uses two rotating cameras, one on each side of the patient, to take simultaneous images. As the cameras move side to side and front to back, they produce highly detailed images of blood vessels, soft tissue and blood flow in real time. When combined on a computer screen, the two sets of images form a 3-D portrait of the area the doctor wants to study.

Biplane imaging is also used to track the flow of blood through vessels, which helps find the precise location of concern, allowing doctors to quickly determine if there are blockages, congenital malformations or aneurysms.  In many cases, doctors will be able to use the detailed images to help guide minimally invasive procedures to treat blockages, aneurysms or blood clots in the brain and potentially avoid risky brain surgery.  This versatile technology means our experienced medical team can provide comprehensive care for the most complex patients who cannot currently be treated. Another benefit is that many patients will return home in 48 hours with excellent quality of life.


New Interventional Cardiology Labs in the Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute

Interventional Cardiology is a subspecialty of cardiology that specifically addresses catheter-based treatment of heart diseases. Catheters are tiny, flexible tubes that can be used instead of surgery, to access the heart and blood vessels. They can enable the diagnosis and treatment of coronary artery disease, vascular disease and acquired structural heart disease.

The second phase of the plan completely modernizes the hospital’s cardiac procedural catheterization labs on its 10th floor. A brand-new catheterization (“cath”) lab will be constructed, followed by two electrophysiology labs and a second cath lab.  The additional space will significantly expand patient access, enabling the hospital to treat nearly double the number of electrophysiology patients annually.


When Seconds Count

A Cardiac Catheterization (Cath”) Lab is a special hospital room where doctors perform minimally invasive tests and procedures to diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease. A cath lab has special imaging equipment used to see the arteries and check how well blood is flowing to and from the heart.  In many cases these procedures will offer new hope to patients who were previously deemed too sick to be surgical candidates. This new imaging equipment also allows us to place more transcatheter aortic valves (TAVRs) and explore new treatments for structural heart disease such as mitral valve clips and replacement without the need for surgery.

Our new Electrophysiology (EP) Labs will allow us to treat more arrhythmias in general and focus more on the burgeoning number of cases of A-Fib. An EP Lab contains hi-tech equipment used to monitor and map the electrical system of the heart. Doctors can treat (ablate) arrhythmias and deploy cardiac devices within the heart to help prevent future strokes.

If a patient is suffering from a cardiac arrhythmia, an EP study can be performed to determine the location of the electrical “misfire” within the heart. The misfire can then be treated by using either a radiofrequency ablation procedure or cryoablation (freezing with a cold balloon within the heart). Additionally, defibrillators can be placed in patients who experience or are at high risk for potentially lethal arrhythmias. Finally, in A-Fib patients with bleeding problems or in those unable to tolerate blood thinners, a Watchman device can be inserted through a vein in the leg into the collecting chamber of the left side of the heart to block blood clots from leaving the heart and causing a stroke.

The Community’s Role: The Difference is You 

You can help make a difference. Your support can help overcome life altering changes in the health of your family members, friends and neighbors. Your support will help save lives and allow many to maintain their quality of life. Your generosity can help raise the bar – enormously improving the level of care received by potential stroke victims and arrhythmia patients.

Bridgeport Hospital will be funding the majority of the $25 million facility plan to construct a Neurovascular Center of Excellence and four completely modernized interventional cardiology labs. There remains a gap between funds available and funds critically needed. Without philanthropic support, it may take several years to complete a high priority project like this.

As we have so many times in the past, the Foundation is asking our friends to support the hospital’s efforts to deliver extraordinary care close to home.  We invite you to join us at this early stage of our Campaign and it would be our great honor to recognize your generosity with a premium naming opportunity.  With your investment, you will help the hospital “Bring Technology to Life” and enable thousands of patients to lead fuller, more productive lives.

Thank you for considering our proposal.  If you would like additional information about the Campaign for Bridgeport Hospital, please email Lyla Steenbergen at or call her directly at (203) 650-0466.

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