Schulze said Wednesday the gift from his Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation is the largest it has given to a project in Naples.
An announcement ceremony was held at the Telford Building on the campus of the NCH Downtown Baker Hospital.
That’s the site for the nearly $200-million heart and stroke center that still needs approval from the city of Naples.
The Telford building would be torn down. The downtown campus and Telford building are between Fourth Avenue North, Eighth Street North, Second Avenue North and Sixth Street North.
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NCH officials say the new heart center will be state of the art and patients will no longer feel a need to travel out of town anymore for cardiac care.
Schulze said he moved to Naples from Minneapolis more than 15 years ago and what was missing was an emphasis on the importance of cardiological and neurological care.
His father had a stroke and that put him on a “watch list.”
NCH’s current heart center, now located inside the Baker hospital and doing about 450 open-heart procedures a year, was not “distinguished,” Schulze said.
Changing that became a mission of NCH’s leaders for fast-growing Naples, he said.
“It will be the best of class right here in Naples,” Schulze said.
NCH president and chief executive officer, Paul Hiltz, said the gift was one of the biggest days in NCH’s 65-year history.
Schulze told NCH leaders it needs world-class cardiac and stroke care, top-notch physicians to provide the services, along with an exceptional management team to run it, Hiltz said.
“We listened to what you had to say,” Hiltz said. “On behalf of the (hospital) board and the community, thank you for your confidence in NCH.”
The hospital system received two earlier gifts of $20 million each for the heart and stroke project.
In February Diana and Don Wingard, well-known philanthropists in Naples, gave $20 million for the stroke center that will be named after them.
A few weeks earlier former U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney increased a donation from the Rooney Family Foundation to $20 million that had originally been $8 million.
The heart center program will remain the NCH Rooney Heart Institute.
The cardiac center complex as a whole will be named the R.M. Schulze Family Cardiovascular and Stroke Critical Care Center.
Schulze’s gift came with some conditions
Schulze said after the announcement that his gift was contingent upon NCH entering into a partnership agreement with Allina Health Minneapolis Heart Institute.
The agreement calls for tapping the Minneapolis heart institute’s expertise, technology, clinical trials, treatment protocols, patient outcomes, and research, he said.
Schulze said he has invested in Abbott Northwestern Hospital where the Allina heart institute is located in Minneapolis, which he called the best heart and stroke center in the country.
“Why wouldn’t you leverage what that looks like, what that has meant and what that is,” he said. “The name of the game is partnership. You shouldn’t be afraid of it.”
He brought the partnership idea to NCH in January, which was when he decided his family foundation would make the $20 million gift.
Officials at Allina health could not be reached immediately for comment.
What’s next for the NCH project?
NCH’s planned heart center has been debated for more than a year with the city of Naples and a bone of contention among some residents who say the size and height of the building does not fit the residential area.
The building is planned at five stories at 73 feet in height, which exceeds the 42-foot height limit for commercial buildings in the city.
A work-around the height limit has been found that calls for rezoning the site into the public services zoning. It’s a zoning category where all uses are conditional and where the city council could allow a taller building.
Another critical element that has faced push back from neighbors is a new parking garage off Sixth Street North.
NCH has responded with plans to move the garage another 20 feet east from where it was originally planned with heavy landscape buffering. That would create a 60-foot buffer along Sixth Street North.
The city of Naples Design Review Board in late April approved preliminary plans for the new heart center.
The next step is for NCH to seek rezoning into the public services zoning district.
If the rezoning is approved and NCH obtains a conditional use permit, the hospital system then must submit a site plan to city staff for an administrative review, which ultimately is reviewed by the council.
NCH officials expect to seek the rezoning this fall.
Here’s what each floor would look like:
- The ground floor would have classrooms, educational space, a gift shop and coffee shop so families of heart patients don’t have to walk to the Baker hospital for coffee.
- The second floor is operating rooms and there would be a connecting corridor to the hospital, along with waiting room, pre-operative and post-operative areas.
- The third floor is slated for medical exam rooms and medical offices and would have a connector to the new parking garage.
- The fourth and fifth floors will each have 27 patient rooms.
- The parking garage would have four levels for a total of 42 feet to the top of the open deck parking. There would be a total of 375 spaces.