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$20 million gift from Diana and Don Wingard for NCH’s stroke program
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$20 million gift from Diana and Don Wingard for NCH’s stroke program

Donations to the NCH Healthcare System keep coming in; the hospital has received another $20 million donation.

The gift is from Diana and Don Wingard, well-known philanthropists in Naples. The money is pledged to NCH’s stroke program.

It comes on the heels of former U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney two weeks ago increasing a donation from the Rooney Family Foundation to $20 million for NCH’s new heart institute planned for on the campus of the NCH Baker Hospital. The original gift was $8 million last summer.

The Wingard gift will be used to enhance clinical services for stroke patients, make necessary capital improvements, support research, and develop new programs to address patients’ needs and their families.

“This generous gift will provide the necessary funds to ensure that the NCH Stroke program continues to provide the highest level of care and treatment to patients in Southwest Florida,” NCH said in an announcement Tuesday.

The hospital’s stroke program is being renamed the “Wingard Stroke Institute.”

“This gift not only impacts the lives of those affected by stroke, it also inspires our team to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible in stroke care,” Dr.  Mazen Abuawad, medical director of the Wingard Stroke Institute, said.  “We are honored to have such dedicated supporters in our mission to improve the health and well-being of our community.”

NCH is pursuing plans to build a new cardiac and stroke center at the site of the Telford Building next to the Baker hospital that would be five stories with a projected cost of $200 million. The stroke program’s capabilities will be expanded in the new heart center.

Don Wingard said he and his wife chose to support the hospital’s stroke program because it provides an opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the community and they recognize it already provides exceptional care.

“The reason we chose to support the stroke program was to help NCH build on the successes of Dr. Abuawad and his team and ensure that Naples will always have a stroke center rivaling the best in America in terms of patient outcomes,” Wingard said. “We hope our gift will inspire others to support this critical program and the many other important initiatives at NCH.”

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NCH cares for 800 stroke patients each year and it has become one of the busiest stroke centers in the state, according to the hospital.

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. The NCH program is on the path to becoming a certified comprehensive stroke center by the Joint Commission, which is the highest designation possible.

Recent investments in elevating stroke care include a new neurovascular intensive care unit at the Baker hospital with 16 private rooms. In addition, the specialized space uses modern technology and equipment.

Paul Hiltz, president and chief executive officer of NCH, said the hospital is grateful to the Wingards.

“Their generosity will have a tremendous impact on the lives of stroke patients and their families in our community for generations to come,” he said.

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