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Sarasota Hospital - 1925The Dream of Many
Sarasota Memorial is the realization of “the dream of many made possible by the intensive efforts of a few and the generosity of all,” as the Sarasota Herald wrote in November 1925 to announce the opening of the first modern hospital in Sarasota County. From simple canvas tents to today’s modern campus, follow the timeline below to trace our eight decades of history.

Sarasota residents begin raising funds to build a hospital.

November 2, 1925
The 32-bed Sarasota Hospital opens on Hawthorne Street.

Construction on a hospital annex begins, and the facility is turned over to the City of Sarasota and renamed Sarasota Municipal Hospital.

The hospital expands to 100 beds, with a nurses’ home, garage, operating room and an annex to accommodate patient overflow.

Improvements include a surgical suite, enlarged garage, a kitchen and dining room, a new concrete block wing and the first air-conditioning unit.

An Auxiliary forms to provide services and badly needed equipment.

The Florida Legislature passes an Enabling Act to create a special hospital district, and the Hospital Board is formed.

Don Laurent begins a 25-year career as an administrator of Sarasota Municipal Hospital.

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAH) forms, and the hospital receives its first of many accreditations two years later.

Sarasota Municipal Hospital is deeded to the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board and renamed Sarasota Memorial Hospital in honor of the veterans from both World Wars.

The new south wing opens, bringing hospital capacity to 225 beds. The facility is one of the few fully air-conditioned hospitals in the South.

The Century Club begins with 20 members, who each pledge $100 a year to purchase unbudgeted equipment for the hospital.

The Retter wing opens with 92 beds, a medical library and conference room, made possible through a $1 million gift from Mr. and Mrs. Earl Retter.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital Foundation raises more than $1 million in pledges and gifts in its first year.

A hospital employee since 1958, H.J. Floyd is named the hospital’s Executive Director.

The East Tower is completed, and allows patients to be transported to or from the hospital by helicopter.

An Open Heart Surgery Center opens and reaches the 100-patient mark within four months. Waldemere Tower opens, followed by the Cape Outpatient Surgery Center and Lakeside Pavilion (for mental health care), pushing total bed capacity to 825.

Philip Beauchamp becomes president and CEO.

Michael Covert becomes president and CEO, bringing a new vision to lead the hospital into the new millennium.

CareVision medical records software, the first patient care application in the United States, begins running on a patient care unit.

Jo Mills Reis Urgent Care Center opens to offer family-friendly care in an atmosphere less stressful than traditional Emergency rooms.

Sarasota Memorial becomes one of the first hospitals in the nation to use Zeus, a minimally invasive robotic device, in heart surgery.

Duncan Finlay, M.D., is named president and CEO.

Sarasota Memorial is honored with the Florida Governor’s Sterling Award for Performance Excellence.

The hospital earns its first four-year Magnet designation, the nursing profession’s highest honor. Dale Beachey retires as CFO after 34 years of service to Sarasota Memorial.

U.S. News & World Report names Sarasota Memorial one of America’s Best Hospitals.

Gwen MacKenzie, RN, MN, MHSA, is appointed president and CEO of Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. The hospital opens a new, state-of-the-art Emergency Care Center wing.

A new Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) ambulance is put into service, and SAM, a realistic high-tech mannequin used for medical training, joins the hospital’s Patient Simulation Lab.

The Institute for Advanced Medicine opens, offering a multitude of outpatient services and a central location for the latest in the field of neuroscience. A long-range plan for major renovations to the main hospital campus begins with the demolition of the 1960s-era Kennedy-White building.

Sarasota Memorial opens a $20 million, 26,500-square-foot, freestanding Emergency Room and Health Care Center in North Port, and opens an outpatient care center in Manatee County’s Heritage Harbour community.

Cleverley and Associates, a leading health care consulting firm, recognizes Sarasota Memorial for taking care of our community in the most financially responsible manner.

Sarasota Memorial unveils four new integrated operating rooms dedicated to minimally invasive and women’s surgery.

A strategic collaboration with Columbia University Medical Center gives Sarasota Memorial physicians 24/7 access to the cardiac surgery faculty and researchers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The nine-story Courtyard Tower opens with Cardiac and Orthopedic Units, an expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and spacious Labor and Delivery and Mother-Baby suites. The fourth urgent care center opens in Venice.

Sarasota Memorial achieves Magnet® designation for the third time. A fifth urgent care center offers residents on either side of I-75 along the Bee Ridge corridor a more convenient and less costly place to seek care. 

Sarasota Memorial receives designation from the Florida Department of Health as a provisional Level II Trauma Center, the only trauma program in Sarasota County.