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Sarasota Memorial Hospital Campus 2021, Sarasota, Florida

The History of Sarasota Memorial

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.

Nov. 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.

Sarasota Hospital - 1925 1930s
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 later 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 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, MD, 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 Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and spacious Labor and Delivery and Mother-Baby suites.

Sarasota Memorial opens a fourth urgent care center in Venice.

Sarasota Memorial achieves Magnet® designation for the third time.

Sarasota Memorial opens a fifth urgent care center, offering residents on either side of I-75 along the Bee Ridge corridor a more convenient and less costly option for care.

David Verinder is appointed president and CEO of Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, after having served as the health system's chief operating officer and chief financial officer.

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

Sarasota Memorial opens its sixth urgent care center. Located at 500 John Ringling Blvd., on St. Armands Circle, the center is dedicated to people who live, work and vacation in and near the barrier island communities and west Sarasota. 

Demolition of the Retter Wing is completed to make way for the new Rehabilitation Pavilion.

Sarasota Memorial opens the $50-million, state-of-the-art Rehabilitation Pavilion. The only facility of its kind in Sarasota County, the Rehabilitation Pavilion offers a comprehensive slate of inpatient and outpatient rehab services at the 74,000-square-foot facility.

Sarasota Memorial's Nurse Residency Program earns accreditation with distinction from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). SMH's program is one of only two in Florida and 10 in the US to achieve this special national recognition.

Sarasota Memorial, in partnership with Florida State University College of Medicine, launches an internal medicine residency program, the first graduate medical education (GME) program in Sarasota County.

Sarasota Memorial opens the Jean & Alfred Goldstein Health Center at Sarasota Memorial Internal Medicine Practice in Newtown. Located at 1825 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, the practice is staffed by resident physicians and attending board-certified Internal Medicine physicians on staff at Sarasota Memorial.

Sarasota Memorial becomes the first hospital in southwest Florida to earn the international Baby-Friendly Hospital designation for promoting the best practices in maternity care.

The comprehensive heart program is the first in Florida and the fourth in the US to receive the American Heart Association’s Cardiovascular Center of Excellence accreditation for exemplary cardiac care.

The Sarasota Memorial Cancer Institute, in partnership with Sarasota Military Academy, launches a new oncology internship program for high-school students.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital is the only Florida hospital to earn the Certified Quality Breast Center of Excellence desigation, awarded by the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers.

Sarasota Memorial receives the prestigious American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program Magnet designation for a fourth consecutive time, an achievement attained by fewer than 1% of US hospitals.

Sarasota Memorial names the founding president of its Venice hospital: Sharon Roush, a well-known and respected hospital executive and a community leader in Florida.

Sarasota Memorial opens the West Parking Garage on Arlington Street, adding 583 much-needed parking spaces to the main campus, and purchases the former Sarasota Herald-Tribune building on Main Street in downtown Sarasota to house many support departments.

Sarasota Memorial breaks ground on its new hospital and 65-acre medical campus in Venice.

The Sarasota Memorial Cancer Institute breaks ground on an eight-story oncology tower at the main campus and a new radiation oncology center on University Parkway.

Newsweek magazine names Sarasota Memorial among the world's best hospitals. 

IBM Watson Health ranks SMH among America's Top 100 Hospitals.

SMH remains the only hospital in Florida to earn CMS’s highest 5-star rating for quality in every reporting period since the federal agency’s rating system began in 2016.

Hospital teams begin developing protocols in response to the global spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) early in the year. On March 12, SMH confirms its first COVID-positive inpatient and launches in-house testing for the virus in April. SMH also becomes a research site for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, launching clinical trials of the antiviral drug remdesivir, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ REGN-COV2 dual-action antibody cocktail, and convalescent plasma.

Sarasota Memorial unveils a new radiation oncology center on University Parkway, completing the first phase of its comprehensive Cancer Institute and marking the first time the health system has provided external beam radiation services to patients on the Suncoast.
The Brian and Sheila Jellison Family Foundation donates $25 million to the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation to help improve cancer care in our community.

Sarasota Memorial opens a new outpatient care center with a state-of-the-art endoscopy suite and expanding specialty practice dedicated to early detection and treatment of gastrointestinal (GI) cancers and other digestive diseases and disorders.

Sarasota Memorial celebrates its 95th anniversary of caring for the community with a special, small celebration in recognition of COVID-19 safety protocols.

Sarasota Memorial partners with the Sarasota Department of Health to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to nearly 3,000 community members age 65 and older. The health system later holds a vaccination clinic for the Newtown community.

A patient care team from 5 Waldemere Tower is the first group of frontline healthcare heroes to be invited by the NFL to the Super Bowl LV.

The Sarasota County Public Hospital Board approves plans to move forward with preliminary site planning and schematics for 2 new outpatient oncology facilities: a 6-story cancer pavilion on the Sarasota campus and a 2-story cancer center on the campus of the new Venice hospital currently under construction. 

Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Venice Campus, Venice, Florida 2021Sarasota Memorial Health Care System opens a second hospital, Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Venice, offering high-quality acute care close to home for residents in south Sarasota County. SMH-Venice begins serving patients in November 2021, with a 65-acre campus featuring a 5-story hospital with 110 private patient suites, a 28-bed emergency care center and 8 surgical suites, as well as a 2-story medical office building for physician and specialty care practices.

The Sarasota Memorial Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute opens the doors to its state-of-the-art Oncology Tower in November 2021. Located on the Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Sarasota Campus, the 8-story inpatient and surgical tower features 56 dedicated private suites and provides patients with the full continuum of modern cancer care — from diagnosis and intervention to survivorship care — under one roof.  

Sarasota Memorial Hospital is again named to Newsweek’s annual World’s Best Hospitals list. SMH has made the list four years in a row.

SMHCS breaks ground on the Cornell Family Behavioral Health Pavilion, which will expand and centralize care for people with mental and behavioral health challenges.

Gallup announces the winners of its “Exceptional Workplace Award” for 2022, and Sarasota Memorial is one of only 41 organizations worldwide to make the list. This is the third time that SMH has won the prestigious award, which honors organizations that have attained world-class performance by making employee engagement a cornerstone of their strategy.

The Sarasota County Public Hospital Board authorizes plans for the construction of a new seven-story Cancer Pavilion on Waldemere Street. The pavilion will be the third in a series of expansions to the Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute.

SMHCS leaders begin pre-construction to add a third patient care tower to the Venice campus—a $113 million expansion, which will add 68 more private patient suites by early 2024.

SMH earns three major awards this summer, being named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals, and a top 40 teaching hospital, in the annual 2022 Fortune/Merative ranking; earning top marks in U.S. News' 2022-2023 “Best Hospitals” list and being named among the Top 50 in the nation for specialized urology care and rehabilitation services; and becoming the only hospital in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties to earn a 5-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the only hospital in Florida to consistently earn the award since the rating system launched in 2016.

Less than a year after opening SMH-Venice, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System begins master planning and pre-construction work on Sarasota Memorial Hospital-North Port, a new medical campus and hospital to be constructed on a 32-acre undeveloped site in the 4900 block of Sumter Boulevard near I-75.

Sarasota Memorial celebrates the "topping out" of a new, 5-story patient tower on its Venice campus. When construction is complete in 2024, the patient tower will add 102 new private patient rooms to help meet the community's high demand for services. Work also gets under way to double the size of the campus' Emergency Care Center and increase the number of surgical suites.

After an extensive review of every aspect of its trauma program, Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s Sarasota campus is re-designated as a Level II Trauma Center. In its first renewal survey since opening in 2015, the SMH-Sarasota trauma team met or exceeded all national benchmarks. The center is the only trauma program in Sarasota County.

Sarasota Memorial breaks ground on the new Kolschowsky Research and Education Institute. When it opens in 2025, the institute will house the expanding clinical research division, clinical and graduate medical education programs, medical library and a new, state-of-the-art simulation center designed for patient-safe training.

For the fifth time, SMH-Sarasota earns Magnet recognition from the American Nurses Association’s Credentialing Center. Only 10% of more than 6,000 hospitals in the U.S have achieved Magnet status — the nation's highest honor for nursing excellence — at least once, but fewer than 1% have earned recognition five times or more. Sarasota Memorial has remained the only hospital in the region with Magnet recognition for the past 20 years.

SMH-Sarasota is awarded a prestigious 5-star rating from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the 8th year in a row.

SMH-Sarasota ranks in U.S. News' 50 best hospitals for two specialties -- rehabilitation and obstetrics/gynecology care - and among the nation’s top 10% for 18 other “high performing” specialties, procedures and conditions.

Sarasota Memorial opens its seventh urgent care center, offering people who live near U.S. 41 and Jacaranda Boulevard in south Venice and surrounding neighborhoods.

The health system breaks ground on the new outpatient Cancer Pavilion, the third premier facility that makes up in the expanding Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute. When it opens in 2025, the pavilion will provide a full array of outpatient oncology services, from prevention, screening and diagnosis to treatment, clinical trials, survivorship care and lifetime support.

Sarasota Memorial opens the Cornell Behavioral Health Pavilion, a new state-of-the-art facility providing a complete continuum of mental health care, from intensive outpatient counseling and partial hospitalization to inpatient admissions and crisis stabilization. The pavilion, located on the SMH-Sarasota Campus, replaces the aged Bayside Center for Behavioral Health across the street.