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NCH Receives Two Gifts to Bring Total of Endowed Chairs to Five

NAPLES, Fla. – January 31, 2023 NCH is pleased to announce the establishment of two more endowed chair positions. The chairs were made possible by the generosity of Judge Henry and Mara Saad, and Vicky and David Byron Smith who each made a substantial gift in support of NCH’s cardiology program, which has been recognized among the nation’s top 100 cardiac programs for nearly a decade.

The Saad’s gift was memorialized as the Letica Family Endowed Chair in Heart Failure, which will be held by Viviana Navas, MD, a renowned cardiologist with extensive experience in adult congenital heart conditions who came to NCH less than two years ago. Dr. Navas joined the NCH team to build a heart failure program focused on advancing early diagnosis and improving clinical outcomes, which this gift will support for years to come. Dedicated to teaching and supporting the next generation of cardiologists, Dr. Navas is also the Director of the Cardiology Fellowship program which launched in 2022.

The Smith’s gift was used to create the Vicky C. and David Byron Smith Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Anesthesiology and will be held by Gaston Cudemus, MD. Dr. Cudemus is a Harvard-trained cardiothoracic anesthesiologist who is triple board-certified in anesthesiology, critical care medicine and echocardiography and came to NCH just 18 months ago. Dr. Cudemus will use the resources provided by the Chair to continue his work in the advancement of cardiovascular anesthesia and support his role as the Director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, overseeing care for our most vulnerable patients with highly complex and acute conditions.

With these additional gifts, these two chairs now join the three other existing endowed chairs at NCH for a total of five. The three existing chairs that will be joined by the two newly established endowed chairs are:

  • Brynne and Bob Coletti Endowed Chair for the President of NCH Heart Institute held by Robert J. Cubeddu, MD
  • Fritz and Kathy Friday Endowed Chair in Electrophysiology held by Dinesh Sharma, MD
  • Penny and Bill Allyn Endowed Chair in Simulation held by Douglas Harrington, DO

“We are incredibly grateful at NCH for the generosity and support shown through these two donations for endowed chairs,” said Paul Hiltz, president and CEO, NCH Healthcare System. “These gifts have a profound impact on our ability to not only attract and retain the best and brightest in the cardiology field, but to continue our mission of providing exceptional care to our community.”