A Vision Achieved

Ferdinand J. Venditti, MD

Few people know what they want to do with their lives at an early age and then are lucky enough to see their dreams come true. A Schenectady boy named Fred is one of them.

Ferdinand J. Venditti, MD, remembers when his pediatrician would make house calls to care for him and his four siblings. The doctor delivered his diagnoses in a calm, easy-to-understand way, and his holistic treatment plans prescribed peace and hope for the whole family.

The doctor’s demeanor inspired Fred, and at 5 years old, his dream to pursue a career in medicine was born.

“I was driven by what he provided my family,” Dr. Venditti recalled. “He was dependable, he offered care and reassurance, and I wanted to be that person—someone others could depend on.”

About 15 miles away from Dr. Venditti’s childhood home stood Albany Med, and he knew of its reputation.

“It was always a very prestigious place to those of us who grew up locally,” he recalled, “but working at the Medical Center seemed, to me, an unattainable goal.” He set his early sights elsewhere.

Dr. Venditti studied medicine in Brooklyn and went on to complete his residency in medicine at what is now Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, where he worked with third-year med student Edward Philbin, MD.

Dr. Philbin recalled, “Fred stood out because he was smart, thoughtful, listened when others spoke, and only spoke with words that added value. I saw him as a role model.”

Drs. Philbin and Venditti spoke on and off over the next 20 years. Dr. Venditti went on to receive his cardiology training at Boston University Medical Center and was the chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass. While there, he was a faculty member of the Harvard Medical School and Boston University School of Medicine.

Despite working for one of the biggest names in medicine and education, to Dr. Venditti, Albany Med was the gold standard.

His childhood dream came true in 1999, when Dr. Venditti was recruited to become professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at Albany Med. Not long after that, Dr. Venditti recruited a former colleague to become chief of cardiology: Dr. Philbin.

“Fred is the reason I’m here,” Dr. Philbin said.

Albany Med Dean Emeritus Vincent P. Verdile, MD, ’84, then asked Dr. Venditti to oversee the Albany Med Physicians Group in 2003. He grew the roster of physicians from 180 to 350.

“Recruiting new talent is one thing, but it’s another to draw physicians of exceptional caliber,” Dr. Verdile said. “Fred did just that. The relationships he built allowed Albany Med to reach further into the community with distinction. Because we had more physicians performing specialized services in more places, the Practice met growing needs of both the Medical Center and the College, and Fred was the guiding force.”

In 2015, Dr. Venditti was named senior vice president for System Care Delivery and hospital general director, overseeing medical and regulatory affairs, nursing, ambulatory services, hospital ancillary services and emergency management.

When the coronavirus crisis reached Albany, Dr. Venditti was right at the center of the Medical Center’s response.

“His steady hand and his clear direction were critical to how we handled this immense responsibility, particularly in those early days of the pandemic,” remembered Albany Med President and CEO Dennis P. McKenna, MD, ’92. “We sat side by side through arguably the most historic event in Albany Med’s 182 years. Fred was a beacon for us—forward thinking, forward leading, dedicated, and sharp. We owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.”

Throughout the first two years of the pandemic, Dr. Venditti remained engaged with all the Capital Region hospitals strategizing the ongoing, joint management of Covid-19. It was a group he was instrumental in pulling together.

“It struck me that we needed to navigate these uncharted waters together,” Dr. Venditti said. “Covid was unlike anything we had ever been through—certainly not of that magnitude. We brought our strengths and resources together to serve people in need—close to home and far away. We did our best to remain focused as a team on this campus and as a regional team, as well.”

Dr. Venditti will retire from Albany Med on March 18.

“I have been honored to serve alongside the most awe-inspiring people who care deeply about providing our communities with the highest quality care. That was especially true over the last two years. They were, without question, the most humbling of my career. And they always will be.”