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Naples Community Hospital received a $20 million donation from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation for the health care system’s five-story cardiovascular institute. The $200 million facility, planned to replace the existing three-story Telford building, just south of the Downtown Baker Hospital building, will house all of NCH’s vascular-related specialties, such as heart care, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.  

NCH will name the building the R.M. Schulze Family Cardiovascular and Stroke Critical Care Center.  

“We’re super excited about the gift and endorsement from a guy like [Richard] Schulze, a leading philanthropist in the United States who has gotten very interested in our transformation here,” NCH President and CEO Paul Hiltz said. “We love his involvement and are grateful for the gift.” 

The donation is Schulze’s largest single gift to the Naples community since becoming a resident in 2006. Schulze, who founded Best Buy, focuses on the pillars of health and education within his foundation. He has a vast history of making donations to Southwest Florida community organizations, such as Lee Health for its cancer services and The Immokalee Foundation in support of the Immokalee Readers and Career Pathways Programs. 

“We believe in investing in the community where we live, where we play, where we work, and we’re proud of the work that has gone on from our foundation,” Schulze said.  

This marks the third $20 million donation going toward the cardiovascular institute as it follows gifts from the Rooney Foundation and from Diana and Don Wingard.  

“There is some meaningful capital being invested into this initiative, and I’m pretty confident just based on many people that I’ve come to know down here in Naples that it won’t take long for people to say, ‘Gee, if I can make an investment to help create a best-in-class facility for heart and stroke, why wouldn’t I do that right here where I live?’” Schulze said. “I’m confident that the money will be raised, and I’m just happy to be part of what it takes to launch the campaign and get things moving.”  

In addition to the $20 million, NCH announced a partnership agreement with Allina Health at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, where Schulze also has made donations. Dr. Mazen Abuawad, medical director of the Wingard Stroke Institute at NCH, said the partnership will be a great opportunity for further growth and success at NCH.  

“Our new collaboration with Abbott Northwestern just happens to show us this is a double win for us, and we will be able to share expertise, share protocols and then have a plan on how to move forward to share research,” Abuawad said. 

Heart health is a personal matter for Schulze, whose father, uncle and grandfather suffered from strokes. He said NCH’s new heart and stroke institute will successfully deliver the world-class critical cardiovascular care that the Southwest Florida community has been searching for. 

“I really truly believe that … people [will] come to understand that there’s only one place in the city that you want to be in the event that you suffer from a stroke or any kind of an emergency heart attack. There’s only one place that you’re going to want to go that has the kind of resources, leadership, teamwork, facility and technology that it takes to make that happen,” Schulze said. “And I’m confident now that NCH will be that facility.”

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