Schenectady County

Grateful patient endows chair at Albany Medical Center hospital

Thanks a million took on a whole new meaning when a “grateful patient” gave $1 million to Albany


Thanks a million took on a whole new meaning when a “grateful patient” gave $1 million to Albany Medical Center to set up an endowed chair in cardiothoracic surgery.

The patient, who has asked to remain anonymous, was treated by Dr. Lewis Britton, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Albany Medical Center.

Britton was named as the Catherine Sheer Britton Endowed Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery.

The chair was named in honor of Britton’s late wife, who passed away in 2003 following a long battle with cancer.

Britton will use the funds to advance patient-care research and education in cardiothoracic surgery.

“The fact that one of his own patients gave so generously to fund this chair reflects the profound respect and admiration this patient, like so many others, had for both Lew and Catherine,” said Dr. Vincent Verdile, dean of Albany Medical College and executive vice president for health affairs at Albany Medical Center.

Hospital officials said the patient, who gave Albany Medical Center $1 million to endow the chair, didn’t want to share any information about the relationship with Britton or when the care took place.

Verdile said Albany Medical Center receives approximately $1 million each year from “grateful patients” making 2007’s total more than $2 million.

The hospital has a total of 30 endowments.

According to an Albany Medical Center newsletter, Britton is a “constant presence” at the Heart Institute at Albany Medical Center. He specializes in thoracic aneurysms and heart valve surgeries and said he has an interest in all aspects of adult cardiac surgery.

When he discussed his years at Albany Medical Center, he said it’s been a tremendous professional experience.

“One thing I learned over the years is that life is extremely fragile. You go to work every day and you better enjoy what you do because it could be over at any moment.”

He said his job gives him great personal satisfaction. During the holidays, he gets cards from children and adults he operated on 10 years ago saying: ‘I’m still here. Thank you.’ It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Britton joined the faculty of Albany Medical Center in 1986. He received his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine and completed residencies in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery at Albany Medical Center Hospital.

He also completed a fellowship in pediatric cardiac surgery at Boston’s Hospital. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Cardiology.

An endowed chair is used to help the recipient with research and education efforts. The money is invested by the institution and the income from the endowment is what is used to support the salary and research mission.

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