Bridgeport Hospital's cardiac-care center has been renamed the Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute in recognition of what hospital officials call a "major" gift from the Southport philanthropist.

"Mr. Smilow's generous gift will help ensure the continued delivery of the state-of-the-art care that we have provided to heart patients for more than a half-century," Bridgeport Hospital President and CEO William M. Jennings said in a statement. "This gift lays a solid foundation for further innovations and quality enhancements that will benefit patients for years to come."

Smilow, the former chairman, CEO and president of Playtex Products, has been a major donor to six other health-care organizations, plus causes such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the New York Philharmonic, Yale University and the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.

His largest single gift in 2007 was to the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.