Nuwellis CEO leads heart failure technology company into new sectors

Nuwellis CEO leads heart failure technology company into new sectors

Nuwellis CEO Nestor Jaramillo Jr. said nearly $21 million in new financing is helping the company expand commercialization of its novel ultrafiltration therapy system and a new broader application in treating pediatric and critical care patients in addition to its historical use as a heart failure treatment.

The company, formerly known as CHF Solutions, last week announced its name change to Nuwellis Inc., to emphasize it no longer exclusively focuses on heart failure.

The fundraising round, announced in March, exceeded its target and attracted the health care investors Nuwellis was seeking, Jaramillo said.

Jaramillo was promoted from president and chief operating officer to president and chief executive in January after a “transformational” 2020.

The company’s expansion into critical care came as the Aquadex SmartFlow console gained use in treating severe COVID-19 cases, Jaramillo said. It also can benefit critically ill patients suffering from trauma, burns and acute kidney injury.

In February 2020, Nuwellis received clearance to use its technology in pediatric patients weighing 20 kilograms or about 44 pounds, addressing what Jaramillo said is a large unmet need.

Jaramillo succeeds John Erb as chief executive. Erb continues as board chairman of the early-stage medical device company based in Eden Prairie. Erb credited Jaramillo, who joined Nuwellis in May 2019 as chief commercial officer, with organizing the company’s commercialization strategy and retooling its sales team.

“[Jaramillo] has a real passion for the patients that our product helps and for the customers that utilize our product, so he’s a great fit,” Erb said in an interview.

Jaramillo worked in health care investment banking for eight years before moving to the medical device industry, where his experience includes serving as chief executive of a med-tech company and in prominent roles at Medtronic and St. Jude Medical.

Jaramillo has an electrical engineering degree from the University of North Dakota and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. Nuwellis has been listed on the Nasdaq since February 2012. It has 70 employees.

Q: How has the pandemic affected Nuwellis?

A: It has helped us a great deal with critically ill COVID-19 patients. We were the only mechanical option to remove [excess] fluid without affecting their renal function. But it has prevented us from opening new accounts. We’re a fully U.S.-sourced company with most [components] from here in Minnesota and were able to ramp up production to meet the demands of COVID-19 because of that.

Q: What are your immediate priorities?

A: We’re focusing on heart failure, pediatrics and critical care and we have different strategies to grow all three sectors. Internally, we’re focusing on three areas. We want to recruit, hire, develop and retain the best talent. We need to be cash flow positive and grow the business. We are innovating internally and continue to look for other strategic adjacencies. We are in discussions with three or four companies to do collaborations, partnerships or acquisitions.

Q: What’s next for the company?

A: We are in the process of developing a pediatric-dedicated device. We’re working on a next-generation of the adult version. On heart failure, the clinical guideline has ultrafiltration at the end of the continuum of care. We need to move that so the Aquadex is used early on because the data is very supportive of how well the product is working.

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is [email protected]

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