Sarasota Memorial is in growth mode

Sarasota (Fla.) Memorial Health Care System kicked off big projects in 2023 to add services, hospitals, freestanding EDs and urgent care centers. These facilities are expanding the system's footprint and David Verinder, president and CEO, sees the investment continuing into the next year.

That won't necessarily be easy. Sarasota Memorial is facing many of the same financial challenges as other health systems, but its leadership decided to continue moving forward with pivotal projects transforming care in the southwest Florida Gulf Coast region.

SMH invested more than $1 billion during the pandemic opening a new, acute-care hospital in southern Sarasota County and the first of two premier facilities in its state-of-the-art Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute. It also began work on the new Cornell Behavioral Health Pavilion, which opened its doors to patients in December. SMH leaders are investing another billion in projects under way this year, including expansion of its new SMH-Venice hospital, a new outpatient cancer pavilion and a new research and education center.


“Florida’s population is growing faster than any other state in the nation, which places an incredible strain on state resources and its healthcare providers,” Mr. Verinder said. “Sarasota Memorial has cared for this community for nearly a century. We are a trusted institution with a public mission that people have always been able to count on to meet the region’s rapidly evolving needs.”

That’s why, in the midst of a global pandemic that left workers, materials and other essential resources in short supply, Sarasota Memorial opened Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Venice, a 65-acre medical campus and new 110-bed hospital in Venice in 2021, and just days later, open a new 8-story oncology and surgical tower on its Sarasota campus.

And that’s why in December, SMH and hundreds of community members, mental health advocates and local officials celebrated the opening of the new Cornell Behavioral Health Pavilion, a state-of-the-art facility designed to provide the latest in inpatient and outpatient mental healthcare.

“Our old psych hospital simply was not designed to accommodate the myriad treatments and technologies available today,” Mr. Verinder said. “We have always provided excellent clinical care, but it was past time to invest in a more therapeutic facility to support our patients and treatment teams.”

The new pavilion, which he said incorporates best practices and innovative design elements from around the nation, is a life-changing destination for people suffering from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mental health challenges.

Another facility now under construction is the Kolschowsky Research and Education Institute on the Sarasota hospital campus. When it opens in 2025, the Institute will offer advanced research and education opportunities for physicians and clinicians caring for patients on the Suncoast, as well as a state-of-the-art simulation center for physicians, nurses and students mastering new treatments and technologies.

Just as the Jellison and Cornell families supported new SMH facilities, the Kolschowsky family are among the philanthropists helping SMH transform care in the community.

“We are very fortunate to have not only great physicians and clinicians, but also very generous donors supporting advanced care and helping SMH bring new technologies, new specialists and the latest treatment options to our community,” Mr. Verinder said.

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